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“I noticed it said the word “Power” ☊ and then it kind of hit me. The word power is white and then I thought white power and I was like sh–. . And then I just kind of stared at it for a bit and just took it in and it dawned on me that that phrase was hidden behind more beads. So on one hand, you can’t really cover it up completely you got to acknowledge that it’s still there. No matter how beautiful you make it, it’s still there but the other side was we can still grow something out of this and change it and it gets better slowly but surely.”

Kenneth, Bella Vista, AR

Cover image: “Nick Cave: Until” | Courtesy of MASS MoCA | Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside

The Momentary’s exhibition sparks visions of a more just and diverse future for Arkansans

Reimagine Arkansas Responses to “Nick Cave: Until” at The Momentary

12

Cities/Towns

25

Voices

2

Days
The following contains interactive audio elements.
How to Listen:

Move your finger over the underlined, highlighted words and click to hear that particular piece of audio and to read the broader context of the speaker’s quote.

How to Listen:

Move your cursor over the underlined, highlighted words and click to hear that particular piece of audio and to read the broader context of the speaker’s quote.

Over three days in early December 2020, Reimagine Arkansas set up a sound booth inside Bentonville’s new contemporary art space, the Momentary, which was transformed by the exhibition Nick Cave: Until.

Surrounded by colorful wind spinners, found objects, miles of beads and a crystal cloud that you can reach by ladder, the conversations became a rare and beautiful way ☊ to talk about difficult things, facilitate refreshing experiences ☊ , and open up new perspectives ☊ to the issues in front of us.

 

What was immediately apparent was the overwhelmingness ☊ of it all, which included an awe of bringing color ☊ like this together, the millions ☊ of hours spent producing the work, and the feeling of being in a different dimension ☊. Knowledge of the Momentary’s history ☊ offered an instructive lens through which to view the repurposed objects ☊ in new ways and unexpected purposes ☊.

While some saw images of heaven in the way the artist put it all together ☊, most struggled with the troubling truths ☊ behind the beauty. Shimmering, twirling guns created feelings of vulnerability ☊ and pushed people off center ☊. Others recalled racist upbringings that were all about the white man ☊ and relationships with parents and grandparents ☊ that shaped their thoughts. And prejudices masked ☊ as normal everyday life offered a glimpse of what we need to fix ☊ while still on earth. Perhaps the most straightforward observation came from nine-year old Casey: “I like how it showed that Black people matter ☊ too. And that, it’s just beautiful.”
While some saw images of heaven in the way the artist put it all together ☊, most struggled with the troubling truths ☊ behind the beauty. Shimmering, twirling guns created feelings of vulnerability ☊ and pushed people off center ☊. Others recalled racist upbringings that were all about the white man ☊ and relationships with parents and grandparents ☊ that shaped their thoughts. And prejudices masked ☊ as normal everyday life offered a glimpse of what we need to fix ☊ while still on earth. Perhaps the most straightforward observation came from nine-year old Casey: “I like how it showed that Black people matter ☊ too. And that, it’s just beautiful.”
For many viewers, the key to imagining a different future is righting the wrongs of the past and recognizing that no one is too old ☊ to join this effort. It requires learning the truth ☊ of our history in classrooms, including events such as the Elaine ☊ and Tulsa massacres; creating proximity ☊ to people that are different than you; recognizing minoritized communities ☊; and refusing to cover up ☊ our past. Participants dreamed of a future where we pay closer attention ☊ to the environment, participate in peaceful protests ☊, squash disparities ☊, change laws ☊, and take action ☊.
The future for Christy, a visitor from Tulsa, is even one where our corporate world is based on human connection ☊ rather than transactional relationships. Echoing the call for more diverse and inclusive spaces, Bruce, an artist from Little Rock, hopes for more genuineness in this corporate inclusion craze ☊.

 

At the end of the listening sessions, even the interviewer was interviewed. Sean from Little Rock reflected on the relationships he developed simply by asking questions and listening ☊ to what the art tells you. For him, a reimagined Arkansas is one of justice ☊, where there are consequences for your actions and there are benefits of being kind to others.

The future for Christy, a visitor from Tulsa, is even one where our corporate world is based on human connection ☊ rather than transactional relationships. Echoing the call for more diverse and inclusive spaces, Bruce, an artist from Little Rock, hopes for more genuineness in this corporate inclusion craze ☊.

 

At the end of the listening sessions, even the interviewer was interviewed. Sean from Little Rock reflected on the relationships he developed simply by asking questions and listening ☊ to what the art tells you. For him, a reimagined Arkansas is one of justice ☊, where there are consequences for your actions and there are benefits of being kind to others.

Constellation Kit

Explore this collection of artwork and artist statements inspired by our conversations at The Momentary. Download freely, amplify and share generously. Give back if you can.

Artist Ariel Romero

Ariel Romero

Artist

2020 was a challenging year with much social turmoil as the country came to face its own racial inequalities. Nick Cave’s “Until” proved to be a timely commentary on systemic racism, justice, and racial reconciliation. The conversations about the exhibit reveal themes about looking beyond the facade and beauty in diversity.
I chose to focus my designs on these themes. Using urban and heaven imagery along with color as a visual metaphor, these designs represent the hope of shattering the facade and encourage the viewer to reimagine Arkansas as a doorway into a more diverse future. If we commit to equality, justice, and kindness, maybe we can be a reflection of heaven.
Artist Kahlief Steele

Kahlief Steele

Artist

When I heard the reactions to Nick Cave’s UNTIL collected by Reimagine Arkansas, I felt a multitude of emotions wash over me – love, pain, empathy, and curiosity, to name several. In a sense, it was a microcosm of my experience with the exhibit itself. By bringing up the question of “Does racism exist in heaven?” Cave ushers audiences (myself included) into a state of perplexity. “If there is good in experiences that appear to be bad, is there evil in experiences that appear to be good?”
That question alone inspired me to create this work. By juxtaposing quotes from the interviews and vibrant colors with noisy, choppy footage and black and white imagery, I aimed to provide a visual and auditory experience that brought that mindset to the forefront. As a society, we tend to look at issues, events, and people as being black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. While we can appreciate that minorities are generally faring better today than they were a century ago, it’s important to not take our feet off the gas in our pursuit for justice. Decisions we make every day still affect those around us in unseen ways. Functions of society that we’ve gotten comfortable with don’t provide equal opportunity for everyone. We must be willing to continue to leave our comfort zone and advocate for those who might be experiencing a different America than we are.
Artist J’Aaron Merchant

J'Aaron Merchant

Artist

It’s both heartbreaking and beautiful to see that no matter the circumstance Black people matter. Through all of the joy, pain, and heartache we will continue to matter. I created a visual representation that displays that. It’s an amazing contrast to see and shows that even through all of the turmoil and destruction we as a people can still find beauty in simply being here.
Artist Andrew Brott

Andrew Brott

Artist

With these visuals, I wanted to embody the amount and variety of work that goes into producing an exhibition at the scale of Nick Cave: Until. I wanted to reflect the artist’s intention through the use of an art label. Until was meant to spark conversation, and I think museum interpretation, something we’re all used to, can help to facilitate that. These graphics are meant to speak to that dialogue.

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Reimagine Arkansas

Because the future belongs to all of us.

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