Steven Nelson is Professor of African and African American Art and Director of the UCLA African Studies Center. He is currently the Treasurer of the National Committee for the History of Art and a member of the General Assembly of the Comité international d’histoire de l’art, and a Contributing Editor to Grove Art Online. Professor Nelson was a former president of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association; served as member of the advisory board for the for the National Gallery’s Center for Advanced Visual Study; and was Reviews Editor for Art Journal and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. His book From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture In and Out of Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2007) has won multiple awards. His writings on the contemporary and historic arts, architecture and urbanism of Africa and its diasporas, African American art history, and queer studies have appeared in anthologies and exhibition catalogues as well as in African Arts, Architecture New York (ANY), Art Bulletin, Artforum, Art Journal, Documents, Journal of Homosexuality, Museums International, New Formations, and Politique Africaine. Professor Nelson has received numerous fellowships and visiting appointments.
Houston Conwill’s Choreographed Black Histories
This lecture focuses on the artist’s conceptual installations The New Cakewalk (1988-89) and The Cakewalk Humanifesto (1989). Full of diagrams, African symbols and ideograms, references from the Chartres Cathedral and Catholic ritual, these installations are multilayered affairs that demand viewers’ mental and physical participation. With a nod to conceptual art, earth art, performance art, and informational graphics, Conwill constructs multilayered environments that highlight complex black histories and insist upon black presence. Yet at the same time, these complex worlds superimpose multiple systems of knowledge on top of one another, ultimately rendering these spaces virtually unreadable.
- Tuesday 6 March, 09:00-11:00, INHA (room Peiresc), 2 rue Vivienne 75002 Paris
The Artist as Geographer: On Mark Bradford, Moshekwa Langa, and Julie Mehretu.
This lecture investigates how each artist, as a geographer who also pays close attention to the histories of 20th-century art, plays with a mix of mediums to create monumental, fantasmic, and chaotic spaces that problematize the authority of official maps while they remap new kinds of spaces that interrogate the relationships of groups of things, peoples, and ideologies in new and, at times, uncomfortable ways.
- Friday 9 March, 11:00-13:00, EHESS (room 9), 105 bd Raspail 75006 Paris
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons: Mothers and Medium
This lecture centers on her 1998 installation Spoken Softly with Mama, part two of her series A History of People Who Are Not Heroes. The series is based on the artist’s life, family histories, and familial recollections in La Vega, a former sugar plantation in the Cuban Province of Matanzas. Campos-Pons’ relationship to this place is complicated. It is both the site of her happy childhood and the location to which her family was brought as slaves from Nigeria. Spoken Softly with Mama is family portrait and a metonym of a larger history of Afro-Cubans from the middle passage to their contemporary lives. Moreover, this is a female world that highlights the connection of women to the making and the articulation of memory.
- Tuesday 20 March, 09:00-11:00, INHA (room Peiresc), 2 rue Vivienne 75002 Paris
A Conflicted Geography: African American Artists & African Diaspora.
Among the critical questions that mark African American art historical scholarship today, the legacy of slavery and the transmission of cultural memories rooted in African traditions have emerged as some of the most loaded issues. Tracing the importance of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora in current debates has been recognized as an urgent task, which concerns critics and historians as as artists. Critical thinking on the subject is heightened by the growing breach between those who refuse to consider black art a distinct category, speaking instead to its universal experience, and voices that claim its unequivocal difference, with race at its very core.
- Thursday 29 March, 18:00, Terra Foundation for American Art, 121 rue de Lille 75007 Paris