The artists in this gallery use artifacts, archives, and testimonies—from badges from an ex-slave association to video footage of trans activist Sylvia Rivera speaking to her foresister Mary Jones, who lived a century before her—in works that respond to the legacy of colonialism and its hold in the present.
The title of this gallery is borrowed from Saidiya Hartman, a cultural historian who has written about the afterlife of slavery. Responding to the limits of official archives, she offers us “critical fabulation”—the use of storytelling and speculative narration as a means of redressing history’s omissions, particularly those in the lives of enslaved people. This gallery brings together recently made art that evokes Hartman’s method with a selection of early 20th-century photographs. Together they strive to tell what Hartman has described as “an impossible story.”