Terra Foundation-supported Events

Conference: “African-American Artists and the Color Line. Histories, Genealogies, Forms, Gestures”

The Terra Foundation for American Art is very pleased to support this international conference, organized in partnership with the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac and the Université de Rennes 2 (Histoire et critique des arts and Arts, Pratiques et Poétiques), on the occasion of the exhibition The Color Line, at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac (October 4, 2016–January 15, 2017).

Integrating the collective memory of the black community into the study of work by African American artists, particularly in light of the historical role of slavery and segregation in the United States, has become a necessity in a cultural context in which plurality paradoxically signifies both unison and isolation. Inequalities regarding public reception, insufficient understanding of the consequences of the traumas of slavery, the coexistence of a dual African and European heritage, and inadequate access to media and means of distribution have formed some of the major themes that have marked African American art since the end of the nineteenth century until today. Entangled within these contradictions and rich with experiences that blend global awareness, political engagement, artistic creation, and local knowledge, African American artists have maintained a production conscious of the limits to which they have been subjected while at the same time highlighting the possibility of transcending them. Their artistic expressions have coexisted with militant gestures and connections to historically and spiritually significant domains, in order to make way for a creative freedom unique in the history of art, wherein radicalness becomes form, silence becomes sound, and the invisible becomes visual.

Examining the practices of African American artists from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries through the lens of historical, aesthetic, and political concerns, this symposium proposes to rethink this art history in view of current research. This encompasses questions regarding the manner in which various official cultural policies have attempted to maintain the specificity of the African-American case, while at the same time producing disparities and distinctions that exclude the possibility of mainstream readings of these artists. Art historians, museum curators, theorists, critics, and artists will consider the compartmentalization in which African-American art has long found itself, while thinking closely about the possibility of breaking through these barriers.

Please click here to view and download the complete program in French and in English.

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