Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s
Kobena Mercer is Professor of History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University. He is author of Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies, editor of Cosmopolitan Modernisms, among other titles, and an inaugural recipient of the 2006 Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing.
Busy in the Ruins of Wretched Phantasia
Written for a 1995 group exhibition on contemporary artists who have engaged Frantz Fanon’s psychoanalytic study of colonialism, this chapter examines practices that address the ambivalent mix of fear and fantasy driving the political technology of the stereotype as it fixes sexualized meanings around representations of the black body. Differentiating strategies in image-text work by Mitra Tabrizian, Adrian Piper, Donald Rodney, and Carrie Mae Weems; performative photographic tableaux by Ajamu and Lyle Ashton Harris; the questioning of self-portraiture in Sonia Boyce’s collages and Glenn Ligon’s pastiche notices for runaway slaves; film essays by Ngozi Onwurah, Raoul Peck, and Marlon Riggs,...