People, Places, Things

"The Black Box Experience" explores questions of reparations and healing

Mason Biggers (left image), Kiara Walls (right image).

The Black Box Experience series by artist Kiara Walls is a site of intention and exploration, providing a dedicated space for audiences to reflect on the complexities and intersections of Black identity, experience, and community. While seated on the billowing pink benches of the box’s interior, participants are invited to record their responses to various prompts and, in Walls’s words, “[step] into an experience other than their own.”

Walls writes: “I set out to start and continue the conversation around reparations and repair to address the injuries inflicted on the Black community. Through youth-focused education, conversations, and co-constructing workshops, The Black Box Experience explores the question of ‘What would reparations look like today?’”

In June 2023, the fourth installment of the series, titled “Sovereignty,” appeared at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University. Previous versions were sited in Los Angeles and Dallas. “With each site-specific installation,” Walls writes, “the content gradually shifts to represent the process of the audience’s understanding as well as my own as it relates to the question of reparations. I’ve uncovered, through collecting conversational data and self-reflection, that the path forward invites healing and, ultimately, Black sovereignty.”


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