The ICA’s ‘Great Force’ opens tonight at First Friday

Photo by Wessam Hazaymeh

Iman Mekonen, Spectrum Editor

The Institute for Contemporary Art’s newest exhibition, Great Force, will open tonight at its First Friday celebration. 

The exhibition features pieces from 24 established and emerging artists and focuses on subjects of black and white racial inequality, comparing and contrasting slavery and contemporary racial oppression. 

The artwork within the exhibit includes a range of mediums, including art on canvas, sculptures, film, photography and dance performances. 

Featured artist Xaviera Simmons presents the digital video installation “Capture” that addresses the history of slave labor in America. Photo by Wessam Hazaymeh
“Capture” by Xaviera Simmons. Photo by Wessam Hazaymeh
“Capture” by Xaviera Simmons. Photo by Wessam Hazaymeh

The name of the exhibition is borrowed from a quote by activist and novelist James Baldwin: “The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.”

Recent movements, such as Black Lives Matter, and instances of racism have been prominent topics of discussion; 2019 is the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of African slaves to what is now the United States. 

“We’ve seen, whether it’s directly or indirectly, a lot of historical and cultural institutions in the country developed projects this year that have to be seen in that context,” said ICA director Dominic Willsdon.

“In many ways, the story of the United States is the story of race,” Willsdon said.

The exhibit will be on display at the ICA from Oct. 5 through Jan. 5, 2020. To learn more, visit

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