May 27–August 06, 2022
Marwa Arsanios, Carolina Caycedo, Tomashi Jackson, Skawennati
Gallery 400, University of Illinois Chicago

A Species of Theft foregrounds the ways artists working with video have explored contested relationships to land through innovative narrative strategies. As a resource, land establishes all sorts of personal and political connections related to belonging somewhere. Its theft and rendering as an object for control have shaped settler-colonial societies and what their conceptions of race and identity are.

The exhibition centers on dispossession—the loss of possession, namely land or personhood—as an entry point for understanding how property ownership is generated. It’s informed by complex historical understandings of displacement, immigration, labor, and alienation between North America, Britain, and Kurdistan. A Species of Theft lends its title from theorist Robert Nichols’s book Theft Is Property!, in which he contends that dispossession is a form of theft—a recursive one dependent on law and race in order to produce and pave the way for property.

The featured artists converse with Nichols’ theory and are concerned with issues regarding citizenship, nation-building, and self-governance. They employ video as a means for recognizing futurity, eco-feminist practices, and sovereignty with an emphasis on editing techniques and narrative structures that expand on mediated experiences across varying landscapes.