Reimagining Histories, Shaping Futures
Featured Collection

Reimagining Histories, Shaping Futures

At a moment of rapid economic decline and demographic change in Brooklyn, the impresario Harvey Lichtenstein took over the leadership of BAM in 1967. Through a series of ambitious and bold programming choices, he worked toward making BAM a destination not only for Manhattanites, but international audiences as well. This narrative is known and rightly celebrated. But how did BAM, during its period of transformation in the latter years of the twentieth century, relate to Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods – particularly its Black communities? Can an honest portrait of a BAM that is inextricably grounded in its Brooklyn location help us to think differently about the possibilities for its orientation to its surroundings in the present and the future? From the vantage point of the 2020s, can it help us to reimagine BAM’s role as a cultural touchstone and space of care?

Developed during a yearlong research fellowship in BAM’s archives, this collection looks to the gaps and edges of BAM’s archive to uncover underrepresented voices and narratives – points of rupture that push back against its abiding institutional narrative. It contrasts moments of connection with moments of tension, conflict and contradiction that emerge from the archive. By no means a comprehensive account, it is intended as an invitation – a trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak – for further exploration and research.

(This collection draws on a variety of external sources, a list of which can be found here. To inspire and orient the reader, an annotated bibliography of theoretical approaches to the archive can be found here.)

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