From “Black Collectivities: A Conference,” held May 3–4, 2013, at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator. This article discusses the work of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as an example of how collaboratives created by cultural practitioners of African descent have promulgated new perceptions, understandings, and forms of practice. From the context of experimental music, the article explores improvisation, concepts of phantasm and metaphor, and philosophical accounts of intentionality, social interaction, pedagogical listening, and ethics. It also describes the AACM as exemplifying a broader move by artist collectives from competition-based models of art making to more collaborative notions pursued in many segments of the African American community in ways that reflected and enacted larger societal institutional and political conceptions.

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