Speaking Truth to Reconciliation


Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver Speaking Truth to Reconciliation (a project in two parts) Abbas Akhavan, Kristina Lee Podesva, Mohammad Salemy
September 11th to October 31st, 2009

Race: Proposals in Truth and Reconciliation

This projec examined the possibilities of talking about race today. It grew from a belief that I still hold - that it is critical that we continue to challenge the conditions of racism, marginality, exclusion, and xenophobia. But how does one approach talking about a subject whose archaeologies of knowledge have been laden with histories of conflict and contestation? And how does one do this with a commitment to generosity, truthfulness, and reconciliation?

Over the last few years, there has been an escalating presence of race in every aspect of social, political, and economic life. Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech in Philadelphia in 2008 became the most popular video in the world, drawing 1.2 million views in the first 24 hours after it aired. Described by some writers as the most important speech on race given by any American politician, it pointed to the fact that racial discord in the US, although entrenched, distracting, and emotional, was not necessarily intractable. It is this disavowal of intractability that formed the core of Speaking Truth to Reconciliation. Is it possible to engage with a fraught subject, but with a commitment to moving beyond questions of accountability or accusation, towards a conversation that both acknowledges the conditions of exclusion, while seeking shared ground?

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