Tonight at MoMA: Updating Wikipedia’s Archive of Contemporary Black Artists

by Michael Anthony Farley on July 13, 2015 Events

BLT screenshot

A small sampling of the suggested pages to add or update on BLT’s Wikipedia meetup page. Names in red indicate black artists who haven’t been added to Wikipedia yet.

Last week, I googled Meleko Mokgosi to fact-check a review of his show Democratic Intuition at the ICA Boston. I was surprised to find that the artist doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. I did, however, stumble upon a group of New Yorkers working to change that.

The Black Lunch Table (BLT) is hosting its third IRL Wikipedia edit-a-thon today at MoMA from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the purpose of ensuring black artists are included in the archive’s coverage of contemporary art. Anyone can come, even those without prior knowledge of how to update a Wikipedia page.

What Black Lunch Table is doing is an important undertaking. Scrolling through the group’s suggestions of pages to update (indicated in blue text) and pages that need to be created (indicated in red text) it’s apparent that many familiar, important names have thus far been left out of one of the web’s most seemingly comprehensive indexes of knowledge. A quick skim of the list revealed Zoë Charlton (one of the Sondheim Prize finalists), Kori Newkirk, and, yes, Meleko Mokgosi were all listed in red. I was more disturbed by how many more names on the list I didn’t recognize.

From the organizers:

The Black Lunch Table (BLT) is an ongoing collaboration between artists Jina Valentine and Heather Hart which intends to fill holes in the documentation of contemporary art history. In its 10 year existence, the BLT has taken a variety of forms relating to this most recent iteration, in the form of the Wikipedia edit-a-thon. BLT’s aim is the production of discursive sites (at literal and metaphorical lunch tables), wherein cultural producers of color engage in critical dialogue on topics directly affecting our communities. They endeavor to create spaces, online and off, mirroring the activity and creativity present in sites where Blackness and Art are performed.

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