Christopher Paul Jordan and Arnaldo James: In the Interim (Ritual Ground for a Future Black Archive)

February 5 – May 15, 2022

As we witness the exponential escalation of inequity bringing our world to the economic and environmental brink of collapse, I am persuaded that although we may not prevent the end of the world, we can be seed bankers for a new beginning. I see Black oral tradition as a form of seed banking with the power to germinate additional worlds, regenerative ecosystems, reciprocal economies.

—Christopher Paul Jordan

Building upon an ongoing dialogue between two artists of the African diaspora—Christopher Paul Jordan from the United States and Arnaldo James from Trinidad and Tobago—In the Interim is an offering to the Black community of the Seattle metropolitan area and of the wider diasporic world, as well as to the general public. Jordan and James’s collaborations are unified by a vision to create, exchange, witness, and support Black creative communities across the diaspora, in opposition to the colonialist structures dividing them.

Continuing this work, In the Interim is a speculative project dedicated to the production of Black public space, the preservation of Black oral tradition, and the facilitation of intergenerational dialogue among people of African descent. The exhibition centers on a soundproof recording booth called The Interim, which will be accessible only to self-identified Black individuals. Participants are invited to record their predictions and prophecies for the future, which will be compiled on a hard drive and stored in a time capsule. Envisioned as a metaphorical seed bank, the time capsule will be buried on the museum’s grounds and recovered one hundred years thereafter, the stories within made public at last. Reservations to make recordings in The Interim will be available on the Frye’s website in advance of the exhibition’s opening date.

The exhibition’s additional components are envisioned as a call and response between Jordan’s work, a new series of paintings on windows salvaged from historically Black neighborhoods in Tacoma, and James’s, a collection of photographs based on new interpretations of Carnival performance archetypes. Each body of work is singular and represents the cultural influences specific to each artist, but they are united by themes of inversion and immersion, as well as the shared desire to bridge the spatial and temporal distances of the diasporic world. James is also planning a performance following the Carnival tradition in his hometown of Port of Spain that will provide a ritual ground for the objects in the exhibition, including a ceremonial activation of the The Interim time capsule.

Conceived during the Black Lives Matter era but before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked further havoc on Black communities, In the Interim functions as a restorative proposition, at a time when identity politics, far from belonging in the past, need reimagining for and in the future.

Arnaldo James (born 1987, Port of Spain) works towards equity and prosperity, honoring the ingenuity and resilience of Black peoples in a world structure actively pursuing their exploitation. A graduate of the University of the West Indies and Cardiff Metropolitan University, James is a photographer, curator, graphic designer, and educator from Trinidad and Tobago. James’s photographic works have been exhibited within and outside the Caribbean. In 2017, James and Jordan brought a version of the Tacoma exhibition #COLORED2017 to Arima, Trinidad, renaming it Mission Black Satellite.

Christopher Paul Jordan (born 1990, Tacoma) integrates virtual and physical public space to form infrastructures for dialogue and self-determination in displaced communities. In collaboration with Tacoma Action Collective, Jordan launched the #StopErasingBlackPeople campaign combatting the erasure of African Americans from the history of the AIDS epidemic in the US. His sculpture andimgonnamisseverybody (2021) is a centerpiece for The AIDS Memorial Pathway, Seattle. Jordan’s awards and fellowships include the Artist Trust Fellowship, the Neddy Artist Award in painting, the Jon Imber Fellowship, and the GTCF Foundation of Art Award.

James and Jordan collaboratively received the 2017 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award, which is funded by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. The award supports and advances the creative work of outstanding artists living and working in Washington State and is accompanied by a presentation at the Frye Art Museum.

Claire Tancons is a curator, writer, and researcher invested in the postcolonial politics of art production and exhibition. She publishes for and speaks at artistic and academic venues, as well as teaches; she is the inaugural Mellon Global Curatorial Professor at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and a Visiting Professor for the Curatorial Workshop at the School of Visual Art. Notable curatorial projects include the traveling exhibition EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean (2015-2018), Tide by Side, Faena Forum, Miami Beach (2016), and etcetera: a civic ritual, Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse (2017). Based in Paris, Tancons has curated for numerous biennials including those in Bénin (2012), Gothenburg (2013), and Sharjah (2017-19).

Christopher Paul Jordan and Arnaldo James: In the Interim (Ritual Ground for a Future Black Archive) is guest curated by Claire Tancons, a curator, writer, and researcher invested in the postcolonial politics of art production and exhibition. Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. Additional generous support is provided by the Frye Foundation and Frye Members.

Christopher Paul Jordan. Untitled (Study), 2021. Acrylic on debris netting, wooden window frame. 42 x 54 ½ in. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Estelle Maisonett

Christopher Paul Jordan. Untitled (Study), 2021. Acrylic on debris netting, wooden window frame. 42 x 54 ½ in. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Estelle Maisonett