As part of our 30th anniversary programming, CCS Bard is pleased to host the conference Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display which will highlight exhibition case studies that have created ruptures on how Blackness has been framed through exhibitions and stresses how Black artists and African Diaspora Art Histories has been shaped. The conference will take place on the campus of Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Speakers and registration details will be available soon.
Inspired by Bridget Cook’s groundbreaking monograph “Exhibiting Blackness- African Americans and the American Art Museum”, which was the first critical exploration of exhibitions in major American Art Museums that focus on African American artists. Cooks identified in her study two methodological paradigms the “anthropological” which emphasized Black racial difference and White normalcy and “the corrective approach”, which aimed at redefining and expanding American Art. Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas and Continent on Display aims to expand the field of Exhibition Histories through a selection of pioneering exhibitions that have shaped the domain of Black art today.
Whilst addressing the seemingly never-ending tension between art as universal vs. identity specific with a trans-diasporic view ( US/UK), each panel addresses this question in different ways showing that the question of Black identity in art and exhibition making is inherently historically and systemically produced. Yet, the conference aims to reflect on the socio-political circumstances which were essential for the emergence of a field of study and exhibiting that is constantly reshaping itself and challenging normative orders. This conference is the first focusing exclusively on Exhibitions that featured African Diasporic Art in the United States and the UK, which combines perspectives by art historians, curators and artists who span between secondary researchers and contemporary witnesses, which means that we will have the opportunity to gather knowledge that traverses art historical research and oral history whilst generating primary sources. This approach is particularly invaluable in regards to the contributions by Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the beginning till mid 20th century that laid the groundwork for collections and artists support that allowed the field to emerge.
Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display is organized by Nana Adusei-Poku, Associate Professor and Luma Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.