Speaking about the works in Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, artist Amanda Williams told the New York Times, “Folks who...think we’re going to solve gentrification—or other problems we understand personally and very well but didn’t create—they won’t find any of that.” Instead of being a tool for fixing what has been broken, Williams asserts that architecture can be “a vehicle for liberation and joy.”
Williams’s words remind me of many artworks in MoMA’s newest online course, Reimagining Blackness and Architecture, including Tourmaline’s film Salacia (about which curator Thomas J. Lax has written on Magazine).
Combing through archives, weaving together divergent viewpoints, and using the “magic of narrative” to fill in whatever gaps the artist encountered, Salacia recalls the power of self-making. Whether confronting the ruin of climate change or shaping our houses into homes, Black people across time have turned to imagination, storytelling, and invention as paths to freedom, becoming, as Lax puts it, “anything we want to be.”
Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America is on view through May 31. You can now enroll in MoMA’s new online course, Reimagining Blackness and Architecture. Through original films, audio interviews, and short readings, the course will introduce learners to the ways in which Black artists, architects, scholars, and writers have responded to these histories of violence and exclusion to create new ways of being, reimagining the spaces that have refused us.
The exhibition is made possible by Allianz, MoMA’s partner for design and innovation.
Volkswagen of America is proud to be MoMA’s lead partner of education.
MoMA Audio is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.