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TRII: An Interdisciplinary Cultural Laboratory

Race is one of the prime ways history lives in us.

About the Institute

Our name “racial imaginary” is meant to capture the enduring truth of race: it is an invented concept that nevertheless operates with extraordinary force in our daily lives, limiting our movements and imaginations. We understand that perceptions, resources, rights, and lives themselves flow along racial lines that confront some of us with restrictions and give others uninterrogated power. These lines are drawn and maintained by white dominance even as individuals and communities alike continually challenge them.

Because no sphere of life is untouched by race, the Institute gathers under its aegis an interdisciplinary range of artists, writers, knowledge-producers, and activists. It convenes a cultural laboratory in which the racial imaginaries of our time and place are engaged, read, countered, contextualized and demystified.

What we do

We are committed to the activation of interdisciplinary work and a democratized exploration of race in our lives. The Institute will take the form of a moving collaboration with other collectives, spaces, artists, and organizations towards art exhibitions, readings, dialogues, lectures, performances, and screenings that engage the subject of race. The Racial Imaginary website will function as an online portal to the activities of the Institute. All events at The Racial Imaginary Institute are open to the public.

Our first issue

The Institute begins with a focus on whiteness because we believe that in our current moment whiteness is freshly articulated: the volume on whiteness has been turned up. Whiteness as a source of unquestioned power, and as a “bloc,” feels itself to be endangered even as it retains its hold on power. Given that the concept of racial hierarchy is a strategy employed to support white dominance, whiteness is an important aspect of any conversation about race. We begin here in order to make visible that which has been intentionally presented as inevitable so that we can move forward into more revelatory conversations about race. Our first project questions what can be made when we investigate, evade, beset and call out bloc-whiteness.

The future

The future includes the proliferation of our activities into other field sites: pop-up versions of the Institute will emerge in different communities through collaborative efforts between the Institute’s staff and the community’s local artists, organizers, and writers.

Our curatorial team

Claudia Rankine, Poet, Essayist, Playwright
LeRonn P. Brooks, Curator
Monica Youn, Poet
Stephen Wilson, Writer and Curator (based in London, UK)
Emily Skillings, Poet
John Lucas, Filmmaker
Sara’o Bery, Producer
Nuar Alsadir, Writer and Psychoanalyst
Simon Wu, Curator and Program Coordinator of TRII