A businessperson waits for a delayed subway. A wrongly convicted prisoner awaits justice. A refugee waits for their asylum case. A nation waits for the promised boon of economic development. The world waits for a vaccine. Nature waits for its exploitation to end.

Waiting is usually what we do between things. It is the space between two destinations, an empty and anxious time to fill with distractions. But when we look more closely, we see that waiting is also an activity in itself, bristling with energy, uncertainty, and inequality. What does the condition of waiting reveal about us, our world, and the natural environment that sustains it?

This series of eight sessions offer glimpses into the thought and practices of artists, architects, historians, and theorists who grapple with this question. In each hour-long session, participants will share their own research into an aspect of waiting while touching on some of its registers: enforced waiting, chronic waiting, natural waiting, existential waiting, and even those desirable modes of waiting that we long for. A brief moderated discussion and audience Q&A will follow.

These events, and the resulting publication, Shifter 25: Waiting, are co-hosted by MIT List Visual Arts Center and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati in conjunction with solo exhibitions by Sreshta Rit Premnath to be held in March 2021 (MIT List) and October 2021 (CAC).

Shifter Sessions


Sandrine Canac & Felipe Steinberg

Oct 22, 2020, 5:30–6:30 pm

Sandrine Canac will offer a fictionalized conversation that takes place in postcolonial theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “waiting room” of history. Felipe Steinberg will share his research into US labor laws and how the state of always being “on-call” is a form of unpaid waiting.

Mustafa Faruki & Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Nov 12, 2020, 5:30–6:30 pm

Mustafa Faruki will discuss his work on the “Celebatorium,” a site of temporal suspension that forecloses futurity. Conversely, Kameelah Janan Rasheed will discuss people who seek immortality – that is, those who desire to wait forever.

Diego Gerard & Margarita Sánchez Urdaneta

Dec 3, 2020, 5:30–6:30 pm

Diego Gerard will use strategies of absurdity and magical realism to discuss the ongoing tragedy of forced disappearances in Mexico in the midst of the drug war. Margarita Sanchez Urdaneta will use the concept of horrorism to consider the terror of waiting for a legal sentence.

Matthew Metzger & Jane Norris

Jan 28, 2021, 5:30–6:30 pm

Matthew Metzger will speak about soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy’s use of pausing in his solo playing, where waiting becomes rhythm and silence is bound up with critique and anticipation. Jane Norris presents recordings of the electronic pulses of plants and asks if they are waiting for our resonances to align or for us to hear them.

Taraneh Fazeli & Jonathan VanDyke

Feb 18, 2021, 5:30–6:30 pm

Taraneh Fazeli will speak about her ongoing research into time as it is encountered and reconsidered by those with chronic illness. Jonathan VanDyke discusses a durational performance in which he stands sentinel outside his parents’ home where he spent innumerable hours beside his ailing father.

Rebecca Comay & Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme

Mar 4, 2021, 5:30-6:30 pm

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme will speak about how they use strategies to counter the perpetual disaster of the present. Rebecca Comay will speak about her research into trauma, memory, and the temporality of human life.


Guadalupe Maravilla spoke about his work on immigration detention, trauma, and healing through sound. Lauren Williams presented her exploration of how Black rage, born of chronic waiting, can be a transformative power.

Kevin Jerome Everson presented his film IFO and discussed how the black oral tradition operates in his work. Nicole Fleetwood discussed her scholarly and curatorial work on the US carceral system’s impact on Black lives and the artwork that emerges from and reflects on it.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Linga
MIT List Visual Arts Center

Jen Cox
Contemporary Arts Center

Marietta Burdick / Delaney Smith
Resnicow and Associates
212-671-5185 / 212-671-5160
mburdick@resnicow.com / dsmith@resnicow.com