The conference and exhibition will offer comparative perspectives on the historical and contemporary role played by photography, art, film, literature, and music in referencing the image of the black body in the West. It will be held in Florence, Italy, in May 28-31, 2015—as a sequel to five conferences held over the past six years. The most recent conference in the series was held in Paris, France in January 2013, where it attracted over 400 attendees. As on those occasions, the sixth conference will bring together artists and scholars from an assortment of disciplines and practices, including art history, fashion, dance, theater, and studio art, in wide-ranging conversations about imaging the black body. In this context, “Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories,” explores the impulses, ideas, and techniques undergirding the production of self-representation and desire, and the exchange of the gaze from the 19th century to the present day in fashion, film, art, and the archives.
In conjunction with the conference, the exhibition, ReSignifications, curated by New York University Professor Awam Amkpa, will be open May 29th to August 29th 2015. The exhibition is an inter-artistic re-staging of European 17-19th century objects of decorative arts loosely termed ‘Blackamoors’, through works that foreground African and African Diasporic bodies as heterogeneous subjects of history and culture. It includes the blackamoors alongside contemporary re-stagings of black African bodies as subjects of varieties of contemporary art by artists working in Europe, Africa and the Americas. ‘ReSignifications’ brings together these artists in a critical dialogue with artifacts that objectify black bodies, as well as those that portray black subjectivity. The exhibition will intersect with the conference papers in order to enhance the discussion among scholars, visual and performing artists, writers, historians, arts administrators, curators, legal scholars, students and the general public.