Tag Archives: Gender

Book Review: Human Zoos

A new review by postgraduate research student Emily Trafford of the University of Liverpool’s School of Histories, Languages and Cultures has been added to the research section of the Black Atlantic Resource, which looks at the 2008 publication Human Zoos.

P. Blanchard, N. Bancel, G. Boёtsch, É. Deroo, S. Lemaire, C. Forsdick (eds), Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empires, 2008 (Liverpool University Press: Liverpool)

This recent collection of essays on the display of human otherness moves beyond the wave of freak show literature of the 1980s and ‘90s, and seeks to provide a more comprehensive overview of this peculiar exhibitionary practice. The display of the exotic Other for entertainment, education, and supposedly the advancement of scientific knowledge, occurred in numerous guises throughout imperial nations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The strength of the volume lies in its scope – in terms of time and place, the historical characters and stories that emerge, and the disciplinary approaches that its contributors utilise – all of which make Human Zoos a valuable resource …read more

If you are interested in contributing a book review to the Black Atlantic Resource please contact us.

Art, genre et dieux: un voyage de recherche a la Ghetto Biennale de Port-au-Prince

I’m happy to announce the addition of some great new resources to the Black Atlantic site relating to Charlotte Hammond‘s exciting new research (Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway) which examines visual representations of transvestism in the Francophone Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Haiti and their diasporic communities in France.

Charlotte recently participated in the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti  2011 and gave a paper titled Art, genre et dieux: un voyage de recherche a la Ghetto Biennale de Port-au-Prince as part of the ‘gender and culture’ seminar series which took place at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, in Martinique. An audio recording of the paper – which was presented in French – is now available to listen to on the Black Atlantic Resource and is accompanied by a transcription of the paper in English, a link to the prezi Charlotte simultaneously presented, and some images of the work Charlotte produced during the Ghetto Biennale.

Art, Gender and Gods: a research trip to the Ghetto Biennale of Port-au-Prince

Within existing Caribbean (mostly fictional) representations, homosexual and trans characters tend to appear in supporting peripheral roles, often to affirm and solidify hegemonic gender binaries. Visibility of gender crossing in popular Caribbean culture, most apparent within the parameters of carnival performance, works in much the same way, more often exhibiting and reflecting dominant ideas of gender, than destabilizing and questioning the boundaries themselves.

There is a part of my project which deals with this more popular expression of transvestism, found in Carnival representation, using the work of a British artist, who like myself hails from the North West of England, Leah Gordon, whose 2008 film, Bounda pa Bounda: A Drag Zaka, depicts drag parody performed within a Rara band tradition in Haiti.

With little at stake, due to the ephemeral and sanctioned nature of what can be seen as harmless gender mimicry, the ease with which such temporary crossover is obtained makes the act a particularly intrusive form of impersonation.  The man, adopting female dress, carelessly forays into the sphere of the Other (the woman), without any concern for ‘realness’ in order to mock that which he does not successfully emulate in what Helen Gilbert terms a “spectacle of not passing” (2003).  As a process of reinscribing and renewing aesthetic standards however, it constitutes an important means of emphasizing prevailing modes of representation….

To Read more of Charlotte’s paper click here

To Listen to the French version of this paper click here

To view the accompanying Prezi click here

To Read a previous post about the Ghetto Biennale 2011

Upcoming Symposium: Representations of Slavery in Neoliberal Times

PLEASE NOTE PROGRAMME IS UPDATED IN AN ABOVE POST

Selected images from: Positive Negative Guardian Paperworks by Lubaina Himid via: http://www.lubainahimid.info/

We are happy to announce a one-day symposium to  be held at the University of Newcastle on Friday 25th May.

This symposium brings together speakers who address neoliberalism, contemporary slavery and modern slavery through the concept of representation (visual, affective, cultural and media).  It is hosted by Media and Cultural Studies, the Postcolonial Research Group and the Gender Research Group at Newcastle University.

Location: Research Beehive, Room 2.20, Old Library Building, Newcastle University

Time/Date: Friday 25th May 2012, 13:00 – 18:00, followed by a wine reception at Northern Stage.

Speakers:

Professor Marcus Wood, School of English, University of Sussex

Film Performance and the Memory of Slavery in Very Liberal Times

Professor Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Roundtable participants:

Dr. Kate Manzo (Politics, Newcastle), Dr. Diana Paton (History, Newcastle), Dr. Rachel Wells (Fine Art, Newcastle)

This is a free event, but places are limited. To book a place, please contact: Carolyn Pedwell: carolyn.pedwell@ncl.ac.uk

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Abstracts

Film Performance and the Memory of Slavery in Very Liberal Times

Professor Marcus Wood, School of English, University of Sussex

Marcus Wood will introduce and screen three short performance films that explore how the traumatic memory of slavery and colonization has been encoded in art and literature. High Tar Babies questions assumptions surrounding the concept of blackness and is intimately related to Wood’s recent tar paintings about race, hatred, slavery, and love. Kiss the Bat plays with the symbolism of the baseball bat. It highlights its significance as a symbol of at once American achievement – in that the sport is a successful cultural export – and ghetto brutality, dysfunction and violence (the bat being a weapon of choice). Stick features the adventures of a giant hockey stick as it moves through the Baroda riots in Gujarat and various sacred spaces of Hindu culture in India.

Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Professor Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire 

This essentially visual presentation will attempt to show how The Guardian newspaper in 2007, and then just as strongly during subsequent years, constantly suggests that European sports teams and clubs disproportionally overspend when buying, selling and keeping black players.  While this is not an unusual stance by journalists in the British sporting press, The Guardian by frequently and jokily representing footballers and athletes via mocking photographs, degrading texts and or damaging juxtapositions of both, subtly ‘reminds’ its readers, many of whom are public health and social workers, teachers and academics as well as workers in the creative industries, of historically familiar racial stereotypes. The newspaper designers, by taking this approach, contribute to a situation in which the athletes remain within a ‘state of unbelonging’.

Much of Lubaina Himid’s recent creative visual practice has been taken up with building this archive of images and texts. The creation of a series of paper works, Negative Positives, in which ‘over-painting to emphasise’ has gone some way towards reclaiming the dignity of the people represented has however, to some degree, minimalised the findings and rendered them outside the debates they were intended to develop. Through the sharing of a range of these collected images both overpainted and in their original state, many from the year of commemoration 2007, Himid will invite discussion around how this subtle and oftentimes witty degradation of wealthy black elites undermines the campaigns opposed to contemporary slavery while at the same time visually fixing the black person as ‘other’ to be bought and sold.

Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham

In dominant discourse on ‘trafficking’, mobility, debt and dependence are configured in a very particular way and the kind of debt involved is clearly marked as disturbing, dangerous, illegal, morally wrong. The trafficker’s objective is to make repayment impossible and so to establish personal, inescapable, and highly asymmetrical relations of power and dependency. Relations between trafficker and victim are represented as the very antithesis of freedom – trafficking is frequently referred to as ‘modern slavery’. And yet debt that generates relations of dependency is also often a feature of forms of mobility that are legally sanctioned; debt that compels people to take on work that they would otherwise refuse is hardly uncommon in Western liberal democracies; and the techniques used to recover legally sanctioned loans from citizen-debtors can be highly coercive. But legally sanctioned debt, backed by the coercive powers of the state, is not framed as ‘modern slavery’. Indeed, in neoliberal times, access to credit, i.e., the ability to indebt oneself by entering into socially sanctioned creditor-debtor relations, is a marker of social inclusion, something that both reflects and affirms political belonging and subjectivity. Starting from an interest in debt as a social relation, and in questions about why some debt relations are sanctioned while others are denounced, this paper is concerned with the ways in which liberal discourse on freedom, rights and citizenship constructs particular types of debt and dependency as ‘modern slavery’ while endorsing other arrangements that, from the vantage point of the individual affected, may appear equally if not more pernicious.

The full program me is now confirmed:

Programme of events 

1pm: Refreshments available

1.10 – 1.15: Welcome by Conference Co-Convener, Carolyn Pedwell, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

1:15 – 2:15: Professor Marcus Wood, School of English, University of Sussex: Film Performance and the Memory of Slavery in Very Liberal Times

Chair: Daniel McNeil, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

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2:15 – 3:15: Professor Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire: Negative Positives: The Guardian, The Slave, The Wit and The Money

Chair: Daniel McNeil

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3:15 – 3.45: Coffee break

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3.45 – 4.45: Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham: Debt, Freedom and Slavery in Neoliberal Times

Chair: Anne Graefer, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

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4.45 – 5.45: Roundtable

Dr. Kate Manzo (Geography, Newcastle University); Dr. Diana Paton (History, Newcastle University); Dr. Rachel Wells (Fine Art, Newcastle University)

Chair: Carolyn Pedwell

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6pm: Wine Reception, Northern Stage

PLEASE NOTE PROGRAMME IS UPDATED IN AN ABOVE POST


Video of the Week: After Hot-En-Tot: Two conversations with Artist Renée Cox

Following on from the popularity of an earlier post – If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and then you get kicked to the curb – focusing on the work of Renée Cox this week’s video feature includes two clips, each containing an interview with artist Renée Cox recorded at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art on 22 October 2009. The first is a conversation with an audience led by former Spelman Cosby chair Lisa E. Farrington, Ph.D., John Jay College, CUNY. The second is a one-on-one conversation that appears to have been filmed on the same day inside the Museum’s gallery space.

Each clip presents Cox ruminating on themes and driving forces behind her work including Race, Gender, Womanhood, Representation and Femininity. There are some overlaps in the conversation of each clip but also some interesting divergences.

The first conversation is pinned around specific works of Cox’s. It takes as its starting point the motivation for Cox’s work Hot-en-tot (1994) based on research she conducted which led her to find out about the “extraordinarily shocking histories” of human exhibition. Cox’s photographic work Hot-en-tot is inspired by the life and experiences of a Khosian woman, Saartje Baartman, who was objectified as a physiognomic curiosity and exhibited in Europe in the 19th century, as the ‘Hottentot Venus’. In Cox’s nude self-portrait her breasts and buttocks are covered with oversized prosthetic versions found for sale in a fancy dress shop. Cox discusses the power of the objectifying gaze and the importance for her in this, and other works, of revising history and creating a space to defy and return that gaze. Through revisiting Baartman’s body and the exploitative narrative that surrounded it – which became a potent symbol projected outwards onto the black female body as an abstract idea – Cox recreates, revises, and represents: A process that she employs through(out) her body (of work).

The second clip offers a more intimate and provocative discussion with Cox. She talks about the resonance of her work Queen Nanny of the Maroons (2004) which appeared in the exhibition Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic at Tate Liverpool in 2010.  Generally though, this conversation explores more broadly the social issues that “inspire and impact” her work as a whole. Here Cox discusses specific issues surrounding: education and intergration in the contemporary context of the United States and; the comparative importance of race and skin tone as identity in Jamaica and the United States. Cox encapsulates her bold and assured approach to creating as she winds up the interview stating: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and then you get kicked to the curb.”

To read more about Cox’s work click here.

To view Renée Cox’s website click here

Click here to view some images of Cox’s work online via tumblr.

BP British Art Displays: Thin Black Line(s)

Currently showing at Tate Britain is a special one-room Focus Display entitled Thin Black Line(s) devised by artist Lubaina Himid MBE, Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire, with curator Paul Goodwin.

This display focuses on the contribution of Black and Asian women artists to British art in the 1980s. Taking as its starting point three seminal exhibitions curated by artist Lubaina Himid in London from 1983 to 1985, the display charts the coming to voice of a radical generation of British artists who challenged their collective invisibility in the art world and engaged in their art with the wider social and political issues of 1980s Britain and the world.

This exhibition is free to enter and on display until March 18 2012.

More information about this Focus Display can be accessed online at Color Code and Making Histories Visible.

30 Americans at the Corcoran Gallery of Art

Get on down to the Corcoran – only one month left to see this brilliant exhibition. There is also a 2 day symposium Inner Visions Full Circle to be held in collaboration with Howard University at their Blackburn Center beginning 20 January – registration is now open online.

30 Americans is a wide-ranging survey of work by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades. Selected from the Rubell Family Collection, the exhibition brings together seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hammons with younger and emerging artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Shinique Smith. Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture. It explores how each artist reckons with the notion of black identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, popular culture, and media imagery. At the same time, it highlights artistic legacy and influence, tracing subject matter and formal strategies across generations.

For more information about 30 Americans exhibition click here.

For more information about Inner Visions Full Circle Symposium and registration click here.

’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