Monthly Archives: August 2011

New Provincialisms: Curating Art of the African Diaspora

La Fantasie Art Project (by caribbeanfreephoto via flickr)

New Provincialisms: Curating Art of the African Diaspora by Leon Wainwright is now available to read in full at the Black Atlantic Resource:

Over the past decade there have been various curatorial attempts to assemble and understand the art of the African diaspora and to offer a more global sense of the histories from which such works emerge. The diaspora concept once promised fresh possibilities for imagining community beyond the nation; however, its internationalist emphasis has given way to a provincializing attitude grounded in United States – centered experiences.

When art exhibitions are designed to mobilize the African diaspora and to reverse its traditional exclusion from art history and public memory, it is less clear whether such designs also prove capable of reversing the direction of this new provincialism. And yet, while the otherwise international relevance of the diaspora analytic has become susceptible to political and social priorities with a locus in the United States, much can be gained from interrogating the ways in which this locus generates new “margins” and “centers” in the world of art and blackness.

To view the full article at the Black Atlantic Resource now click here.

[First published in Radical History Review, Issue 103 (Winter 2009) pp. 203-213: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1215/01636545-2008-041]

White Anglo-Saxon Hopes and Black Americans’ Atlantic Dreams

White Anglo-Saxon Hopes and Black Americans’ Atlantic Dreams: Jack Johnson and the British Boxing Colour Bar by Theresa Runstedtler.

This article examines the controversy surrounding Jack Johnson’s proposed world heavyweight title fight against the British champion Bombardier Billy Wells in London (1911). In juxtaposing African Americans’ often glowing discussions of European tolerance with the actual white resistance the black champion faced in Britain, including the Home Office’s eventual prohibition of the match, the article explores the period’s transnational discourses of race and citizenship. Indeed, as white sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic joined together in their search for a “White Hope” to unseat Johnson, the boxing ring became an important cultural arena for interracial debates over the political and social divisions between white citizens and nonwhite subjects.

Although African Americans had high hopes for their hero’s European sojourn, the British backlash against the Johnson-Wells match underscored the fact that their local experiences of racial oppression were just one facet of a much broader global problem. At the same time, the proposed prizefight also made the specter of interracial conflict in the colonies all the more tangible in the British capital, provoking public discussions about the merits of U.S. racial segregation, along with the need for white Anglo-Saxon solidarity around the world. Thus, this article not only exposes the underlying connections between American Jim Crow and the racialized fault lines of British imperialism, but it also traces the “tense and tender ties” linking U.S. and African American history with the new imperial history and postcolonial studies.

Read the full article at Project Muse

(Journal of World History, Volume 21, Number 4, December 2010, pp. 657-689)

El Anatsui at the Clark Institute

Delta (2010) found aluminum and copper wire, Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY

Ghanian artist El Anatsui is the second ever contemporary artist featured in a solo exhibition organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The sculptor El Anatsui, born in Ghana in 1944, merges personal, local, and global concerns in his visual creations. Weaving together discarded aluminum tops from Nigerian liquor bottles, Anatsui creates large-scale sculptures called gawu (“metal” or “fashioned cloth” in the artist’s first language) that demonstrate a fascinating interplay of color, shape, and fluidity.

The exhibition takes place from 12 June 2011 – 16 October 2011.

For more information click here

Special exhibition Microsite

Toxteth 1981

(Via liverpoolmuseums.org)

A community exhibition to mark the 30th anniversary in July 2011 of the riots in Liverpool 8. A timely exhibition which features the memories and photographs of local people who were affected by Liverpool’s riots in the 1980s. The exhibtion includes previously unseen materials.

At the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool: 1 July 2011 – 1 July 2012.

For more information click here

Living Apart: photographs of apartheid by Ian Berry

(c) Ian Berry/ Magnum Photos (detail via liverpoolmuseums.org)

A powerful touring exhibition from Magnum Photos of some of the most dramatic and iconic moments over 40 years of South Africa’s history, captured by photojournalist Ian Berry. This exhibition is part of Liverpool’s first ever international photography festival, Look11.

At the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool: 8 April 2011 to 6 November 2011.

For more information click here

Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley

The Benue River Valley is the source of some of the most abstract, dramatic, and inventive sculpture in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet  the many and diverse groups flanking the 650-mile-long Benue River—and their fascinating arts—are little known and studied.

The exhibition will be at the Fowler Museum at UCLA February 13 – July 24, 2011 and will then travel to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, and the Musée du quai Branly, Paris.

For more information and related resources click here

UCLA Newsroom release

Review from ARTINFO

’42’ Women of Sierra Leone

(c) Karen Lee Stow (detail of photo)

The exhibition ’42’ Women of Sierra Leone presents 42 portraits of the women of Sierra Leone, by British photojournalist and writer Lee Karen Stow. This exhibition is part of Liverpool’s first ever international photography festival, Look11.

At the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool: From 4 March 2011 – 5 April 2012

For more information click here

Glenn Ligon: America

The Exhibition Glenn Ligon: America is the first comprehensive mid-career retrospective devoted to this pioneering New York–based artist. At the Whitney Museum of American Art March 10–June 5, 2011.

The exhibition travels to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the fall of 2011 and to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in early 2012.

Reviews at: The New Yorker Timed Out New York Hyperallergic

New Publication: The Anatomy of Blackness

The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment (The John Hopkins University Press) by Andrew S. Curran

This volume examines the Enlightenment-era textualization of the Black African in European thought. Andrew S. Curran rewrites the history of blackness by replicating the practices of eighteenth-century readers. Surveying French and European travelogues, natural histories, works of anatomy, pro- and anti-slavery tracts, philosophical treatises, and literary texts, Curran shows how naturalists and philosophes drew from travel literature to discuss the perceived problem of human blackness within the nascent human sciences, describes how a number of now-forgotten anatomists revolutionized the era’s understanding of black Africans, and charts the shift of the slavery debate from the moral, mercantile, and theological realms toward that of the “black body” itself. In tracing this evolution, he shows how blackness changed from a mere descriptor in earlier periods into a thing to be measured, dissected, handled, and often brutalized.

Andrew S. Curran is a professor of French at Wesleyan University and a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine in the history of medicine. He is the author of Sublime Disorder: Physical Monstrosity in Diderot’s Universe.

Timed Out: Art and the transnational Caribbean

Timed out: Art and the Transnational Caribbean (Rethinking Art’s Histories) is a new book (Manchester University Press, 2011) by Leon Wainwright.

‘Timed out’ is a pioneering study of modern and contemporary art in the aftermath of empire. It addresses the current ‘global turn’ in the study of art by way of the transnational Caribbean, offering an in-depth account of the Atlantic world in relation to the mainstream history of art. It looks at why art of the Anglophone Caribbean and its diaspora have been placed not only ‘outside’ but ‘behind’ the dominant art canons, and how the politics of space and time can be used to rethink the global geography of art.

‘Timed out’ will appeal to all those working in the field of modern and contemporary art and world art history, transnationalism and the geography of global visual culture. To read more click here…

Leon Wainwright is Lecturer in Art History at the Open University. Click here to find out more about the author and selected earlier publications.