[-empyre-] Liquid Blackness- Week II: Aesthetics

Jason R LaRiviere jrl424 at nyu.edu
Wed Apr 13 12:32:48 AEST 2016

You all might be interested in this special issue of Rhizomes on
Afro-pessimism that was just published:

On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 10:02 PM, Alessandra Raengo <araengo at gsu.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thank you, Tommy, for your continued engagement.
> You hit on something that is terribly important: what to do with the
> ontological conundrum of blackness? I use the term “conundrum” to hopefully
> avoid taking sides (at least momentarily) between afro-pessimism and
> afro-optimism and therefore try to better understand where you come from.
> Please let me know if I am off the mark.
> What appreciate in what you are saying is not only the
> being/thinking/doing “in motion”, but also the insistence on black
> presence. If for Wilderson and Sexton blackness is lived in conditions of
> antagonism or social death, for Moten black sociality—black social
> life—simply is, and does not have to be explained or justified.
> A different energy comes from each position; a different project, and also
> a different type of scholarship, which, in turn might have a different
> relationship to artistic practice.
> I don’t want to get into the tall grass regarding the conversation on
> afro-pessimism/optimism in this forum—others are better equipped than me—
> but I wanted to wonder aloud for a moment, following Tommy’s contribution,
> whether the relationship between theory/scholarship and art practice has
> something to do with how productive, generative, and experimental one
> thinks blackness to be, and whether its ontological conundrum is one of
> hopeless exclusion or constant invention.
> Similarly, one might think differently about the object and goal of
> scholarship: perhaps not so much as a type of knowing or deconstructing,
> but a type of making, instead.
> Alessandra
> > On Apr 12, 2016, at 9:01 PM, Thomas F. DeFrantz <t.defrantz at duke.edu>
> wrote:
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Thomas F. DeFrantz
> > Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 11:43 AM
> > To: soft_skinned_space
> > Subject: RE: [-empyre-] Liquid Blackness- Week II: Aesthetics
> >
> > i'm not sure what to think about liberation or transcendence as goals.
> what if we aren't trying to *not* be on the planet with others, but trying
> to find ways to shift possibilities so that the spaces can allow for
> temporary diversities?  we all come and go;  maybe this is like the liquid
> that seeps and stalls; freezes then bubbles.  liberation and transcendence
> seem unlikely to me, and imply a 'not being-ness.' my skepticism here feeds
> into a distrust of afro-pessimism, even as I surely find the ground where
> it grows to be familiar. being black is somehow related to the tension of
> holding an ontological possibility for black presence; to hold that tension
> productively, freedom will be an unattainable, momentary goal.  is that
> okay?  black aesthetics suggest, well, yes, it's okay; of course it is all
> temporary and contingent.
> >
> > i also wonder that there could ever be an 'outside to the West.' how
> could anyone on the planet be outside direct relationship to structures of
> capital, empire, and white domination?  this is the ground that produces
> afro-pessimism, but I wonder that we aren't all afro-pessimists if this is
> true, and what distinctively comes from a designation of resistance to the
> modern.
> >
> > in my own body, as I reflect on my various identities and relationships,
> I don't feel overdetermined so much as overwhelmed by life in the
> twenty-first century.
> > others might think too much of me; but that is their predilection; can
> we talk about how to have access to materials that will allow for the
> enhancement of black lives in various locations?  for my cousins in the
> virgin islands; my nephews in hayward, ca; my brother in indianapolis, in?
> for my play-family in south carolina?
> >
> > i think of the aesthetics of blackness as methods to produce
> contingencies that enhance possibilities.  as in the free jazz/passing
> through project.  making black art is making black relationships palpable,
> and making these relationships dynamic and unstable.  so we can learn in
> the making.
> >
> > then what if we all took time to make black art?  to invent
> performances/installations/writing that resist, that speak of family and
> spirit, that engage rhythm and unexpected arrivals of group communion.
> that subvert hegemony. black performance pretty much always arrives queer;
> our common concerns with adornment and elaboration ensure this.
> >
> > so, what shall we make together?
> >
> > in motion, tommy
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au [mailto:
> empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Derek Murray
> > Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 12:59 AM
> > To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> > Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Liquid Blackness- Week II: Aesthetics
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space---------------------- Greetings!
> >
> > Much of the discussion thus far has been wrestling with the problem of
> blackness in the Western context that, as Alessandra has articulated, is
> expressive of “affects that are modulated by race in order to express
> radical difference.” This fact is a persistent barrier to imagining a black
> expressiveness—particularly in the West—that is somehow liberated from
> histories and present-day realities of racial trauma, insult, and violence.
> African-American artistic traditions (which is my current research focus),
> across genres, are deeply communicative of these realities. The visual
> artists I write about are engaged in critical and aesthetic projects that
> attempt to rewrite and ultimately transcend the racialized barriers that
> restrict their creative potential.
> >
> > Much of this work has taken the form of an engagement with the black
> body as an ideologically over-determined imago of mythic resplendence:
> > one that is deeply burdened, not as a kind of humanness, but rather as
> social symbolism—something that bears the weight of societal scorn, guilt,
> and politically correct sentiment. Because so much black American art has
> been concerned with pain, visual producers associated with post-blackness
> have attempted to construct a visual politics of pleasure that rejects
> “lack” as the defining characteristic of black representation and
> experience. Saidiya Hartman did great work that I’m sure we’re all familiar
> with around the denial of black sentience, which is very much at the root
> of (and justifies) subjection.
> >
> > Recently, however, there is a turn towards formalism, the abstract, and
> medium specificity as an escape from the limitations imposed by the body.
> In a sense, this movement has been influenced by intellectuals like
> Hartman, whose innovative work has meaningfully foregrounded the importance
> of affect. African scholar Olu Oguibe has done this as well, attempting to
> lift blackness out of its ideological condition of unknowable alterity,
> famously stating: “there is always a lot of light in the heart of
> darkness.” I think we strive to find that light that exists beyond the
> overbearing “screen of blackness” that Fanon speaks about, or Lacan’s
> “repertoire of representations”; the means by which culture configures
> difference and through which social identity is fixed upon subjects. I
> mention these interventions with the intent to say that the desire to
> locate black expressivity, affect and the sensorial beyond trauma has
> always been done—in fact, it defines black creative traditions throughout
> the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
> >
> > Derek
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> >
> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3a%2f%2fempyre.library.cornell.edu&data=01%7c01%7caraengo%40gsu.edu%7c3634ceccc22141977aad08d363375303%7c515ad73d8d5e4169895c9789dc742a70%7c0&sdata=FUBWw31YYiphg4Jz56AWuYdnFCAQS%2bFvDwej27NTxFo%3d
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20160412/7b79a70b/attachment.html>

More information about the empyre mailing list