Blackness and Utopia

Patricia Kim, Penn History of Art PhD Candidate, leads a conversation about the utopian and dystopian possibilities of self-construction, world-making, and narrativization in American landscapes inspired by Rodney McMillian: The Black Show. By constructing and deconstructing different understandings of blackness, McMillian’s The Black Show brings together distant ideas by stitching together various social, racial, and economic narratives. The conversation focuses on how McMillian’s installation of videos, sculptures, and paintings create different narratives of black experiences, communities, and histories in the United States. Through a close consideration of McMillian’s subject matter and aesthetic choices, we will question the ways that Americans have constructed realities and regimes of belief that are spaces of utopia for some and dystopia for others.