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Okwui Enwezor’s Exhibition, ‘Grief And Grievance,’ To Open This Week

Essence logo Essence 2/15/2021 Mia Uzzell

This week, New York’s New Museum will open the posthumous exhibition of renowned curator Okwui Enwezor: “Grief And Grievance: Art and Mourning in America." The long-awaited showcase will be presented with support from the first Black chief curator of the Guggenheim Museum Naomi Beckwith, New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, artist Glenn Ligon, and curator Mark Nash.

“Grief and Grievance” is described as an “intergenerational exhibition” featuring 37 artists across various mediums reflecting on their respective generations. From videos and photographs to paintings and sculptures, the exhibit will encompass artwork of the last decade along with new commissions to show the role of mourning and commemoration in parallel to the heightened prominence of racial tensions in America’s political atmosphere. 

a man lying on a bed © Provided by Essence

From its conception, Enwezor envisioned the exhibition as his most personal and political curation. While Covid-19 delayed its opening (it was originally slated to open near the presidential election as a response to the nation’s dilapidated democracy and the rise of policy weaponizing), it is still an important time for this work. 


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“With the media’s normalization of white nationalism, the last two years have made clear that there is a new urgency to assess the role that artists, through works of art, have played to illuminate the searing contours of the American body politic,” Enwezor wrote in his initial narrative. 

The late curator believed that the concept of mourning transcends generational, social and economic boundaries to affect the reality of Black people in America at-large. 

a group of people posing for a photo © Provided by Essence

“‘Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America’ is a tribute to Okwui Enwezor’s courage, relentless focus, and fierce intelligence as a giant in our field and one of the most important curators of his generation. His presence remains vivid, as does his legacy to transform the history of art and exhibition-making,” Lisa Phillips of the New Museum said in a statement. “Okwui's vision and the voices of the artists selected for this exhibition could not be more relevant.”

“Grief and Grievance” will open on February 17 and be on display through June 6.

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