CIHA 2016 in Beijing
34th World Congress of Art HistoryAbout History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed
Afrofuturism Facing Conflict: Encounters Between Lebo Ntladi’s thebeautifulonesarehere and Tim Stüttgen’s QuAre Assemblages
Session 10 Gendered Practices
Institute for Queer Theory
This talk stages an encounter between Tim Stüttgen’squeer reading of Afrofuturism and recent artistic strategies of the young South African artist Kelebogile (Lebo) Ntladi. Bringing the two together concretizes what is then called a “quare” rather than a queer critique of stable identity categories. This critique acknowledges the relevance of racialized and classed positions in queer politics. However, I argue, it is necessary to explore whether and how this is displayed as a field of conflict. Concerning Ntladi’s work I focus on a series of portraits called thebeautifulonesarehere (2014), which the artist themselves sees in the tradition of Afrofuturism. The portraits take the form of colorful collages, arranging snippets of photographs of landscapes and city life, bodies and objects,into the clear-cut shape of head and shoulders. This technique blurs the boundaries between the individual and its context, between human and animal, pleasure and violence, and thus invites viewers to enter transtemporal and heterotopian spaces.Considering the chronopolitics of Afrofuturism and combining it with the notion of quAre assemblages that German cultural theorist Tim Stüttgen draws from Queer of Color theories by Cathy Cohen, Patrick E. Johnson, and José Esteban Muñoz, I will argue thatNtladi’sthebeautifulonesarehereallows to face socio-political, biographical and psychic conflicts, which would otherwise perpetuate their histories of violence.
Antke Engel is director of the Institute for Queer Theory in Berlin; a site where academic debate meets up with political activism and artistic/cultural practices (www.queer-institut.de). She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Potsdam University and works as independent scholar in the fields of queer, feminist and poststructuralist theory, political philosophy, and visual cultural studies. She held visiting professorships at Hamburg University (2003/2005) and at Vienna University (2011), and a research fellowship at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI-Berlin, 2007-2009). She has published numerous essays and the two monographs: Wider die Eindeutigkeit (The Strategy of Equivocation, 2002) and Bilder von Sexualität und Ökonomie (Images of Sexuality and Economy, 2009). Together with Jess Dorrance she initiated the curatorial project Bossing Images: The Power of Images, Queer Art, and Politics (2012-2014: www.bossingimages-blog.tumblr.com).