Accounting for Ghostly Presences: Caribbean Locale, Contemporary African Atlantic Artists and the Legacies of Slavery

Accounting for Ghostly Presences: Caribbean Locale, Contemporary African Atlantic Artists and the Legacies of Slavery

Alan Rice, Reader in American Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire

Wednesday 11 November, 17:00 - 19:00

Venue: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Room L103

Charles Clore House

17 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DR

Abstract:
This paper examines a range of contemporary African Atlantic artists whose work re-evaluates the history of slavery through dynamic artistic interventions. It will look at the way Ellen Gallagher, Godfried Donkor and Lubaina Himid use Caribbean locale or cultural indices to make art that reacts to the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and attempts to account for its horrors. It will show how the artists make imaginative play with African Atlantic survivors of the middle passage, constructing works that answer back to what Lubaina Himid has call the “invisibilising” of their lives. The works will be interpreted using a wide range of cultural theorists from Stuart Hall and Edouard Glissant to Avery Gordon, Ian Baucom and Paul Ricoeur. These dynamic artworks give voice to “unspeakable voices unspoken” in works of beauty that seem to belie their provenance in the maelstrom of the horrific trade. The paper will talk to this paradox.

Kate Quinn

Lecturer in Modern History

Institute for the Study of the Americas

Senate House

Malet St

London WC1E 7HU

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