Writing in The New Yorker in 1962, James Baldwin asked readers to put themselves in the skin of a black American soldier fighting in segregated units during World War II—a man “who watches German prisoners of war being treated by Americans with more human dignity than he has ever received at their hands. And who, at the same time, as a human being, is far freer in a strange land than he has ever been at home. Home! The very word begins to have a despairing and diabolical ring.”

This winter issue of ART PAPERS considers what happens to the notion of “Home” when it is dislodged from the simplicity, comfort, and familiarity implied on all the novelty pillows embroidered with platitudes about how home is “sweet,” or “where the heart is.” In the United States, in 2016, “home” is a place you might be told to leave (or, to “go back to”). If you are in Michigan, or in North Dakota, you might be told you can’t drink the water at home, and if you are in almost any American city center, you’re likely to be told you can’t afford to live there anymore. Across the Atlantic, young British people have been told they’re not at home in Europe anymore; their immigrant compatriots have been told they’re not at home on British soil. From the Caribbean to the Carolinas, extreme weather has called for homes to be evacuated; war continues to send refugees in search of any alternative to the dangers of home, however perilous the journey, or however hostile the welcome.

In the pages that follow, radical performer Abdu Mongo Ali considers the disparities facing the black art community in his hometown, Baltimore—and speaks to other practicing artists there about why they have stayed, despite the divide. Students participating in a new curatorial studies program at the historically black Spelman College—the first of its kind, aimed at directly addressing the nationwide lack of diversity in curatorial and museum leadership positions—have mined two Atlanta collections to create a hypothetical exhibition proposal of works that contend with representations of domesticity, family, gender roles in the home, and the home’s role in the formation and politics of identity. Four artist projects by young Atlanta photographers consider The Last Mile—an idea taken from transportation planning, where it refers to the distance between the end of the (train/bus) line, and the doorway to home, explored in these images as a landscape of uncertainty, and of change.

If “home” is defined as a place to begin life and, to some, to wait out its end, then Svalbard, the Arctic archipelago explored in our cover dossier, “Geopolitics on the Edge,” is home to none: its pregnant women go to the Norwegian mainland to give birth, and its “no death” policy mandates that bodies return to the mainland to be buried there, as well. That disorienting premise echoes a cliché taken from Thomas Wolfe’s title for his 1947 disquisition on the fragile illusion of American prosperity, and the parallel rise of European fascism: You Can’t Go Home Again.

Baldwin asked his readers to imagine the impossibility of a WWII soldier’s return home to America—to “consider what happens to this citizen, after all he has endured, when he returns—home: search, in his shoes, for a job, for a place to live; ride, in his skin, on segregated buses…. And all this is happening in the richest and freest country in the world, and in the middle of the twentieth century.” It has been three days since the results of the 2016 US presidential election were announced. Some might say the unsavory home to which America might now return is that described by Baldwin above; the chilling fact we must confront, however, is that we never left that place of hate behind at all.

Victoria Camblin


This issue concludes ART PAPERS’ 40th year in print, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported us leading up to this anniversary, and who feted it with us this fall. As we move into 2017, we commit to providing and expanding a platform—a welcoming discursive home—to artists, writers, and thinkers who have been underserved or marginalized, to individuals whose work is politically, socially, and intellectually engaged in the service of dialogue, education, and critical thought, and who are committed, as we are, to freedom of expression, to the daily celebration of cultural diversity, and to the preservation of human