About the exhibition

"Reckoning with the Crisis of Imagination" is a series of programs that aims to collectively create a space to respond to, interpret and navigate what is at once outrageous, overwhelming, and also mobilizing about our current impasse. A variety of activities in multiple forms and mediums will take place in and around the James Gallery, ranging from workshops, performance art, presentations, stand-up comedy, panel discussions, dance, community organizing strategizing, and more. These activities will utilize the gallery as a public good by bringing together people from a variety of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives to think about how to build a more inclusive “we” and to creatively respond to a time of ongoing crises.   

In the face of greatly reduced political horizons, the breakdown of liberal democracy and the rise of racist, autocratic political power, there is a great need and opportunity to examine our individual and collective failures to imagine how bad things can get, did get (ie. Trump winning, Brexit) and are continuing to get, and to imagine what alternative futures are desirable and viable.  

In the ongoing present, as it can feel that things are both radically different and exactly the same as they’ve always been, “Reckoning with the Crisis of Imagination” asks:

During a time when there is no clear alternative to the new-old status quo, in what ways can political and cultural strategies of “critique,” “solidarity” and “resistance” be reconceptualized? What does being “shocked” signify? How is it possible, as Masha Gessen urges, “to maintain one’s capacity for shock in the face of the impulse to normalize,” and, at the same time, grapple with the feeling of “profound shock” that the “impossible” could happen (Trump, Brexit), which reflects, as Zadie Smith suggests, “that we must have been living behind a kind of veil, unable to see our own country for what it has become”? How can groups and individuals devise “shocking” strategies and unexpected approaches to disrupt the new-old status quo?

This series of programs is conceived and organized by Katherine Carl and James Sevitt.

Co-sponsored by Ph.D. Program in Theatre, Teaching and Learning Center, and The Center for the Humanities.

Wheelchair Accessibility