The Black Embodiments Studio
Winter 2018 Residency
Directed by Dr. Kemi Adeyemi
Assistant Professor of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies
The Black Embodiments Studio is a writing residency that brings graduate students from a range of disciplines and knowledge-based practices together to query how definitions of blackness are produced and expressed through visual, aural, and affective realms—engaging three domains that underwrite the physical and metaphysical dimensions of inhabiting black skin. In focusing on embodiments, plural, The Studio highlights the term as a verb that invokes activity and movement, as well as the temporary and fleeting. The language of embodiments clears space to consider the repeated, performative constitution of blackness while remaining attuned to the material consequences of being black; attending, in other words, to the traumatic legacies of being black that are continually reinvigorated by spectacular violence done to black people as much as the quotidian, often-mundane moments where blackness is produced outside of (while never being inextricable from) a rhetoric of violence.
The Black Embodiments Studio thereby provides residents a structure of support to critically engage the diverse politics, practices, and pleasures surrounding black embodiments since the 1970s. Residents are steeped in a variety of aesthetic practices including dance, visual art, sound, and new media, and critical, theoretical standpoints emanating from art history, performance studies, critical race studies, and more. Crucially, residents gain intimate access to artists, scholars, and curators invited to be “in residence” with The Studio, as their work on contemporary black embodiments models the innovation, accessibility, and criticality that residents strive for in their own writing. Guests such as the artist Liz Mputu (Fall ’17) give public presentations on their practice and participate in closed workshops with residents.
Residents of The Black Embodiments Studio will meet 5-6 times over Winter quarter in a 2- credit microseminar where they will deeply engage with innovative modes of writing and of presenting information that will enhance their critical dexterity surrounding race, blackness, and embodiments. The brief syllabus will be composed of writing that bridges academic, contemporary arts writing, and writing for the public sphere, paying particular attention to the genre of exhibition catalogs and reviews. During this time, residents will also develop and workshop at least 1 piece of short-form (600-2,000 words), publishable arts criticism concerning black embodiments, developing their writing to be accessible to multiple audiences and shaping their practice as public intellectuals. This writing is meant for outlets that press against the boundaries of academic writing, such as Performa Magazine, Art Lies, and Artforum and the journal of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Monday; but may also be incorporated into larger thesis projects or to serve as starting points for longer, scholarly peer-reviewed articles. The quarter’s guest resident is Sampada Aranke, whose book Death’s Futurity: The Visual Culture of Death in Black Radical Politics is forthcoming, and whose essays on the art of the Black Panther Party, Faith Ringgold, Saidie Barnett, David Hammons, and more have been commissioned by the Charlie James Gallery, the Tate Modern, and e-Flux, to name but a few.
While The Black Embodiments Studio centers racial blackness, The Studio will be of interest to all students invested in thinking through the intersections of racialization, visual cultures, and critical writing practices. Interested graduate students should submit a 2-page Letter of Inquiry in PDF format to Dr. Kemi Adeyemi (firstname.lastname@example.org) by December 22, 2017, 5 pm PST. This letter should detail the applicant’s own critical practice, how thinking through black embodiments may be generative to it, and what they hope to gain from the methods of engagement offered by The Studio. 10 residents will be notified of acceptance via email by January 1, 2018.