Circuits of Belonging: Rerouting Blackness in the Imaginary at the College Art Association
3:00 PM15:00

Circuits of Belonging: Rerouting Blackness in the Imaginary at the College Art Association

In collaboration with the wonderful M. Liz Andrews and Noel Anderson, I am presenting a paper on the work of Julie Mehretu. Come to our panel at CAA in LA! Here is a brief description of my talk, entitled BLACK CITIES, MIGRANT MAPS: 

What are the aesthetic mappings of diasporic subjectivities? How does the diasporic subject, born in one place and moving to and from others, challenge cartographic ways of knowing space and geographic coordinates? The oversized paintings and drawings of Ethiopia-born and Detroit raised artist Julie Mehretu catalyzes these questions around spatial belonging, particularly within the multi-faceted African diaspora. Through a mediation on her series Black City (2007) and Landscape Allegories (2003-04), this paper argues for Mehretu’s works as abstracted cartographies of bodily memory, plotted through fragments of cities, gestures, and bodies visually layered onto one another. Her paintings refuse singular direction in service to deconstructing routedness and rootedness altogether. Black City and Landscape Allegories collapses the time, space, and environments of migratory patterns, and in doing so, they revise art historical understandings of what and how landscape images must represent and be interpreted. Landscape becomes a character wherein it consumes how bodies negotiate, identify and transform space, which ultimately involves relations of power. With a particular attention to how the racialized migrant moves across cityspaces, I read Mehretu’s works through the mobile frame of refugees, immigrants and migrants who have been forced to rethink belonging altogether. Importantly, this paper links form and content: the scale and method through which Mehretu creates Black City and Landscape Allegories, asks the body to spread, stretch, and reach beyond human height through physical forms of large canvases, and at the same time, the chaotic content illustrates the boundless realm of migrant cartography.

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to Oct 8

Movements at the End of the World: Inhumanist Kinship and Care as Minoritarian Performance

I am co-convening a working group with James McMaster and Patricia Gomes from NYU's Performance Studies: 

What forms of care and kinship are required for the survival and sustainability of inhuman life as we approach irrecoverable ecological destruction? To speak of inhuman life is not only to acknowledge the vitality of things, plants, and animals from within the Anthropocene, but also to recognize the minoritarian subjects for whom the category of the Human has historically been inhospitable. For these under-siege constituencies—people of color, queer and trans individuals, women, indigenous peoples, the disabled—survival takes hold within alternative structures of kinship that organize and are organized by the collective performance of care that reproduces life itself. Within several indigenous ontologies, the human is one minor node in a greater network of kin-making. When and how does performance, among other creative practices, offer a way of being beyond our species? What modalities of movement are required to shift our stance, to re-evaluate the terms of engagement to which we have been disciplined? In accordance with “Unsettling the Americas,” this workshop seeks to map the intimate geographies of kinship and care that sustain inhumanity alongside artists, scholars, and activists tired with the worn-out category of the Human. Ours is a mission to unsettle a version of the enlightened Euro-centric human that Caribbean philosopher Sylvia Wynter has simply called “Man.” We welcome academics, artists, and activists to join us in our collective study of resistance movements, care-full interdependencies, and more-than-human life-worlds.

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