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Black Artists | White Labels

Black Mark and The Point of Order invite you to Black Artists | White Labels 6 June | 18:00 |

The Point of Order Panelists: Khwezi Gule Rory Bester Sharlene Khan Lwandile Fikeni Same Mdluli

Moderated by Zen Marie Opening address by Nontobeko Ntombela

The recent three-way public conversation between the staff of the Wits Art Museum, initiated through Lwandile Fikeni’s article ‘Black Modernisms, White Saviours’ published in the City Press on the ‘Black Modernisms’ exhibition currently running at the same Museum, has prompted a series of debates on social media and other art platforms.

Much of these debates are focused on, what now seems to be personal accusations, attacks and public slander, moving away from what was initially about larger issues of institutional power, transformation and knowledge production on the works of black modern South African artists. By bringing this panel of experts together, ‘Black Artists, White Labels’ is an attempt to refocus this discussion to issues pertinent to the development of the history of South African black modern art. It asks questions, about the limitations of such forms of representations (the exhibitions) in acknowledging and complicating the values and intellectual contributions of black modern artists in South Africa’s art history.

The panelist have been invited to respond to the following four areas; – institutional dominance versus personal power dynamics (transformation) – tensions in the writing of biographies and autobiographies (the artist’s agency) – museums and exhibitions as sites of struggle (curatorial strategies) strategies of overlooking, deletion and the negation of critical black voices in the arts (acknowledgement of work done by black practitioners)  

Black artists white labels invitation


Nicole R. Fleetwood Lecture

Talk | Democracy’s Promise: Visual Genealogies of Black Male Leaders and Transnational Audiences

The Point of Order | 16 April | 17:00

“This talk examines photographic genealogies of black male political leadership and its highly orchestrated display of race, nation, and family. I focus on the use of these images in social movement and civil rights struggles. These visual projects rehistoricize race and nation by positing the political rise of a black male leader as the high mark of a democratic and free nation. Within these politico-scapes, there is a claim to the furthest reaches of normative and hegemonic power, even as the trajectory meanders through motely genealogies of political evolution.” – Nicole Fleetwood

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Nicole R. Fleetwood is Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She researches and teaches in the areas of visual culture and media studies, black cultural studies, gender theory, and culture and technology studies. Her articles appear in African American Review, American Quarterly, Callalloo: Art and Culture in the African Diaspora, Public Culture, Signs, Social Text, tdr: the journal of performance studies, and edited anthologies. She is the author of Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press 2011) and On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015). Her research has been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, NEH, Schomburg Center for Black Culture/ NYPL, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. Currently, she is completing Carceral Aesthetics: Prison Art and Public Culture, a study of prison art and visuality. In it, she examines a range of visual art and practices emerging inside prisons and about prison life, including photography, painting, and collaborative works with arts organizations and commissioned artists.