Over the year of 2019, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania presented the experimental exhibition Colored People Time. Organized by Meg Onli and divided into three distinct chapters–Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, and Banal Presents–the exhibition used the black vernacular phrase “Colored People’s Time” (CPT) to explore the ways that dominant notions of time have been used to control and condemn black people across times and spaces. CPT names a political performance by black people to evade, frustrate, and ridicule the enforcement of punctuality and productivity, key disciplinary structures of capitalism. In addition, CPT challenges and disavows the predominant opinion that being “on time” is the only way of being “in time.” The artists represented within this exhibition include: Aria Dean, Kevin Jerome Everson, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Carolyn Lazard, Dave McKenzie, Cameron Rowland, Sable Elyse Smith, and Martine Syms; accompanied by historical objects from the Black Panther Party, Sutton E. Griggs, the National Institutes of Health/Getty Images, and the African Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Doubling as a reader on the phrase that inspired the exhibition, Colored People Time includes reprints of seminal essays, newly commissioned writing, poetry, and a performance score ready to be activated in a time to come. This catalog includes text from Huey Copeland, Eve Ewing, Michael Hanchard, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Amber Rose Johnson, Carolyn Lazard, Jessica Lynne, Tausif Noor, Meg Onli, Gregory Pardlo, M. NourbeSe Philip, Monique Scott, Martine Syms, and Michelle M. Wright.