Centre for Photography and Visual Culture

Celeste Marie-Bernier (nottingham) - Imaging Resistance

Representing the Body, Memory & History in African American & Black British Art
Monday 16 November, 17.00-18.30
Arts A5, University of Sussex

bernierThis talk will examine the provocative and challenging ways in which African American and Black British artists have and continue to engage with the difficult legacies of slavery, colonialism and empire in their artworks produced over a fifty year period. Coming to grips with an under-researched and widely neglected field, this research project will provide the first comparative examination of the sculpture, painting, photography, graffiti, quilts, mixed-media installations, digital and performance art produced by African American and Black British artists between 1960-2010. Drawing upon archival research as well as interviews with major yet significantly under-researched artists, a key concern will be to address their self-reflexive engagement with a politicised aesthetic and an aestheticised politics across their experimental oeuvre. As my research to date demonstrates, the diverse and multifarious works produced by African American and Black British artists working on both sides of the Atlantic bear witness to their rejection of a widespread “whitewashing” (Chambers) of a black diasporic visual arts tradition. Rather, these artists’ works exist in powerful and complex relation to an array of social, political and historical no less than aesthetic contexts as they debate forceful issues related to the diasporic legacies of slavery, colonialism and empire.