Talk: Surveillance and Black Activism

plus Cal

$15 Full / $10 Member / $8 Student

  • Edlis Neeson Theater
    First Floor, Accessible via the Griffin Entrance on Pearson Street
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Featured images

Jamal Cyrus , Cultr-Ops, 2008/2015. Graphite powder on paper. Framed: 79 9/16 × 63 1/8 in. (202.1 × 160.3 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Marilyn and Larry Fields in honor of Naomi Beckwith, 2018.32
Courtesy of Inman Gallery, Houston, Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago
Stan Douglas, Evening, 1994. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Frances and Thomas Dittmer; and Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund. © Stan Douglas. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner


In 2017, a leaked FBI report identified “Black Identity Extremists” as a security threat, indicating an uptick in surveillance of black activist organizations. In relationship to the exhibition Direct Message: Art, Language, and Power, a group of artists and activists consider the state of contemporary activism and public speech, as well as the implications of government surveillance.

The panel includes artist Jamal Cyrus, activist Brandi Collins-Dexter of Color Of Change, and Nusrat J. Choudhury, Deputy Director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, and is moderated by exhibition curator Grace Deveney.

MCA Talks highlight cutting-edge thinking and contemporary art practices across disciplines and are organized by Curator January Parkos Arnall and Assistant Curator Christy LeMaster, with the Performance and Public Practice team.


This program is made possible by the Gloria Brackstone Solow and Eugene A. Solow, MD, Memorial Lecture Series.