As part of its 30th anniversary program, CCS Bard is pleased to present the conference Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display on November 4-6, 2021 on the campus of Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
Reshaping the field will highlight exhibition case studies that have created ruptures on how Blackness has been framed and explore how Black artists and African Diaspora Art Histories have been shaped through exhibitions in recent history.
The conference is inspired by Bridget Cooks’ groundbreaking monograph “Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum” which was the first critical exploration of exhibitions in major American Art Museums focused on African American artists. In her study, Cooks identified 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. Including luminary curators, scholars, and artists, Reshaping the field aims to expand the field of exhibition histories through a study of selected 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. The conference is the first focusing exclusively on exhibitions that featured African Diasporic Art in the United States and the United Kingdom, which combines perspectives by art historians, curators, and artists who were variously contemporary witnesses or secondary researchers on these exhibitions. Their differing roles makes the conference an opportunity to gather knowledge that traverses art historical research and oral history while generating first-hand accounts and primary materials. This approach is particularly valuable in regards to the contributions by Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the early to mid-20th century that laid the groundwork for collections and artists that allowed the field to emerge. Overall, the conference aims to reflect on the socio-political circumstances which were essential for the emergence of a field of study that is constantly reshaping itself and challenging normative exhibition-making practices.
Reshaping the field: Arts of the African Diasporas on Display is organized by Nana Adusei-Poku, Associate Professor and Luma Scholar at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.
This conference is made possible in part through the generous support of the Luma Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and through funding from Dutchess Tourism, administered by Arts Mid-Hudson.