#BYOChair: Spatial Disruption for Justice
Parvathi Raman, Chair of the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, SOAS. writes, “The micro-politics of our everyday lives can often be hidden from view, giving the impression of monolithic institutions which render us powerless. But by giving centre stage to the creative art of people’s everyday socio-political space-making and diasporic practices, we can highlight not only how contemporary governance can be challenged, but can also be escaped, and on occasion, overturned.”
Raman’s quotation resonates with this multi-modal art exhibit held at Teachers College, Columbia University which responds to spatial in-justice by disrupting the gallery space at an elite college. Exploring the everyday disruption of spatial in-justice, this multi-modal art exhibit held at Teachers College, Columbia University responds to spatial in-justice by disrupting the gallery space at an elite college. The exhibit, running from April 10th- April 27th, reveals the struggle of one Black American man that was hidden from view because of the blatant denial of his experience due to the “optics of diversity,” that perpetually ignores or refuses to acknowledge the historicism of socio-economic adversity & inequality. Eurocentric canons and spatial privilege tend to over-determine the norms of creative spaces. The chair has come to symbolically represent power & status or the lack thereof. From the Lunch Counter Sit-ins in the American South to the grape boycotts in the West, a series of photographs strategically placed depict scenes of Black and Latino activists who used their seats to transform the proverbial table. Inspired by the Shirley Chisholm quote,“if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” are arranged to create a space that makes visible spatial inequity.