Saturday, September 27, 2014

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: “Black Arts United States: Institutions and Interventions”

Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz image of Rhapsody, by John Yancey in Charles E. Urdy Plaza, East Austin


“Black Arts United States: Institutions and Interventions”

June 4-6, 2015

Northwestern University

Black expressive culture in the United States has a long and contested history whose boundaries are almost impossible to qualify and whose animating forces continue to evolve. Yet the African American arts—whether film, theater, dance, visual art, music, literature, or performance—necessarily tack between the pull of tradition and the push toward innovation, a dynamic often reflected in the processes through which artistic practices are codified as either conventional or transgressive at any given moment. Such designations both illuminate the historical conditions in which black art is produced and determine what practices come to be circulated, canonized, denigrated, or forgotten.
Bringing together artists, scholars, activists, administrators, and representatives of arts organizations, this cross-disciplinary conference aims to reconsider how we understand what constitutes an intervention within the black arts, and how such interventions come into contact with mainstream and culturally specific institutional frames. Given the vexed conditions in which black aesthetic practice now unfolds—thanks to a shrinking public sphere increasingly shaped by market forces rather than cultural expertise—these concerns seem particularly pressing today, but they are part and parcel of that much longer history of black subjects’ coming to voice within American culture.
Accordingly, the conference organizing committee welcomes proposals on the following themes:
  • The relationship between tradition and innovation in the black arts
  • The role of “mainstream” institutions in shaping black artistic histories
  • The history of black arts institutions in the United States and the challenges facing them today
  • The politics of institutionally funded artists versus independent artists
  • The relationship between academic institutions and communities relative to black artistic production
  • New understandings of cross-institutional collaborations
  • Alternative networks for institutionalizing the black arts
  • Interventions into, critiques of, and/or resistance to institutions
  • The impact of criticism on the valuation of black art
  • The impact of audience expectation on black artistic production in an age of new media
  • Governmentality versus marketability of the black arts
  • Spatial and temporal assumptions about black arts
  • Non-urban spaces for black art production
  • Black arts and the environment
  • Black arts and/as activism
  • Black arts as commodity
  • Black arts and political economy
  • Black arts as a site of resistance
  • Black arts and the public sphere
Please submit a proposal (250 words or less) for individual papers of 15 – 20 minutes (approx. 8 – 10 double spaced pages in length) or visual presentations (short films, performances, videos), along with audio/video needs and a 2-page CV highlighting research and experience germane to the proposed presentation to email address) by December 5, 2014. Please include “BAI Conference Proposal” in the subject line. Participants will be notified of acceptance or rejection of the proposal by January 16, 2015.
“Black Arts United States: Institutions and Interventions” Call for Proposals PDF

The Black Arts Initiative (BAI) at Northwestern University cultivates an interdisciplinary approach to black arts. Launched in 2012, BAI seeks to engage myriad perspectives, strengthen Northwestern’s involvement in black arts, and connect with a broader community of scholars, practitioners and community members through research, pedagogy, practice, and civic & community engagement. You can learn more about us at our website:


Rhaisa Williams
Northwestern University
Ph.D Candidate in Performance Studies

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Questioning Aesthetics Symposium @ Pratt Institute (photos)

"Questioning Aesthetics": A Symposium, began yesterday at the Pratt Institute, and will conclude today. Convened by Michael Kelly of University of North Carolina and Gregg Horowitz of the Pratt, the first day featured three fascinating panels: first: "Conceptualism, Conceptual Art, & Aesthetics,"; second, "Aesthetic Computing, Digitization, & Data Visualization"; third, "Decolonizing Aesthetics, Migratory Aesthetics, & Diaspora Criticism." Three more panels, on "Participatory Aesthetics, Art, & Social Practice"; "Race, Art, & Aesthetics"; and "Improvisation, Embodiment, & Experimental Art," will feature today.The diversity of themes implied by these panel titles, and the even greater variety of topics featured in the new Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (Second Edition) recently, published by Oxford UP, and for which the symposium is convened, is a clear indication that perhaps more than other realms of philosophy, "Aesthetics" is a fugitive idea or concept, at once useful and insufficient for describing and examining an aspect of the still-to-be-fully mapped terrain inhabited by and produced by the human (not simply folks from a particular part of the world) senses. Anyways, here below are photos from the first day:

Gregg Horowitz at the Podium; seated left to right: Edward Dimenberg (UC Irvine), Eve Meltzer (NYU), Jorge Otero-Pailos (Columbia), and Jacob Stewart-Halevy (Yale)

Jacob Stewart-Halevy

Jorge Otero-Pailos with a participant

Second Panel: Michael Kelly, Christiane Paul (Whitney Museum), Amber Frid-Jimenez (Emily Carr Univ.), Boris Groys (NYU), Christopher Sula (Pratt)

Christiane Paul               
Boris Groys

Karen Lang (Warwick) and Brent Hayes Edwards (Columbia), were in Panel Three, with Miguel Rojas-Sotero (Duke) and me, chaired by Gregg Horowitz

Michael and Brent 
Miguel with a participant

Miguel Rojas-Sotelo
Karen Lang

Brent Hayes Edwards

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Anthony Lemelle Jr (1952-2014), RIP

I received news today of the death of the renowned sociologist Anthony Lemelle, Jr. who until his death was professor at John Jay College and Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He was also for long time the editor-in-chief of the Journal of African American Studies on the board of which I serve. We never met in person, but from my interactions with him, he came across as a man of great personal and intellectual integrity. May he rest in peace.+++

This is an announcement prepared by his sister:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Timbuktu: A New Film by Abderrahmane Sissako

A Cohen Media Group Release
Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako
Written by Abderrahmane Sissako and Kessen Tall
Starring Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino, Toulou Kiki, Abel Jafri, Fatoumata Diawara


Opens in New York on January 28, 2015 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Film Forum

**Mauritania’s official selection for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film**
**Winner: 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s Ecumenical Jury Prize**
**Winner: 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s Francois Chalais Award**
Official Selection: 2014 New York Film Festival
Official Selection: 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, Masters Section

Director Abderrahmane Sissako will be available for interviews in New York on October 1 and 2

On behalf of Cohen Media Group, you are cordially invited to attend a screening of TIMBUKTU, acclaimed director Abderrahmane Sissako’s lyrical, visually arresting drama, a multiple prize-winner at this past year’s Cannes Film Festival.  TIMBUKTU, Mauritania’s official selection for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is scheduled to open in New York on January 28, 2015 (at Lincoln Plaza and Film Forum) with a national roll out to follow.

Not far from  the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu, now ruled by the religious fundamentalists, proud cattle herder Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino) lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima (Toulou Kiki), his daughter Toya (Layla Walet Mohamed), and Issan (Mehdi Ag Mohamed), their twelve-year-old shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences.  Kidane and his family are being spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny changes when Kidane accidentally kills Amadou, the fisherman who slaughtered “GPS,” his beloved cow. Coming into fateful conflict with the fundamentalist rulers of the provincial capital, he has to face the new laws of the foreign occupants. Visually, Timbuktu is a series of wonders and Sissako’s becalmed and sensitive eye for beauty intensifies the absurdity and horror of the film’s quietly unfolding tragedy. 

Born in Kiffa, Mauritania, director/writer Abderrahmane Sissako’s family emigrated to Mali when he was a child.  After returning to his mother’s homeland of Mauritania at 19, Mr. Sissako left for Moscow in the early 1980s to study cinema at the prestigious film academy VGIK.  He served on the juries of the Berlin and Cannes Film festivals, and was the jury president at the entrance examination of the famed French film school La Femis. His previous films include the acclaimed Life on Earth, Waiting for Happiness, and Bamako.

 “… a mesmerizing mix of mood and tone" — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“One of the great portraits of what happens when Islamic fundamentalists take over a region. What makes it so good is that it isn’t the usual cavalcade of screaming, gun-happy terrorists, but a quiet, wise, sometimes funny depiction of what happens to a community when, bit by bit, it’s taken over by a medieval vision of life.” — John Powers, Vogue

Press screening and Press conference: 
Wednesday, October 1 at 10:00 am at Walter Reade Theatre, 165 West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues
Press conference with Abderrahmane Sissako immediately following the screening
Running time: 97 minutes
France/Mauritania. In Arabic, Bambara, French, English, Songhay, and Tamasheq with English subtitles.  

To RSVP to the screening or request interviews, please email Sophie Gluck at or Aimee Morris at or call Sophie Gluck & Associates at (212) 595-2432. THIS INVITATION IS NON-TRANSFERABLE.

Please download photos at:
User: Press
Password: pressroom

Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako.  Written by Abderrahmane Sissako and Kessen Tall.  Cinematography by Sofiane El Fani.  Edited by Nadia Ben Rachid.  Music by Amin Bouhafa.  Starring Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino, Toulou Kiki, Abel Jafri, Fatoumata Diawara.  A Cohen Media Group release.

Aimee Morris
Sophie Gluck & Associates

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Museum of Modern Art, New York seeking Curatorial Assistant

The Museum of Modern Art is currently accepting applications for a Curatorial Assistant in its Department of Painting and Sculpture to assist the department’s senior curators in all areas of their responsibilities such as research for exhibitions and publications, loans, acquisitions, collections records, bibliographic and biographical records and files, and general curatorial inquiries.
Specific responsibilities are as follows:

  • Researches and catalogs the Museum collection and archives as they relate to installation and exhibition matters and answers related inquiries.
  • Assists in research and preparation for potential acquisitions for the collection, including biographical and bibliographical research, maintains files, and communicates with dealers, galleries, collectors, and artists, as necessary.
  • Assists in the maintenance of the collection and loans, and expedites arrangements for custodial, registration, conservation, and preparation work as required in the gallery, study, and storage areas.
  • Assists senior curators with all aspects of exhibition research, planning, organization, and realization.
  • Writes, edits, and assists in the production of Museum publications and exhibition-related materials, including wall texts and extended object labels.
  • Performs exhibition support functions, including bibliographic and checklist research, loan correspondence, publication research and production, website development, and public program planning.
  • Functions as a liaison with outside persons and organizations, and with other departments within the Museum.
  • Conducts daily collection gallery inspections and daily inspection of works on view in temporary exhibitions and assists with follow-up arrangements in the event of damage, deterioration, etc.
  • Answers inquiries and conducts some gallery tours as necessary for visitors, etc.

Qualified candidates will possess a Master’s degree in art history with expertise in early-to-mid-century modern as well as contemporary art history, with a focus on work by black artists practicing in U.S. and international frameworks. Superior research and writing skills are essential. Strong knowledge of French desired. Strong organizational skills and attention to detail. Working knowledge of MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and other standard office procedures and skills.

Please submit resume and cover letter, including salary requirements, to Please reference the position title/department in the subject line.

The Museum encourages candidates from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines to apply.
The Museum of Modern Art is an equal opportunity employer and considers all candidates for employment regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, creed, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
August 2014

Princeton in Africa Fellowships

This is a great opportunity for young graduates of US colleges/universities to work in Africa for one year. 

Ọfọdunka: Contemporary Art / South Africa--panel discussion @ Yale

The panel Discussion at Yale, featuring Judy Hecker (MoMA, NY), Zanele Muholi (Artivist, Jo'burg), and moi takes place tomorrow, Sept. 11, and is open to the public.

Ọfọdunka: Contemporary Art / South Africa--panel discussion @ Yale

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Photos from the Igwe Achebe's book presentation

Igwe Achebe's arrival at the Hilton Woodcliff Lake venue. All photos copyright: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Igwe Achebe and Professor Obiora Udechukwu 

Professor Ifeanyi Menkiti, Philosopher, Wellesley College

Chief Chike Momah

Dr. Alex Oti, MD Diamond Bank Plc. Sponsors of the two-volume book

Professor Sherry Fafunwa and novelist Okey Ndibe, author of Foreign Gods Inc.

Dr. Apollos Nwauwa, former president, Igbo Studies Association. Book reviewer