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Assistant Curator Georgia Erger shares background information on Ken Gonzales-Day’s Erased Lynchings. The series of works directly implicate the spectator as participant. The artist gathers nineteenth- and twentieth-century postcards depicting lynchings of Latin Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and others, scans them, and then digitally removes the victim and the rope from each image. In doing this he directs our attention to the spectators, who are often pointing or jeering at the (now absented) victim or staring resolutely at the camera. The erasure of the lynched victim paradoxically makes more visible these violent, racist acts, as well as the dynamics of whiteness that systematically erase such historical narratives. The project demands that we examine our own role in such histories. As spectators of these widely and callously circulated images, are we too perpetrating racist violence?

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