How do we engage a contemporary visual archive of blackness that is saturated by the proliferation and mass circulation of images of violence, antiblackness, and premature death? This article explores the labor required by visual enactments of black precarity in the work of filmmaker and cinematographer Arthur Jafa. The labor of black precarity—specifically, the work required to cultivate, maintain, or articulate our relationship to black precarity—is the effort required to position oneself in proximity to, or in a place of discomfort and, for some, potential complicity with, black precarity. The article stages an encounter with the affective registers of refusal enacted in a genre of black visuality defined as still-moving-images. Still-moving-images hover between still and moving images and require the affective labor of feeling with or through them. The article concludes by expanding the discussion of Jafa’s still-moving-images into a broader enunciation of the author’s theory of hapticity, a term that articulates the labor of feeling across difference and suffering as an effortful practice of exertion and struggle to remain in relation to or in contact or connection with another.
The Visual Frequency of Black Life: Love, Labor, and the Practice of Refusal
Tina M. Campt is Owen F. Walker ’33 Professor of Humanities and professor of modern culture and media at Brown University. She is a research associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her books include Other Germans (2004), Image Matters (2012), and Listening to Images (2017).
Tina M. Campt; The Visual Frequency of Black Life: Love, Labor, and the Practice of Refusal. Social Text 1 September 2019; 37 (3): 25–46. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-758503
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