Organized by Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow 2017-19, Daniella Rose King, The Last Place They Thought Of explores how geographical, ideological and spatial paradigms determine and reproduce uneven social relations. Four artists – Torkwase Dyson, Lorraine O’Grady, Jade Montserrat, and Keisha Scarville – take very different approaches to this phenomenon, deeply considering how histories of racial, sexual, and economic exploitation have shaped our understanding of geography, and the realities of our environment. Through abstraction, performance, and fiction, this intergenerational group of artists conspire with a cadre of writers, including Katherine McKittrick, from whom the exhibition title was borrowed. Illuminating histories of black women’s liberation, resistance and concealment throughout the black diaspora, this exhibition creates a discursive locus to reconsider geographic space; as it pertains to the environment and our changing climate, how it regulates the production and performance of identity, and upholds material and metaphorical borders and boundaries.
McKittrick herself was referencing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, an autobiographical narrative of Harriet Jacobs’s protracted escape from bondage, hiding in “the last place they thought of”; the crawl space of her grandmother’s attic. Literal and rhetorical marginalization, being in the last place is an experiential geography of black gendered bodies. This exhibition and accompanying publication seeks to explore the possibility of different, critical engagements with geography through the lens of black female subjectivities and feminisms.