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Saturday 06/03/17 12:30PM
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Conversations Season-Related · Exhibition-Related

Demystifying Our Stories: Resistance and Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Traditions

Cover Image:

Renée Stout, I Can Heal, 2000–01. Neon sign and five objects, 28 ½ x 36 ½ x 5 in (72.4 × 92.7 × 12.7 cm). Collection Dean Dalton. Courtesy the artist

Tracing the work of an intergenerational group of activists who practice Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions, this talk by Rose Sackey-Milligan will consider the relationship between resistance movements and the practices of Hoodoo, Vodou, Santería, Obeah, and Palo, among others. From the Haitian revolution to contemporary struggles against racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and ableism, Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions have been a source of strength and healing for a community of grassroots organizers fighting for political empowerment.

The talk will be followed by an intimate workshop with Sackey-Milligan. To apply for the workshop, please email season@newmuseum.org describing your interest in Afro-Caribbean spirituality and activism.

Rose Sackey-Milligan became politically conscious when she was sixteen, during the period of decolonization in Africa and the Caribbean and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. She previously directed the Social Justice Program at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she focused on creating space for other activists and organizers to find health, centeredness, and well-being. She currently serves as co-director, with Raúl Quiñones-Rosado, of c-Integral in Puerto Rico. “Political struggle is not separate from the individual,” Sackey-Milligan has said. “The path of spirit is the path of becoming a better, more aligned human being.” She is excited about the heightened interest among movement activists in combining spiritual practice with political work: “We didn’t have the awareness that I see now during the period of worldwide African liberation during the 1960s. It feels like youth are learning from the mistakes of older generations about how we treat the Earth and interact in community. It feels like we are returning to traditional ideas of community love, support, and care.”

This talk is organized on the occasion of the exhibition and residency RAGGA NYC: All the threatened and delicious things joining one another,” presented through the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s R&D Season: BODY. RAGGA, a platform founded by Christopher Udemezue, connects a community of queer Caribbean artists working across a wide range of disciplines—including visual art, fashion, and poetry—to explore how race, sexuality, gender, heritage, and history inform their work and their lives. A vibrant community deeply committed to education and grassroots organizing, RAGGA fosters a network and an extended family that make space for solidarity, celebration, and expression. Their residency will explore Afro-Caribbean diasporic traditions, bringing together works by a group of artists who trace their own relationships to Caribbean history and take up Édouard Glissant’s claim that “the language of the Caribbean artist does not originate in the obsession with celebrating his inner self; this inner self is inseparable from the future evolution of his community [in which] he is his own ethnologist, historian, [and] linguist.” The exhibition title quotes Glissant’s description of a world in which beings can come together under a veil of opacity and create a new model of relation that preserves difference.

Sponsors

Artist commissions at the New Museum are generously supported
by the Neeson / Edlis Artist Commissions Fund.

Artist residencies are made possible, in part, by Laurie Wolfert.

Additional support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

We gratefully acknowledge the New Museum Council for Artists’ Research and Residencies: Alexandra Bowes, Gregory R. Miller and Michael Wiener,
and Laurie Wolfert, Co-Chairs; Dr. Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons,
Terry Gamble Boyer and Peter Boyer, Isolde Brielmaier, Jenny Choo,
Lonti Ebers and Bruce Flatt, Julia Gruen, Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham,
and the Mimi Saltzman Foundation.​

Additional support is provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund; and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum.

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