"I believe in making contradictions productive, not in having to choose one side or the other side. As opposed to choosing either or, choosing both." With these words, the activist and author Angela Davis not only foregrounds the dilemma of our historical moment, but also identifies the challenge it poses to the art museum. Global diversities are becoming more difficult to ignore, and communities are voicing their objections to a centuries-old, white-washed narrative of cultural history. At the heart of these shifts in representation, museums are working to rediscover the complexities and nuances that make up our world and recuperate voices that were previously silenced. Museums such as the TMA are taking a fresh, critical look at their collections to celebrate a broader diversity.
The works in Contrary Bodies, all from the TMA’s permanent collection, feature BIPOC, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community as artists and subjects. While these works represent a spectrum of social groups and cultures, bringing them together is not just about making differences visible. The human figure is depicted according to a variety of approaches – ranging from the intimate, to the erotic, to the formal – and in each case the depiction seems to question certain racialized or gendered assumptions about how such a figure should look and/or behave. In this sense, these works reject the constraints of otherness and declare something about what it means to be an active participant in the culture of global humanity.
This exhibition is curated and designed by students in the University of Toledo’s Art Museum Practices and Graphic and Interactive Design Concentrations.