Engagement with Reconstitution

Posted on February 11, 2020 by Isadora Italia

On view now through May 31, Reconstitution considers privileged histories in Western institutional settings, such as academia and museums, whose origins are rooted in colonialism. The concept of the exhibition originated with a suite of engravings in the Hood Museum's collection by Crispijn de Passe's (1564–1637), Four Continents (ca. 1590), which present allegorical figures depicting Africa, America, Asia, and Europe, all as anglicized female figures with only Europe fully clothed. Reconstitution examines how artists contend with, reconstitute, and expand these entrenched narratives while reminding us that we are all agents in the ongoing, complicated processes of writing history.

Artists represented include Gina Adams, Enrique Chagoya, Renee Cox, Terrence Koh, Nomusa Mahkubu, Yasumasa Morimura, Lin Tianmiao, and Simone Leigh. All but one of the objects are from the Hood's permanent collection.

"Reconstitution is a prompt not an argument. It asks, who has the right to history? Moreover, who has the right to write history? Bringing together a range of artists and varying facets of the Hood Museum's collections, this exhibition is intended to be a space for questioning, a space for critical reflection and conversation, and a space of ambiguity," says Jessica Hong, associate curator of global contemporary art and exhibition curator. 

Several public programs will accompany this exhibition:

  • On February 19 at 12:30pm, Hong will give a tour of the exhibition; free and open to all.
  • Artist Gina Adams, whose Ancestor Beadwork series is on view, will lead an Open Letter Cutting Session on February 21 from 11am to 3:30pm in the Hood Museum's atrium.
  • Additionally, Gina Adams will do a Broken Treaty Reading Performance in the galleries on February 21 at 5pm.
  • On February 27, artist Dell Hamilton will perform "Blues\Blank\Black," a roving performance that conflates fiction, folklore, live art, and persona to interrogate trauma, perception, and spectatorship.

In addition, a number of classes and campus groups have visited or will visit the exhibition, including Trica Keaton's Intro to African-American Studies; Susan Overton's Sex, Gender, and Society; Chad Elias and Mary Coffey's Intro to Contemporary Art; John Kulvicki's True, Beautiful, Nasty: Philosophy and The Arts; and the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact's Foundations in Social Impact program.  

Make sure to visit the exhibition before it closes on May 31. Admission is free to all.

This exhibition is organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and was generously supported by the Philip Fowler 1927 Memorial Fund.


Written February 11, 2020 by Isadora Italia