The Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism

Copublished with the Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart and LAXART, Los Angeles

Edited by Rhea Anastas, Charles Gaines, Jamillah James, and Eric Golo Stone. With texts by Rhea Anastas, Charles Gaines, Jamillah James, Eric Golo Stone. Text by Rhea Anastas, Maurice Berger, Charles Gaines, Catherine Lord, Fred Moten, et al.
Design by Scott Ponik
208 pages, 40 images, softcover with jacket, 8 1/2 x 11 inches
ISBN 13: 978-1-954947-10-8


Awaiting Stock. Available for Preorder

In 1993, at the University of California, Irvine, Charles Gaines and Catherine Lord mounted a category-breaking exhibition of Black artists from different generations, working across Fluxus, Conceptualism, assemblage, photography, and new forms of installation. Challenging the racializing of Black artists’ work, the experimental exhibition confronted the discourse around race difference in the United States by including excerpts of writing by art critics, alongside Gaines’s research related to the reception of the exhibition’s artists in a reading room. This publication reprints the eponymous 1994 publication that documented the show, which contained essays by Maurice Berger and Gaines and the transcript of a roundtable that included a range of artists and writers, on its thirtieth anniversary. Reproducing images of the exhibition for the first time in color, this new edition augments the original publication with an essay by poet and scholar Fred Moten; recent conversations between Lord and Gaines and between Fred Moten and Charles Gaines; and a roundtable discussion that echoes the first, moderated and edited by curator Jamillah James and Thomas (T.) Jean Lax.

Artists include: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Renée Green, David Hammons, Ben Patterson, Sandra Rowe, Gary Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Pat Ward Willams, Fred Wilson

Contributors include: Hilton Als, American Artist, Rhea Anastas, Maurice Berger, Charles Gaines, Thelma Golden, Eric Golo Stone, Jamillah James, Thomas (T.) Jean Lax, Lizzetta Lefalle-Collins, Catherine Lord, Rodney McMillian, Ben Patterson, Sandra Rowe, Gary Simmons, Cauleen Smith, Pat Ward Williams

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