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Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories is the sixth in a series of highly successful conferences staged by New York University (NYU) in collaboration with Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.  This conference will bring together artists and scholars from an assortment of disciplines and practices, including art history, fashion, performance, and fine art, in wide-ranging conversations about the historical and contemporary ways in which the black body has been imagined in the West.

The art and politics of representing blackness have generated global sites of examination and contestation. This year’s conference will strike an innovative note by including a focus on depictions of the black body within the art collections of NYU’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy. These assets include a collection of sculptures and paintings representing ornamental black images that have come to be known as “Blackamoors.” These images present an opportunity to deconstruct, compare, and contextualize the myriad portrayals of the black body in western societies from multidisciplinary angles. The more recent universality of black culture and its global presence have heightened the visibility of the black body in international sports, music, fashion, and the visual arts, with implications worthy of much critique. In this context,Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging “Ornamental Blackness” in History, explores the impulses, ideas, and techniques undergirding the production of images of desire and self-representation, and the exchange of the gaze from the 18th century to the present day.

In conjunction with the conference, the exhibition, ReSignifications, curated by New York University Professor Awam Amkpa, will be open May 28th to June 29th 2015 in 3 venues across Florence. The exhibition is an inter-artistic re-staging of European 17-19th century objects of decorative arts loosely termed ‘Blackamoors’, through works that foreground African and African Diasporic bodies as heterogeneous subjects of history and culture. It includes the blackamoors alongside contemporary re-stagings of black African bodies as subjects of varieties of contemporary art by artists working in Europe, Africa and the Americas. ‘ReSignifications’ brings together these artists in a critical dialogue with artifacts that objectify black bodies, as well as those that portray black subjectivity. The exhibition will intersect with the conference papers in order to enhance the discussion among scholars, visual and performing artists, writers, historians, arts administrators, curators, legal analysts, students and the general public.

Event Free and Open to the Public.  For more information, please click on the registration button and visit the NYU Tisch Department of Photography & Imaging webpage.”

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