A letter from Giovanna Borasi

A few weeks ago, we decided to pause all public online activity to instead listen to the voices rising against racial injustices and discuss our own responsibility in addressing discrimination. Black lives matter, and it is urgent to put an end to the systemic oppression suffered by Black communities.

We continue to witness wide-reaching reactions from individuals and institutions throughout the world, while new events in the last few days—including violence against Indigenous peoples in Canada—reveal both the pervasiveness of racism and the transformative power of collective action. Many cultural institutions are taking a position and we believe that, only by addressing these urgent problems, will we come out reinforced in our purpose and priorities.

At the CCA, we are tackling this urgency at all dimensions of the organization, and we begin by addressing our responsibility in building a discourse that has not adequately confronted the questions about race and justice we are all asking today. Even if we have always aspired to align our programs with the principles of ethics and equity, we must and will engage more directly with the ways in which architecture sustains systemic inequalities and racism in North America and around the world.

As a research institution whose work is grounded in an extensive collection that informs the research of others, we must shed light on how centuries of colonialism, nationalism, and economic and racial prejudices shape what is studied, acknowledged, and spoken. This requires further complexifying our collection and addressing the paucity of non-white and non-Western stories in order to create spaces and resources for underrepresented voices both historical and contemporary.

Architecture has always been an expression of power, but the last decades are also revealing the growing power of community action and bottom-up initiatives, particularly with regard to environmental issues. Our curatorial work and our public programs have been increasingly driven by the study of these power relationships and of how the built environment contributes to social transformation. Today, we commit to expanding these platforms so that they multiply points of view and perspectives on inequality, better deconstruct the apparent normality of the world around us, and more broadly disseminate opportunities opened by moments of change.

These are essential concerns for the CCA that will also require developing tools to measure our actions and to evaluate their impact, both on the internal structure of our institution and on the ideas we promote. We will dedicate our energy and resources to the work ahead of us: we need to learn, to listen, to research, to understand, to advance, and to open.


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