LOS ANGELES — In the court proceedings following the 1991 beating of Rodney King, the public learned of an acronym routinely used by the Los Angeles Police Department to refer to “young Black males who belong to the jobless category of the inner-city ghettos”: N.H.I., short for No Humans Involved. The acronym became the starting point for Jamaican writer and theorist Sylvia Wynter to pull apart what it means to be human in her seminal 1994 essay “No Humans Involved: An Open Letter to my Colleagues,” as well as the title for the exhibition currently on view at the Hammer Museum. Curated by Erin Christovale and Vanessa Arizmendi, No Humans Involved is a visual continuation of Wynter’s critical reassessment, centering the point of view of Black and brown artists — the very voices originally deemed unfit to be considered human.
The group of seven artists all reconsider the theme through equally compelling visions: the duo SANGREE, for example, reframe human origin stories with their installation of whimsical artifacts recalling Aztec civilizations and ethnographic displays, while Wilmer Wilson IV presents two versions of a letter calling for African American human rights to be recognized, each one engraved into monumental salt blocks, thus confronting the persistent gap in the way in which humanity has been narrated and self-narrated over time. However, the strongest visual throughline in the exhibition evokes skin — blown up across Sondra Perry’s lenticular panels, filtered through skylight and WangShui’s sci-fi lens, and stitched back together in Tau Lewis’ garment-like constructions — as if these artists are ripping apart humanity’s casing and taking apart its guts in order to examine its makeup and reconstitute what it has the capacity to mean. By embracing the “nonhuman” as a point of departure instead of having to justify or prove the humanity of its artists, the exhibition succeeds in presenting a more generative, more expansive definition of what humanity is allowed to look and feel like.
No Humans Involved continues at the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles) through January 9, 2022. The exhibition is curated by Erin Christovale, associate curator, with Vanessa Arizmendi, curatorial assistant.
This week, news outlets flock to TikTok, New York Times staff strikes, the problem with the phrase “late-term abortion,” and was the North Pole once a forest?
The 11,000-year-old wall relief discovered in Southeastern Turkey may reflect humans’ changing roles in the natural world during the Neolithic Revolution.
The Brazilian artist forced the museum to remove his work from a show about the Black experience, calling it “White man’s theater.”
In an era of fast fashion and sweatshop exploitation, the artist demonstrates how far an industry will go to keep workers out of the picture.
This adventurous theater festival returns in person with 36 artists and companies from nine countries performing at different venues across the city.
Both Don Ed Hardy and Laurie Steelink refuse to adhere to traditional artistic hierarchies, an attitude they have shared throughout their 30-year friendship.
It took over 37 hours to pull 1,900 miles of glass filament to create the garment, now on view at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Learn more about the New York-based, globally linked program and its upcoming discussions on art and society in the time of AI and data governance.
An insidious racism is at play in interviewer Henri Renaud’s attempt to groom Thelonious Monk for public consumption on French television.
The last few years at the museum have not been without controversy, and Decatur will inherit a record of workforce struggles.
The program, along with recently announced visiting critics, will provide long term funding, promote access, and safeguard experimentation for future students of color.
Refugees of the Moria camp in Lesvos, Greece are behind the camera in the film Nothing About Us Without Us.
Helen Molesworth’s true-crime sensation marginalizes the artist’s life and legacy.