This study day explores the aesthetics practices of Afro-surrealism through a kaleidoscope of feminist, queer and trans* optics. We seek to decolonize surrealism from the Eurocentric frame of art history and colonial anthropology, and look expansively at black (and blak) art forms that take on the fantastical, the mythical and the otherworldly. Desire and transgression stoke the roots of resistance and build momentum for rebellion. We seek a day to study these movements of the imagination. Resisting institutional and intellectual tendencies to separate blackness and indigeneity, we wish to reconnect Afro-surrealism to a planet-spanning archipelago of freedom dreams, fugitive escapades and dissident genders. Transgression is not the sole purview of white men seeking to escape the prison-house of normotic conformity. Nor are we the spirit guides and magical negroes of a dying Eurocentrism. We are interested in how the often obscene hallucinatory reality of blak (and black) life can inform art in form and content, and help us re-envision what we mean by freedom and selfhood.
Participants: Tina Campt, Jayna Brown, Luke Willis Thompson, Naima Ramos Chapman, Tiona Nekkia McCLodden
Tavia Nyong'o is Professor of African-American Studies, American Studies and Theatre and Performance Studies at Yale University. His research interests include the ethics and aesthetics of social and cultural analysis. His books include: The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (2009), which won the Errol Hill Award for best book in African American theatre and performance studies, and Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life (2018). Nyong'o co-edits the journal Social Text (Duke University Press) with David Sartorius. Nyong'o is co-series editor of the Sexual Cultures book series at New York University Press with Ann Pellegrini and Joshua Chambers-Letson.