by Sukanya GargSep 05, 2020
The Ford Foundation, in February 2019, announced the opening of the Ford Foundation Gallery in New York, an innovative exhibition space dedicated to presenting multidisciplinary art, performance, and public programming by artists committed to exploring issues of justice and injustice.
The new 1,900-square-foot gallery is located at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, a landmark of modern architecture that serves as the foundation’s headquarters and reopened in November 2018 after a two-year renovation. In creating a space for artists whose work addresses pressing social issues, the foundation continues its decades-long history of investing in the arts to advance human welfare.
“The Ford Foundation Gallery is the latest reflection of our deep commitment to the arts, from supporting trailblazing dance and theatre around the country to investing in transformative artists around the world who push boundaries and challenge the status quo,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “Arts and creative expression have played an indelible role in building social justice movements. We’re thrilled to open the doors of this special space, a forum for artists to experiment and create a vibrant and necessary dialogue with the public.”
With a mission focused on addressing inequality in all its forms, and providing more than $600 million annually in grant support to organisations in four continents, the Ford Foundation is a natural home for art that challenges viewers to grapple with fundamental questions of fairness and dignity.
The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Perilous Bodies, opened on March 5, 2019, and ran through May 11, 2019. The exhibiting artists included Nona Faustine, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, and Sara Rahbar. The multi-disciplinary exhibition comprised works across various formats, including photography, video, sculpture and installation work. Performance art was also a central aspect of the show wherein the artists used the art form to address concerns regarding oppression in their native contexts and traditions. The artists explored themes of racism, classism, gender inequality, and xenophobia in their works and brought to the forefront the often visible but ignored discrimination and oppression impressed upon certain sections of people. Through these works, the artists sought to transform a world in peril into one we all want to live in.
According to Lisa Kim, director of the Ford Foundation Gallery, “Perilous Bodies explores the inhumanity and injustice created by divisions of gender, race, class, and ethnicity. The artists in the exhibition offer a raw and honest look at the issues we must address head-on to ensure dignity for all.”
Perilous Bodies was the first in the series of a trilogy of exhibitions planned in the gallery's inaugural year. Together, the exhibitions will offer diverse expressions on the theme of Utopian Imagination. Jointly curated by Jaishri Abichandani and Natasha Becker, the series will bring together international artists, working across media, advocating for a more egalitarian world.