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Research Activities

BLACK PORTRAITURE{S} II: Imagining the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories

May 28 - 31, 2015 in Florence, Italy


The conference and exhibition will offer comparative perspectives on the historical and contemporary role played by photography, art, film, literature, and music in referencing the image of the black body in the West. It will be held in Florence, Italy, in May 28-31, 2015—as a sequel to five conferences held over the past six years. The most recent conference in the series was held in Paris, France in January 2013, where it attracted over 400 attendees. As on those occasions, the sixth conference will bring together artists and scholars from an assortment of disciplines and practices, including art history, fashion, dance, theater, and studio art, in wide-ranging conversations about imaging the black body. In this context, “Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories,” explores the impulses, ideas, and techniques undergirding the production of self-representation and desire, and the exchange of the gaze from the 19th century to the present day in fashion, film, art, and the archives.

In conjunction with the conference, the exhibition, ReSignifications, curated by New York University Professor Awam Amkpa, will be openMay 30th to August 29th 2015. The exhibition is an inter-artistic re-staging of European 17-19th century objects of decorative arts loosely termed ‘Blackamoors’, through works that foreground African and African Diasporic bodies as heterogeneous subjects of history and culture. It includes the blackamoors alongside contemporary re-stagings of black African bodies as subjects of varieties of contemporary art by artists working in Europe, Africa and the Americas. ‘ReSignifications’ brings together these artists in a critical dialogue with artifacts that objectify black bodies, as well as those that portray black subjectivity. The exhibition will intersect with the conference papers in order to enhance the discussion among scholars, visual and performing artists, writers, historians, arts administrators, curators, legal scholars, students and the general public.

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Digital Archiving Projects


Audio Visual Preservation Exchange (APEX): Ghana

APEX in Ghana partnered with the Real Life Documentary Festival, the West African Documentary Forum and NYU in Ghana to hold a series of audiovisual preservation events in Accra, Ghana.

Photo Exhibitions

AndrewDosunmu.gif©ANDREW DOSUNMU

AFRICA: SEE YOU SEE ME Photography Exhibition & Global Tour

Curated by Director of Africana Studies &  Tisch School’s Associate Professor of Drama, Dr. Awam Amkpa
Associate Curator: Madala Hilaire

The exhibition highlights the history of African photography on the continent as well as in the Diaspora. In efforts to create an open dialogue, Africa: See You, See Me! features artists from a range of countries including Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, South Africa, Portugal, Italy, USA, and a host of others. Bringing together images of Africa from African & non-African photographers, the exhibit showcases how Africans view themselves when they are left in charge of creating/showcasing Africa’s image for global consumption juxtaposed with how non-Africans create & showcase the image of Africa for global consumption.


Africa: See You, See Me! has embarked on a global tour with its first stop in Lisbon, Portugal in Fall 2010. The exhibit is slated for stops in Florence, Italy (Spring 2011); Rome, Italy (Spring 2011); Beijing, China (Spring 2011); Accra, Ghana (TBA); Lagos, Nigeria (TBA); and New York City (TBA), with many more cities to follow.


Film Festivals

reallife11.gif6th Annual Real Life Documentary Film Festival in Accra, Ghana, October 1-4, 2011

The Real Life Documentary Festival was launched on May 20, 2006 as “an annual film festival dedicated to documentary films based on the histories, peoples, heroes, cities and locations of African and diasporic African communities.

The 2011 RealLife festival offers an enticing choice of films. Beyond the screening, RealLife is also offering an invaluable service to the film industry in Africa with its master classes to be given by distinguished guest directors/technicians. Other valuable aspects of the program include an increasing emphasis on archival workshops especially dedicated to the restoration and preservation of films.

Program Schedule (requires Acrobat Reader).