Curated by Kimberly Phillips and Vanessa Kwan, Unwilling: Exercises in Melancholy proposes a re-consideration of melancholia defined through our contemporary condition. Resisting the historical definition of melancholy as an affliction that creates disorder or inactivity, this exhibition reimagines passive sadness as powerful refusal, a conscious (or unconscious) “standing aside,” a willful production of generative failures and resistant potencies. Each of the contributing artists begins with the idea that outside the boundaries of “contentment” resides a potent flourishing. Unwilling is a resistance and a proposition: it responds to the profound cultural reckoning we are witnessing in this moment in time, as the boundaries and exclusions of state-defined citizenship become increasingly fraught.
Featuring work by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Mike Bourscheid, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Justine A. Chambers, and Noa Giniger.
Unwilling: Exercises in Melancholy is made possible with support from the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. The exhibition is organized in conjunction with the Hurford Center’s 2017–18 Faculty Seminar “The Arts of Melancholy” led by Richard Freedman (Music).
Filmed and edited by Shawn Kornhauser. Music by Jay Purdy.