Skip to content

Exhibition: Past our duty to fightApr 27–Jun 11, 2016


our duty to fight is a call to join the rebellion being waged. Organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago (BLMChi) and allied movement organizations and projects, this exhibition both holds space for survivors and families bereft of justice and healing under anti-Black state violence and offers a living testament to the specific and shared struggles that have been at the core of radical, visionary world-making in Chicago organizing.

For the exhibition, new artworks by artists Jireh L. Drake, Itunuoluwa Ebijimi, Makeba Kedem-DuBose, La Keisha Leek and Bryant Cross, Zakkiyyah Najeebah, Sherwin Ovid, Ariel Perkins-Fenwick, Shelby Stone, Ethos Viets-VanLear, and Rhonda Wheatley are being created in collaboration with families and survivors waging struggles for accountability and respect for their fallen. Participating are the families of Rekia Boyd, Dakota Bright, Dominique “Damo” Franklin Jr., Justus Howell, Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson, Flint Farmer, Darius Pinex, and Stephon Watts.

Accompanying these works will be artworks and ephemera highlighting the paths to recent intersectional movement victories such as the Level I Adult Trauma Center being developed in Hyde Park and the 2013 Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. Also included is a new digital artwork by artist James T. Green referencing the Movement for Black Lives as made manifest in social media. Moreover, to enable multiple platforms for coming together, the exhibition will include an artist-designed space by Cairá Lee Conner for large and small-scale performances, workshops, and knowledge-sharing.

A series of exhibition programs aim to highlight trending questions and provocations raised by the #BlackLivesMatter movement work: How are we to honor what survivors, families, and communities have lost—and what expectations for protection and representation they have abandoned—to envision and bring about grief, safety, and healing? How do we transform violence and oppression into self-defense and community autonomy? How do we envision a reality where Black Lives not only matter but are liberated? our duty to fight spurs dialogue and action toward realizing liberation, abolishing oppressive systems, and maximizing opportunities to practice justice. Most directly, our duty to fight invites exhibition visitors to join the struggle against state repression and terror while working to build collective power.


Jireh L. Drake, Itunuoluwa Ebijimi, Makeba Kedem-DuBose, La Keisha Leek and Bryant Cross, Zakkiyyah Najeebah, Sherwin Ovid, Ariel Perkins-Fenwick, Shelby Stone, Ethos Viets-VanLear, and Rhonda Wheatley.


Major support for our duty to fight is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the School of Art & Art History, the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. The Daryl Gerber Stokols and Jeff Stokols Voices Series Fund provides general support to Gallery 400.