Brooklyn-based artist Taja Lindley’s work, This Ain’t a Eulogy: A Ritual for Re-Membering (2017), arose out of a conversation with a group of young women from the Lower East Side with whom she worked with as part of the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the decisions to not charge the police officers involved. It features a wall of black plastic garbage bags, with over 200 of them bearing the handwritten names of the unarmed black men and women killed in police-involved shootings since 1999.
Showing at Fair., she said, skirted “awkward” questions about the ethics of selling the piece, which came up when she showed it in a commercial setting at the Spring/Break Art Show during Armory Week in New York.
“I really appreciate being a part of a show, during a very commercial time, and to be able to show work that’s not up for sale,” Lindley said. “This isn’t going in someone’s private collection. And honestly I don’t know how I feel about parting with the names…because [it’s] my labor, my hands—I sat with people’s stories as I painted them.”
Lindley added that participating in an all-women fair reinforced the context of her work, rooted in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which she noted is largely led by black women.
“I see my work as part of a long legacy of a black feminist practice for racial justice,” she said. “While it's not directly addressed in the piece, This Ain’t A Eulogy is made possible” thanks to the labor of these women, she said.