BLT roundtable sessions provide both physical space and focused time for interdisciplinary and intergenerational discussions, bringing together a diversity of community members and fostering candid conversation. Our primary aim is the production of discursive sites, wherein cultural producers can engage in critical dialogue on topics directly affecting our global community.
At the Artists Roundtable, our founding initiative, we curate Black cultural producers into roundtable discussions. Providing space to discuss critical issues strengthens the bonds within our nebulous community and validates shared concerns through exchange. By generating a dialogue among Black artists, in partnership with arts institutions, we are highlighting contingencies in the artworld already in play. By involving institutions, artists, art historians, curators, collectors in this dialogue we are creating a work in which all these actors have both a say and something at stake. Writing the record is everyone’s charge.
We sit together because we share common backgrounds, face common challenges, and have a vested interest in our communal well-being. We also gather because there is an expectation of separation, both internally and externally from those excluded from the table, who we perhaps have also felt excluded by. As conspicuously Othered people, both founding artists have participated in the Black lunch table phenomenon at various times in their lives and self-consciously chose to sit or not to sit with their like-skinned classmates or colleagues. In the art world and in other professional and academic circles, such self-segregating exists in varying degrees of visibility, and with varying degrees of endorsement from within these groups. Black Lunch Table, taking the lunchroom phenomenon as its starting point, seeks to reify the visibility of connections and conversations that exist between contemporary artists of color.