Durham Artists Movement
Third Friday Opening
Friday, July 15, 6–9 p.m.
111 West Parrish Street, Durham

In June, when we reported on the Carrack Modern Art’s move to Main Street—which took place via parade in July—we learned that the last six months of its Parrish Street lease would be taken over by Durham Artists Movement, a collective seeking safe spaces for people of color, LGBTQ people, and others who might feel marginalized in a gallery world where the white cube is symbolic, not just aesthetic.

Tonight, DAM is opening its new space to the public for the first time. It’s the collective’s first centralized location since its thirty-odd members started banding together several years ago. We stopped by yesterday for a sneak preview of the show, in which pictures dealing with identity, brutality, racism, and gender start blaring alarms from the wall before you even reach the stairs.

We see such pictures in gallery shows from time to time, but there is something markedly direct and disarming about the stark presentation of these works. The exhibit has no title. There are no wall texts or monographs, though there is a beautiful art book by Catherine Edgerton. The pictures hang in a frank eye-level ring around the weathered brick walls. One is struck by an urgency often missing in the obscure climes of fine art: a will to be heard and understood.

“It’s a tricky thing, because in some ways, the art world is seen as being progressive, but you see Black Lives Matter and other radical issues being capitalized on,” says Saba Taj, one of the people who has driven the fundraising efforts for the DAM artists to pay the lease. “On the one hand, that’s great you’re bringing something into a visible sphere. But it’s being taken out of the hands of the people who are most affected by it and placed into that white cube. Something changes.”

The difference with DAM, Taj explains, is that “that community is what’s making this happen. You know whose hands put that art up.”

There are to be performances during the opening event from six to nine tonight. See what DAM is all about before diving deeper into its perspectives and goals in our full Q-and-A with Taj in next week’s issue.