Visualising Slavery

Art Across the African Diaspora

Edited by Celeste-Marie Bernier and Hannah Durkin

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ISBN: 9781781382677

Publication: March 10, 2016

Series: Liverpool Studies in International Slavery 9

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The purpose of this book is to excavate and recover a wealth of under-examined artworks and research materials directly to interrogate, debate and analyse the tangled skeins undergirding visual representations of transatlantic slavery across the Black diaspora. Living and working on both sides of the Atlantic, as these scholars, curators and practitioners demonstrate, African diasporic artists adopt radical and revisionist practices by which to confront the difficult aesthetic and political realities surrounding the social and cultural legacies let alone national and mythical memories of Transatlantic Slavery and the international Slave Trade. Adopting a comparative perspective, this book investigates the diverse body of works produced by black artists as these contributors come to grips with the ways in which their neglected and repeatedly unexamined similarities and differences bear witness to the existence of an African diasporic visual arts tradition. As in-depth investigations into the diverse resistance strategies at work within these artists’ vast bodies of work testify, theirs is an ongoing fight for the right to art for art’s sake as they challenge mainstream tendencies towards examining their works solely for their sociological and political dimensions. This book adopts a cross- cultural perspective to draw together artists, curators, academics, and public researchers in order to provide an interdisciplinary examination into the eclectic and experimental oeuvre produced by black artists working within the United States, the United Kingdom and across the African diaspora. The overall aim of this book is to re-examine complex yet under-researched theoretical paradigms vis-à-vis the patterns of influence and cross-cultural exchange across both America and a black diasporic visual arts tradition, a vastly neglected field of study.

Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of Black Studies and Personal Chair in English Literature, University of Edinburgh.

Hannah Durkin is Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in the Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham.

List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Introduction: ‘Inside the Invisible’: African Diasporic Artists Visualise Transatlantic Slavery - Celeste-Marie Bernier and Hannah Durkin Part I Slavery and Memory in Contemporary African Diasporic Art 1. Lost and Found at the Swop-Meet: Betye Saar, the Everyday Object and the Work of Lubaina Himid - Lubaina Himid 2. Preserves - Debra Priestly 3. What Goes without Saying - Hank Willis Thomas 4. Spectres in the Postcolonies: Re-imagining Violence and Resistance - Roshini Kempadoo 5. Strategic Remembering and Tactical Forgetfulness in Depicting the Plantation: A Personal Account - Keith Piper Part II Historical Iconography and Visualising Transatlantic Slavery 6. The Chattel Record: Visualising the Archive in Diasporan Art - Fionnghuala Sweeney 7. Henry Box Brown, African Atlantic Artists and Radical Interventions - Alan Rice 8. Uncle Tom and the Problem of ‘Soft’ Resistance to Slavery - David Bindman 9. The After-Image: Frederick Douglass in Visual Culture - Zoe Trodd Part III African Diasporic Monuments and Memorialisation 10. Siting the Circum-Atlantic: Nelson in a Bottle in Trafalgar Square - Geoffrey Quilley 11. Art and Caribbean Slavery: Modern Visions of the 1763 Guyana Rebellion - Leon Wainwright 12. ‘The Greatest Negro Monuments on Earth’: Richmond Barthé’s Memorials to Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines - Hannah Durkin Part IV Contemporary Legacies in African Diasporic Art 13. We Might Not Be Surprised: Visualising Slavery and the Slave Ship in the Works of Charles Campbell and Mary Evans - Eddie Chambers 14. ‘X is for X Ray, X Slave, X Colony’: A ‘Lexicon of Liberation’ versus ‘My Slave History’ in the Paintings, Installations and Sketchbooks of Donald Rodney - Celeste-Marie Bernier 15. Reconfiguring African Trade Beads: The Most Beautiful, Bountiful and Marginalised Sculptural Legacy to have Survived the Middle Passage - Marcus Wood Afterword: Against the Grain: Contingency and Found Objects - Nathan Grant Notes on Contributors Index

This diverse and finely nuanced collection of essays adds significantly to debates about slavery and visual culture in the Anglophone world. By interweaving new work by the major art-historical scholars in the field with essays by artists whose work reflects upon, and draws creative power from, the trauma of slavery, this book presents a lively new conspectus of an important area of study that has come into its own in recent years. This book rightly refuses to consign slavery safely to the past, but rather insists on its ‘nonsynchronous contemporaneity’. Slavery’s presence, mediated by memory and present through its many legacies, is presented here as a key force in contemporary visual culture – and indeed in culture at large. - Professor Tim Barringer, Yale University


Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

304 Pages

29 B&W illustrations and 32 colour illustrations

ISBN: 9781781382677

Publication: March 10, 2016

Series: Liverpool Studies in International Slavery 9

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