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Engaging the work of artists Tony Kushner, Glenn Ligon, and Wilmer Wilson IV, chapter 1 explores contemporary artistic manifestations of The Narrative in the Life of Henry “Box” Brown. The chapter argues that, while all three artists attempt to link Brown’s story of individual escape to ideas of the collective, Ligon and Wilson replace the demand for Brown’s constant mobility in the archive with an option for rest and reprieve in the artistic interval. The chapter explores the archival work of the escape and its circulation in the present by engaging Tony Kushner’s The Henry Box Brown Play; Glenn Ligon’s To Disembark, Narratives, and Runaways; and Wilmer Wilson IV’s Henry Box Brown Forever.

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