|The official booklet of "Black Portraiture [s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures" contained proposal outlines of panelists and participant biographies. Artist Kudzanai Chiurai's "Genesis XI" has the cover.|
For three marvelous days, a thundering triumphant intellectually rousing echo loud and proud in varied areas of Turbine Hall with profound black visual artists such as Hank Willis Thomas, Wangechi Mutu, Zanele Muholi, Sanford Biggers, Rashaad Newsome, and more in attendance. The Glass House, The Steam Room, The Engine Room, The Coal Hopper, and The Power House served as safe spaces to speak on art, activism, and scholarly research. This great doing must have been a frothy pipe dream coming true for a forum in its seventh cooperative, held previously in big cities such as New York City, Florence, and Paris. Fronted by Tisch Photo Department Chair Deborah Willis and Cornell University's Visual Studies Director Cheryl Finley, this juggernaut of a conference crashed down for the first time on the African continent, igniting provocative conversations marginalized bodies needed to have.
|Johannesburg's historic Turbine Hall set stage for inevitable discussions.|
|A near packed house await opening remarks.|
|Black tote bags honor Africa and those traveling from North America.|
|Deborah and Cheryl giving welcoming remarks.|
|Artist Hank Willis Thomas says, " I think of blackness as a state of mind, not a skin color."|
|Zanele Muholi was coerced onto stage to sing the South Africa anthem.|
|One of Driskell's self portraits, depicting a "positive trajectory of self."|
|Dr. Nikki Greene compared Maria Magdelena Campos Pons and Kara Walker's works based in the sugar plantations.|
In The Steam Room, "A Continent as a Woman" featured panelists discussing feminine roles in the arts. From Celia Cruz to Grace Jones, scholars and essayists presented brilliant reflections of their respective roles in the arts, their grand importance beyond using beauty.
|Adrian Loving examined the power of Queen Grace Jones. She is a bold, brazen, colorful, risk taking, androgynous, beautiful piece of glamorous history that is always ignites a fiery dialogue.|
|A promo shot of BAPS starring Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle Reid from Maisha Stephens-Teacher's "Africans As Original Hairdressers" presentation.|
Alicia Bonaparte and Andrea Chung bridged a relationship between research and art, focusing on Jamaican midwives and the OBGYN's battle to dismiss their importance.
|Another shot from Stephens-Teacher's presentation. This featured the elaborate sophistication of braided crown hairstyles-- the pure artistry and majestic design.|
|ArtNOIR Panel included Fhatuwani Mukheli, Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Milisuthando "Mili" Bongela (moderator), Lina Viktor, Itani Thalefi, and Mpumelelo Mcata.|
“At the Goodman Gallery opening last night, someone said to me, 'I want our city back',” Mili mentioned, saying that this person wasn't enjoying black American "coming home" philosophy. It was interesting, somewhat expected topic. Particular point of discussion was tough yet not packed with brutal punches. The artillery wasn't hurtful missiles launched at foreign travelers. In fact, they compared tension filled phenomenon to an awkward first date. Honest candid confession about black Americans seemingly taking over Johannesburg, with “homeland” speeches put a toll on local intellects. Yet Mili heroically salvaged the statement by insinuating that all African descendants share a mission-- to dismantle chains of colonialism ideals spread throughout the globe.
|Transcontinental relationship between African American and South Africa: South Africa is "depicted as imbibers whereas diasporic African Americans are exemplars of modernity that Africans want to emulate."|
|Lupita braiding Nontsikelelo Mutiti's hair from Vogue Magazine.|
|In every nook and cranny, gatherings were afoot.|
For a painfully shy observer, reluctance seemed to come away at the seams, tearing away to let inside new people to cherish and support; these carefree artists, these young revolutionary thinkers.
To say Black Portraiture, one of the best moments of my life, was well worth the travel is a great understatement. This mere wonderment provided more than originally hoped. Something viscid and engaging remains inside me like a precious gift. I had slowly unwrapped and kept its contents.
I truly cannot thank my supporters enough for the opportunity let alone the organizers who chose which candidates should share their wisdom and words with such an eloquent audience, what an unforgettable pleasure. Thank you to my friends, my family, Black Portraiture [s] committee ad its attendees for making my year special, for granting beautiful memories to cement forever.