About the exhibition

While the James Gallery's physical space is closed, please join us for remote events, listed below, related to this ongoing research and creative work.

With intensifying systemic inequalities around the world in the context of a global pandemic, accelerating climate change, an escalating refugee crisis and rising race-based violence, the idea of any singular, national “we” has never been more contested. Toxic conceptions of “us vs. them,” a doubling down of “me and mine,” underlie a global ethos of racialized nationalism. At the same time, we are in a generative yet tenuous time of community organizing, protest movements, mutual support, and intersectionality. Both responses stem from the language and feeling of injury and longing. When the notion of home is unstable, what are our options? As Paul Chan said, “Is there a direction home that doesn’t point backward?”

There is the possibility of “we.” How much should we invest in ideas of the “we”? How can we re-imagine nation, tribe, community? What practices of listening, sharing, and making could be enacted across varying visions of community, decolonization and self-determination? How does our complicity become constitutive of community as we imagine it? How do national identities shape our everyday lives? Which borders are permeable and which are sustainable? Which injuries are bearable and which are not? To quote Homi Bhabha, “When is a risk to life also a risk to living?”

The Racial Imaginary Institute and The James Gallery invites artists, writers, and thinkers to propose programs, exhibitions, and creative acts in response to these questions, with the aim of scrutinizing nationalisms and considering the fragility and possibility of “We.”

The Overpass Light Brigade of San Diego and Solidarity Brigade mobilized guerrilla light projections in solidarity with racial justice and immigrant rights. OLBSD went to UC San Diego pairing their messages with the lion signs expressing emotions of HOPE, ANGER and a desire for JUSTICE.