January 21 – April 25, 2021
Focusing on essential ephemera such as banners, posters, and zines, WHEN WE BREATHE WE BREATHE TOGETHER highlights iconic materials deployed in the direct actions, demonstrations, and interventions staged by the group Decolonize This Place. Drawing a through line between issues such as Indigenous sovereignty, gentrification, police brutality, anti-Black racism, Palestinian self-determination, and the colonial history of gallery and museum exhibition and collection practices, the group underscores the connections between site, displacement, and systemic oppression. Insisting on the synchrony between localized and global resistance movements, Decolonize This Place erases the division between art and activism while advocating for an ethos of abolition that is rooted in pedagogy, love, and collaboration, and aimed at transformative change and liberation.
Decolonize this Place (DTP) is an action-oriented movement and decolonial formation based in New York City. Facilitated by the collective MTL+, DTP consists of over 30 collaborators, consisting of grassroots groups and art collectives that seek to resist, unsettle, and reclaim the city. The organizing and action bring together many strands of analysis and traditions of resistance: Indigenous insurgence, Black liberation, free Palestine, free Puerto Rico, the struggles of workers and debtors, de-gentrification, migrant justice, challenges to patriarchy, and more. In some cases, they have used cultural institutions as platforms and amplifiers for movement demands, but they do not understand the transformation of these institutions as an end in or for itself. They aim to cultivate a politics of autonomy, solidarity, and mutual aid within a long-term, multi-generational horizon of decolonial, anti-capitalist, and feminist liberation that is animated by Grace Lee Bogg’s question: “What time is it on the clock of the world?”
Image: Front steps of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, which was last stop of the 4th Anti-Columbus Day Tour organized by Decolonize This Place and friends (October 2019).