Mar 4th 2022

In Conversation:
Artists Xyza Cruz Bacani, Jessica Chou, Farah Salem  

Friday, March 4, 12 p.m. CT
This in-person event will be filmed and available on at a later date.

Xyza Cruz Bacani is a Filipina street and documentary photographer based in New York and Hong Kong, who uses her practice to raise awareness about under-reported stories with a focus on the intersection of labor migration and human rights. Jessica Chou is a photographer based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Selections from her Suburban Chinatown body of work offer a multicultural and expansive update to representations of American suburban life. Farah Salem is a Chicago-based artist and art therapist from Kuwait, whose photography, performance, and installation practice explores subtle affinities between natural landscapes, the human psyche, fiber-material structures, and experiences of gender.

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Beautiful Diaspora / You Are Not the Lesser Part advocates dialogue and solidarity across the spectrum of experiences of global artists of color and Black diasporic artists. Two exhibition concepts and their interchangeable titles intertwine as one, breaking with more frequent traditions of ethnically separated and disconnected exhibition spaces in museology and the art world.

As a global forum, Beautiful Diaspora considers contemporary art as central to the portrayal of expansiveness—beyond a single-country scope, political commodity, or compressed narrative. This beautiful expansiveness exists as a testament to human spatial wandering and assertion, existing beyond assumptions and boundaries.

You Are Not the Lesser Part challenges the pervasive social casualness of assigning bodies and identities to the category “minority” (quite a mis-imagining). Neither negligible nor small, the significance of our presence is not the lesser part of anything. The description word “minor” does not match our fullness, agency, and dreams.

There’s a desire to encourage deep thinking about parallel experiences and relationships between global artists of color and diverse Black artists. Part of the goal of the two titles is that museum visitors are invited to be active in thinking through different ways individual artists and artworks may fit together, or why it might be assumed that they don’t fit. This exhibition is asking people to consider why we categorize the way that we do—within museums exhibitions, but also in the world outside. This group of artists by many conventions isn’t one that would usually be shown together under identity concepts.

The visual conversation among these fifteen artists defies the imposed political distances and legacies of colonialism that prefer they (we) neither align nor meet. There is a significance, and a hope, to diverse Black and global artists of color together in shared space.

Beautiful Diaspora / You Are Not the Lesser Part features photographic and multidisciplinary artists Xyza Cruz Bacani, Widline Cadet, Jessica Chou, Cog•nate Collective (Amy Sanchez Arteaga and Misael Diaz), Işıl Eğrikavuk, Citlali Fabián, Sunil Gupta, Kelvin Haizel, David Heo, Damon Locks, Johny Pitts, Farah Salem, Ngadi Smart, Tintin Wulia, and the debut of Abena Appiah.

-Asha Iman Veal, Associate Curator


The MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2021-2022 exhibition season is sponsored in part by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund, the Henry Nias Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Beautiful Diaspora/You Are Not the Lesser Part has been generously supported through the Lannan Foundation.

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