From September 2018 through November 2019, SFAI brings together 70 artists, creative practitioners, content experts, and innovative thinkers from all over the world to explore how uncovering and acknowledging the truth can be used as a means of reconciliation.
SFAI believes that the process of truth-seeking and reconciliation are deeply creative acts that can bring individuals, communities, and nations together and heal our divisions to build a better world. In the open call for applications for the Truth & Reconciliation Thematic Residency, we sought out creative projects, conversations, and processes by which the investigation of truth and steps toward meaningful reconciliation can occur. We also sought to broaden the residency experience and increase collective knowledge by bringing together artists from all disciplines alongside other innovators in disciplines such as architecture, planning, policy, education, science, health, law, and activism.
Through our Truth & Reconciliation Theme, we ask:
How can artistic expression help to counter the often dehumanizing effects of our intensifying societal polarization by confronting misleading or deceptive rhetoric with truthfulness and compassion?
How can a creative and humane investigation of truth among individuals, communities, and nations engender desire for healing, reconciliation, and how can new narratives respond to traumatic events and culturally sanctioned injustices?
How can art and community action bring into view a more comprehensive and critical understanding of truth amidst the proliferation of online, and often unchecked, communication platforms and algorithmic manipulation of information streams?
SFAI believes truth in service of reconciliation can be a powerful way to better understand the histories of colonization, imperialism, global capitalism, and racism, and can help to heal the personal, cultural, and national traumas enmeshed in these histories.
In the global context, perhaps the most familiar example of Truth and Reconciliation is South Africa’s process of healing after generations of apartheid. Other international examples include Canada’s process to reconcile with the generational trauma caused by the residential school system for Aboriginal children, and the work of international courts to address the crimes of brutal regimes in places like Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Peru, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Congo, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Fiji, and East Timor.
At the national level, the United States government has engaged in outright genocide and oppression of various non-European cultures beginning with the enslavement of African peoples and forced resettlement and assimilation policies toward Native Americans. The United States has not initiated a national level Truth & Reconciliation commission; however, there are regional, community initiated commissions such as the Greensboro, North Carolina process to “constructively engage the confusion, division and bitter feelings“ that the Greensboro Massacre of 1979 engendered in the community. More recently, in 2016, the Kellogg Foundation launched “Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation,” a national process that will engage 14 select communities across the country to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism and “jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism.”
In Santa Fe, throughout New Mexico, and in the greater Southwest region there have been several waves of colonization of indigenous lands and peoples by other nations including Spain, Mexico, and the United States. There are many sides to this complex history, which is further complicated by laws, policies, monuments, and sanctioned traditions that have served to frame particular narratives and allocate power and resources in ways which further divide people and communities.
Memorials, museums, news media, technology, and social media all play a significant role in helping to construct or reinforce our community narratives as they all have the potential to either reveal or obstruct the truth, to bring together or to further divide individuals and communities. Through the 2018-19 theme, we ask SFAI residents to lead the way to honoring the truth and reconciling for the future through their creativity, courage, and artistic expression.