The Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE
Sept. 14-Nov. 30, 2019
The Pittsburgh-based artist Vanessa German presents sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies., a multimedia installation addressing violence against people of color, particularly members of the LGBTQ+ community. The artist writes, “to say that sometimes we cannot be with our bodies is deep acknowledgment of an ongoing reckoning between past, present, future & striations of the political, cultural & spiritual impact of systemic racism & its attendant brutalities on the physical & spiritual bodies of Black, Brown & Native peoples on this land.”
The timing of this exhibition is fortuitous, coinciding with Omaha’s 100-year commemoration of the Will Brown lynching and the 50-year commemoration of Vivian Strong’s murder, and the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall uprising, a turning point in the modern fight for LGBTQ+ liberation. As Omaha reckons with its history of race relations and the nation grapples with rising hate crimes and human rights abuses, sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies. honors lives lost and serves as “a space of deep grieving . . . in a world that sometimes doesn’t give space for grief,” says German. The exhibition also serves to remind us of the transformative power of art and love.
This installation was originally conceived for the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2017. It was organized for The Union by curator Nicole J. Caruth.
On the opening weekend, German led a “ritual reckoning” — a two-mile procession in honor of Will Brown and other people of color whose lives have been lost to violence. [more info]
Image: Installation view of Vanessa German: sometimes.we.cannot be.with.our.bodies. at The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York. Photograph by Tom Little and courtesy of The Mattress Factory.