Beautiful Words Are Subversive // Black Chalk & Co.

Central Library

Beautiful Words Are Subversive is an exploration of language, readings and inscribed meanings, with a focus on Zimbabwean and African diasporic literatures, curated by Black Chalk & Co.. Founded in 2015, Black Chalk & Co. is a boutique creative agency, which brings together writers, artists, designers, academics, and technologists to engender a new culture and new forms of publishing and creative production.

Combining print, audio-visual content and performance, the Beautiful Words Are Subversive exhibition will be distributed throughout Central Library. The works will interact with other voices and traditions, exposing library-goers to cultures and experiences from the margins. At the same time, it challenges established hierarchies of information and institutional habits. Much of Black Chalk & Co.’s preoccupations grow out of an impulse to reanimate the archive, engage reference materials, primary sources and use community knowledge as vehicles for creative output. The exhibition creates a visual map of language, identity and immigrant narratives. It evokes sound and its relationship to words, reading, and the library.

The presentation at the Brooklyn Public Library is a site-specific re-imagining of a smaller exhibition that Black Chalk & Co. first developed at Virginia Commonwealth Univerity's Arts Research Institute in Richmond, Virginia, that will interact with Brooklyn Public Library’s catalog and holdings.

The exhibition will function as a platform for publishing, discussion, and visual presentation. It imagines new forms, genres, and approaches. The work responds to scant or destroyed archives by drawing on a diverse, eclectic range of sources. Moving through the library learning to interpret gaps in the archive; working between and across disciplines; and reading beneath the story that’s told for the untold story. Beautiful Words mines political histories to re-engage literature, conduct research and offer a new historiography of the present.


November 3rd Classical Interludes: Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa: A Chamber Recital of “The Dawn of the Rooster” (Click Link to Register) 

November 21st  Film Screening and Book Launch by Black Chalk & Co., with Special Guests (Click Link to Register)


Learn more about Black Chalk & Co. and their project, Reading Zimbabwe.

Curators: Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Nontsikelelo Mutiti (Black Chalk & Co.)
Organized by Cora Fisher, BPL Curator of Visual Arts Programming.

To return to the Exhibitions Index page, please click here.


Beautiful Words Are Subversive is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.