Charis welcomes Tina Campt in conversation with Ra Malika Imhotep for a celebration of A Black Gaze: Artists Changing How We See. In A Black Gaze, Tina Campt examines Black contemporary artists who are shifting the very nature of our interactions with the visual through their creation and curation of a distinctively Black gaze. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History. This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis’ virtual event platform.
From Deana Lawson’s disarmingly intimate portraits to Arthur Jafa’s videos of the everyday beauty and grit of the Black experience, from Khalil Joseph’s films and Dawoud Bey’s photographs to the embodied and multimedia artistic practice by Okwui Okpakwasili, Simone Leigh, and Luke Willis Thompson–their work requires viewers to do more than simply look; it solicits visceral responses to the visualization of Black precarity.
Campt shows that this new way of seeing shifts viewers from the passive optics of looking at to the active struggle of looking with, through, and alongside the suffering–and joy–of Black life in the present. The artists whose work Campt explores challenge the fundamental disparity that defines the dominant viewing practice: the notion that Blackness is the elsewhere (or nowhere) of whiteness. These artists create images that flow, that resuscitate and revalue the historical and contemporary archive of Black life in radical ways. Writing with rigor and passion, Campt describes the creativity, ingenuity, cunning, and courage that is the modus operandi of a Black gaze.
Tina M. Campt, a Black feminist theorist of visual culture and contemporary art, is Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and a Research Associate at the VIAD (Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre) at the University of Johannesburg. She is the author of Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe, Listening to Images, and other books.
Ra Malika Imhotep is a Black feminist writer and cultural worker from Atlanta, Ga currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Imhotep’s creative and intellectual work tends to the relationships between Black femininity, Vernacular aesthetics, and the performance of labor. She is the co-author of The Black Feminist Study Theory Atlas.
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