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Combined frame grabs from Music Is My Mistress, directed by Kahlil Joseph (2017)

The Liquidity of the Black Arts

  • Thursday, October 27, 2022
  • 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • West Building Lecture Hall + Virtual
  • Virtual Program

Registration Required

Registration is required and opens Thursday, October 13, at noon. 

A public colloquium presented by Alessandra Raengo, Paul Mellon Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State University.

Toni Morrison described the alignment of Romare Bearden’s visual aesthetics with the music-making processes of jazz as an example of the “liquidity” of the Black arts, offering that term as a corrective to disciplinary frameworks’ fixation with discrete artforms and their failure to realize that Black art always hinged on liquid practices; that is, a constant intermingling between artforms and the understanding and practicing of one in terms of another: musical rhythms as visual conceits, photography as improvised music, filmmaking as music-making, and others.

While liquidity so conceived is not new among Black post-disciplinary multimedia artists, this talk addresses a specific artistic lineage that approaches the unruly archives of black expressive culture as an art-historical archive, thus demanding a more capacious understanding of the purview of art history and its approach to collective creative processes—or what Stefano Harney and Fred Moten describe as the practice of “black study.”

Focusing on selected works by Kahlil Joseph and Jenn Nkiru, this talk discusses how their straddling the line between commercial and art spaces, music videos and installation art, visual albums and essay films, site-specific community-based exhibitions, and streaming platforms further highlights liquidity as a challenge to distinctions between high art and popular culture, single authorship and collaborative practices, product and process, practice and praxis.