Apr 26–Aug 11, 2019

Colored People Time: Quotidian Pasts

W.O. Oldman with masks and headdresses, c. 1920, gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Te Papa 0.027326. Pacific and Atlantic Photos Ltd.

Quotidian Pasts, the second chapter in the three-part exhibition series Colored People Time, reconsiders the trafficking of blackness through the colonial practices of collecting, commodifying, and exhibiting people and objects from the African continent. This exhibition, produced in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, turns its lens toward early-twentieth-century anthropological displays. The long history of the exploitation of both African people and their cultures is told through the configuration of a few small objects—a photograph, a journal entry, a letter. Featuring a newly commissioned work by the artist Matthew Angelo Harrison, Quotidian Pasts questions: What confers authenticity? How does an object change when dislocated from its time and place within the context of the museum?

Related Programs

This exhibition will be accompanied by a series of dialogues with scholars, critics, and artists, on colonialism, restitution and repatriation, and the role of the contemporary art museum in addressing these issues. Program information will be posted on ICA’s website.


Colored People Time: Quotidian Pasts is organized by Meg Onli, ICA Assistant Curator and Monique Scott, Director of Museum Studies at Bryn Mawr College. A fully illustrated catalogue will be published in early 2020.

Major support for Colored People Time: Quotidian Pasts has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Additional support has been provided by Arthur Cohen & Daryl Otte, Cheri & Steven Friedman, and Brett & Daniel Sundheim. Exhibitions at ICA are supported by Stephanie and David Simon.

Installation Views