Into the Deluge is a semester-long series of events at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts that considers bodies of water as archives of memory, sites of history, and forms of knowledge. What would it mean to organize notions of self and society not around land, territory, and nation, but around the oceanic, the fluvial, the aquatic? Through lectures, artist talks, discussions, and an exhibition, we turn to water as an urgent mode of critical inquiry and artistic practice. The program draws on scholar Paul Gilroy’s notion of “offshore humanism” as we look to oceans, rivers, and seas in an effort to rethink political subjectivity during our time of racial reckoning and climate emergency.
The series includes an exhibition in Wesleyan’s Zilkha South Gallery of artist Ellie Ga’s Gyres, first shown at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, which considers circuits of movement and exchange across the Mediterranean. It continues with a series of virtual events taking place over the course of Spring 2021, including talks by Ellie Ga; art historian T.J. Demos, author of Beyond the World's End: Arts of Living at the Crossing (2020), and Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (2016), among other works; artist Carolina Caycedo, whose work on Indigenous relationships to waterways in Colombia is the subject of a current retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; M. NourbeSe Philip, award-winning poet, writer, and lawyer, and author of the book Zong!, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2007, rewrites the legal archive as it relates to the history of the transatlantic slave trade; and filmmaker Mati Diop, whose film Atlantics won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and whose films have screened at the Venice Film Festival, Viennale, and International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Into the Deluge is organized by John Hulsey, Andrew W. Mellon Postgraduate Research Fellow in Interdisciplinary Arts Practices at Wesleyan University and hosted at the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University. Generous sponsorship has been provided by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, with co-sponsorship from the Samuel Silipo '85 Distinguished Visitor's Fund of the Department of Art and Art History, the Office of Academic Affairs and Office of the Dean, Writing at Wesleyan, The College of Film and the Moving Image, The Department of African American Studies and The Center for African American Studies, The Department of American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Wesleyan University Press. Special thanks to Ben Chaffee and the entire staff of the Center for the Arts.