Image of expressionistic painted flowers


BIG IDEAS in Art and Culture Lecture Series featuring Aruna D’Souza

An Art of Opacity

Informed by Édouard Glissant’s notion of “the right of opacity” for the colonial subject—a right stripped by the colonizer, who surveils every aspect of that subject’s experience, and denies the existence of what he cannot see—a number of artists, including Jennifer Packer, Simone Leigh, Dawoud Bey, and Rose-Janan Uddoh have explored the power of withdrawing from view as a central aspect in their work. 

This lecture compliments the inclusion of D'Souza's book Whitewalling: Art, Race and Protest in Three Acts in the CAFKA Summer Reading Series: White Elephant Edition. Accompanying the 2021 biennial program, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, CAFKA has programmed a series of book clubs, reading groups, and public lectures that seek to interrogate racism and white supremacy, drive community dialogue on issues of social justice, and facilitate working strategies to actively dismantle these ongoing systems of oppression. 

Image: Say Her Name, 2017 Oil on canvas 121.9 x 101.6 cm 48 x 40 inches Private Collection. Courtesy the Artist, Corvi-Mora, London and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York Photo: Matt Grubb


Aruna D'Souza writes about modern and contemporary art; intersectional feminisms and other forms of politics; and how museums shape our views of each other and the world. Her work appears regularly in, where she is a member of the editorial advisory board, and is a contributor to The New York Times. Her writing has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal,, Art News, Garage, Bookforum, Momus, Art in America, and Art Practical, among other places. Her most recent book, Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts (Badlands Unlimited), was named one of the best art books of 2018 by the New York Times. She is editing a forthcoming volume for Thames and Hudson, Making It Modern: A Linda Nochlin Reader. She is also editor of Lorraine O’Grady’s Writing in Space 1973-2018 (Duke University Press, 2020), and is co-curator of the retrospective of O’Grady’s work, Both/And, which opened in March 2021 at the Brooklyn Museum. 

Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts (Badlands Unlimited), was named one of the best art books of 2018 by the New York Times. Through three controversial case studies of artworks and exhibitions in New York, D'Souza articulates how white supremacy is ingrained into the structure of museums and the wider art world.


Presented in Partnership with Musagetes