Join us for November’s Research Network meeting of talks and discussion.
Sarah Stefana Smith will present
“A Poetics of Bafflement and Queer Affect in the Work of Contemporary Black Visual Artists”
‘My presentation focuses on the artistic work of contemporary black diaspora artists who negotiate different conceptions of blackness. Through an engagement of queer affective space, I cultivate what I call a “poetics of bafflement” that works through slippages among aesthetics, blackness and desire (homoerotic and otherwise) to engage the affective and sociocultural dynamics of black belonging. Bafflement acts as a mode in which to negotiate spaces of contradiction, dis-ease and dis-satisfaction. For the purposes of this presentation, I focus on the work of Deana Lawson whose work considers the body’s ability to take up the everyday, the sexual and the abject. Not shying away from articulations between the profane and the sacred Lawson’s photography explore the interior spaces of matters of the heart—family, desire, mothering and sexuality. Yet these interior spaces make public the slipperiness of the erotic. Molding time and space in relation to moments that baffle Lawson’s work is useful in grappling with often “un/invisible economies” of relation that coalesce both and through the making, execution, content and context in which the work is received and able to circulate.’
Sarah Stefana Smith is a visual artist and scholar. Currently she is a doctoral student in the Humanities, Social Science and Social Justice in Education Department at OISE, University of Toronto. Her research considers the work of black diaspora artists (1990-present) who negotiate radically different conceptions of blackness. Taking up the work of bafflement as a means to address slippages among belonging, aesthetics and blackness—and engaging affective and sociocultural dimensions of dis-satisfaction—she examines the “door of no return” as queer assemblage space. She is currently a visiting scholar of Black Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany. Sarah holds a MFA from Goddard College in Interdisciplinary Art. As a member of Massmus Collective and La Boi Band International, respectively she received an Ontario Arts Council Grant and IdeasTap Zine submission grant in 2013. Visit her online at: www.sarahstefanasmith.com.
Our second speaker is art historian Courtney J. Martin. Courtney’s presentation is “Mark Bradford: Darkest America in Brightest London”. Mark Bradford’s work is currently on show at the White Cube, Bermondsey, London.
Courtney J. Martin is an assistant professor in the History of Art and Architecture department at Brown University. She received a doctorate from Yale University in 2009. Prior to Brown, she was an assistant professor in the History of Art department at Vanderbilt University (2010-2013); Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art at the University of California at Berkeley (2009-2010); a fellow at the Getty Research Institute (2008-2009); and a Henry Moore Institute Research Fellow (2007). She also worked in the media, arts, and culture unit of the Ford Foundation in New York on an international arts portfolio that funded major arts projects, including the Venice Biennale and Documenta. After leaving Ford, she served as a consultant for the foundation’s Gulf Coast Transformation Initiative and the Integrating the Arts and Education Initiative. In 2012, she curated a focus display of Frank Bowling’s painting at Tate Britain. This year she is working on a manuscript about British art and politics after 1968, curating an exhibition of post-minimalist art and co-editing a volume of essays on the critic/curator Lawrence Alloway.
Space is limited in the library, so if you have not already done so please book a place here.
For more information or to submit a proposal to present at future meetings, email us.