Skip to content

Event: Artist Talk Voices: Aruna D’Souza

A drawing of a middle-aged person standing in front of a painting on the wall. The back of the person’s shirt has the text, “Black Death Spectacle”.
Parker Bright, Confronting My Own Possible Death, mixed media on paper, 19x24 inches, courtesy the artist.


April 10, 2019


6:00–7:00 pm


Gallery 400 Lecture Room


400 S Peoria St
Chicago, IL 60607
Google Map


Is Empathy Enough?

We often hear talk of empathy as a solution to political fragmentation—especially in the art world. Artists, curators, museum educators, and others speak lately of art’s special role in helping to develop the kind of understanding that’s necessary to cross divides of class, race, affiliation, and so on. But what if empathy isn’t enough? What if—even worse—it’s counterproductive? By looking at the example of the 2017 Whitney Biennial protests and their aftermath, we can catch a glimpse of both the value and the limits of fellow feeling when it comes to working towards social justice.

Aruna D’Souza writes about modern and contemporary art; intersectional feminisms and other forms of politics; and how museums shape our views of each other and the world. Her most recent book Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts (Badlands Unlimited) was named one of the best art books of 2018 by the New York Times. Her work appears regularly in, where she is a member of the editorial advisory board and has also been published in The Wall Street Journal,, Art News, Garage, Bookforum, Momus, Art in America, and Art Practical, among other places. She is currently editing two forthcoming volumes, Making It Modern: A Linda Nochlin Reader, and Lorraine O’Grady: Writing in Space 1973-2018.