The Ostracon: Dispatches from Beyond Contemporary Art’s Center, an arts writing site by Nicole J. Caruth and Paul Schmelzer, looks at figures and ideas outside the mainstream of contemporary art—from public policy, indigenous rights, and folklore to community organizing, historic preservation, environmental science, journalism, and food justice—that may offer insight into new forms of making art that are more responsive, relevant, and connected to the way we live now as individuals and communities. Taking its name from the pottery shards used in ancient Athens when voting to ostracize community members, the site aims to celebrate, instead of push out, voices from art’s periphery.

How on earth will we build a whole new world?

Leah Penniman, the co-founder of Soul Fire Farm and author of Farming While Black, talks about healing from generations of land-based trauma and creating a more just food system.

Leah Penniman. All images courtesy of Soul Fire Farm except where noted.

Black Birth Matters

Documentary film and photography—from George Stoney’s All My Babies (1953) to LaToya Ruby Frazier’s 2018 photography series for the New York Times—have played a critical role in efforts to humanize Black maternal and infant mortality statistics.

“Simone Landrum holding her newborn son Baby Kingston” © LaToya Ruby Frazier. Courtesy the Artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome