After Capitalism, What?
After Capitalism, What? (ACW) was a HCAH working group co-conceived by Christina Knight, Haverford Assistant Professor of Visual Studies; James Claiborne, Public Programming Manager at the African American Museum in Philadelphia; and Brittany Webb, Curator of the John Rhoden Collection at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
From fall of 2018 to summer of 2019, ACW brought together artists, scholars, curators and other cultural workers from the Philadelphia black arts sector, many of whom participated in Knight’s 2017 symposium, The Black Extra/ordinary. ACW was a think tank consisting of four conversations on imagining a world beyond the vast consumption, resource depletion, and power asymmetries of late capitalism. Beginning with the premise that cultural workers have a unique skillset to imagine the world otherwise, ACW functioned as a space for reading deeply, brainstorming and resource-sharing on the theme of a more equitable future, particularly for black Philadelphians.
Held on November 29th, 2018 at Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia, Christina Knight hosted meeting one as a book club-style event centered on adrienne marie brown’s recent book, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. In keeping with the book’s theme, the aim was to bring together a group of black cultural workers from primarily white institutions in order to think about how we might share resources as well as communicate struggles unique to our situations.
The second meeting on February 9th, 2019 was hosted by James Claiborne, who invited the group into his South Philly home for a salon-style gathering on the theme of jazz. A jam session centering on art and black futures, this gathering built on the first meeting’s focus on intentional community design. Jazz musician V. Shayne Frederick played music for the group based on the overlapping themes of blackness, capitalism and resistance.
The third meeting on April 24th, 2019 was hosted by Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts curator Brittany Webb. Building on the close reading of the first meeting, and the close listening of the second, this meeting was about close looking. Webb took the group on a private tour of her work with the John Rhoden Collection at PAFA and discussed her plans to create an archive and exhibition for the under-celebrated black sculptor.
For the fourth and final meeting on June 4th, 2019, the group gathered at The African American Museum in Philadelphia to see the two new shows in the galleries (DO or DIE: Affect, Ritual, Resistance featuring works by Fahamu Pecou, and Self-Evident by Sonya Clark). Sharing a dinner and focused conversation in the auditorium downstairs, participants spent time writing and talking about what sustainability looks like in each of our creative/institutional lives, as well as discussing what resources each of us might have to offer one another.