|'The Merchant of Venice' by Kiluanji Kia Henda, 2010|
How might we understand the expansive experiences from historical perceptions and contemporary art? Conference participants will unite across diverse disciplines and topics through a shared commitment to analyzing the body politics.
How the black body has been imagined in the West has always been a rich site for global examination and contestation. The representation and depiction of black peoples often has been governed by prevailing attitudes about race and sexuality. From the ubiquitous Renaissance paintings of blacks as the “other” positioned as the sublime backdrop or purposely attracting the lustful gaze of the other, to the recent French Elle magazine article on First Lady Michelle Obama’s sense of style finally filtering down to the fashion-strapped black masses, to the Italian Vogue special issue on African fashion, there is evidence that discussion of the black body remains relevant.
How the black body is displayed and viewed changes with each generation constantly allowing young diasporic generations from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, the U.K., Middle East, and the Caribbean to add their own dimensions to explore ideas about reinvention and self-representation. The universality of black culture and its global presence has played a leading role in mainstream sports, music, fashion and the performing and visual arts with implications worthy of much critique.
Paris, an internationally key and highly influential Western space in all things concerning the arts and modernity, is the perfect stage for Black Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West, the fifth in a series of conferences organized by Harvard University and NYU since 2004. The event is the result of an international collaboration between the Department of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and the Institute for African American Affairs, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, and NYU Paris. This year, our collaborators also include Cornell University, Musée du quai Branly, FSHM, L’Ecole Nationalae Superieure des Beaux Arts, and NYU Paris.