The Hammer Museum at UCLA presents “No Humans Involved,” a group exhibition of works by seven artists and collectives — Eddie Aparicio, Tau Lewis, Las Nietas de Nonó, Sondra Perry, SANGREE, WangShui and Wilmer Wilson IV — whose work interrogates and disrupts Western modes of humanism.
Taking its title from a letter written by the cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, “No Humans Involved: An Open Letter to My Colleagues,” the exhibition expands on Wynter’s ideas by highlighting practices that center non-Western knowledge and spiritual practices, challenge the limits of corporeal identity, and consider the nonhuman or antihuman as a point of departure.
Organized by Erin Christovale, associate curator, with Vanessa Arizmendi, curatorial assistant, “No Humans Involved” features sculptures, performances, installations, and multimedia works — most newly created for this exhibition.
“No Humans Involved” opens on Oct. 10, with performances by Las Nietas de Nonó and will be accompanied by a series of public programs, screenings and a digital symposium on the themes of the exhibition and the influential scholarship of Sylvia Wynter.
“No Humans Involved challenges us to consider Sylvia Wynter’s important essay anew, questioning what it means to be human and whose humanity is denied and/or acknowledged through the work of seven visionary artists and collectives,” said Ann Philbin, Hammer Museum director. “Supporting the work of practitioners who produce new knowledge and articulate the complexity of our world is a defining characteristic of Hammer exhibitions, and the artists featured in No Humans Involved do just that.”
“At its core, No Humans Involved is an exhibition that offers insight into a future humanism that breaches our current embodiment of ‘Man,’ which is fraught with identity constructs that continue to oppress people of color and uphold Western imperialism,” Christovale said.
“No Humans Involved” (often abbreviated as NHI) refers to an internal code that was used by the Los Angeles Police Department, usually in relation to cases that disproportionately involved Black and brown Angelenos who were often identified as sex workers, gang members or drug traffickers. The code became public knowledge in 1992, shortly after the trial and ultimate acquittal of the four police officers charged with the use of excessive force in the brutal beating of Rodney King. In her open letter, written to her colleagues as a call to action, Wynter argues that academia is partly to blame for this horrific event and its aftermath, which forever changed the cultural and social landscape of Los Angeles, because academic institutions uphold and disseminate problematic constructs of race, gender, class, sexuality, and other categories that continue to overdetermine lived experience and justify or deny humanity.
Read the full news release about “No Humans Involved” (PDF) on the Hammer Museum’s website.