musée du quai Branly- Jacques Chirac

African-American artists and the Color Line

Histories, Genealogies, Forms, Gestures

Give music a chance

This international conference is organised in partnership between the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and the Université de Rennes 2, with additional support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, on the occasion of the exhibition "The Color Line: African-American Artists and Segregation" at the museum.

Integrating the collective memory of the black community in to the study of the work by African-American artists, particularly in light of the historical role of slavery and segregation in the United States, has become a necessity in a cultural context in which plurality paradoxically signifies both unison and isolation. Inequalities regarding public reception, insufficient understanding of the consequences of the traumas of slavery, the co-existence of a dual African and European heritage, and inadequate access to media and means of distribution have formed some of the major themes that have marked African-American art since the end of the nineteenth century until today. Entangled within these contradictions and rich with experiences that blend global awareness, political engagement, artistic creation, and local knowledge, African-American artists have maintained a production conscious of the limits to which they have been subjected while at the same time highlighting the possibility of transcending them. Their artistic expressions have coexisted with militant gestures and connections to historically and spiritually significant domains in order to make way for a creative freedom unique in the history of art, wherein radicalness becomes form, silence becomes sound, and the invisible becomes visual.

Examining the practices of African-American artists from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries through the lens of historical, aesthetic, and political concerns, this symposium proposes to rethink this art history in consideration of current research. We will explore questions regarding the manner in which various official cultural policies have attempted to maintain the specificity of the African-American case while at the same time producing disparities and distinctions that exclude the possibility of mainstream readings of these artists. Art historians, museum curators, theorists, critics, and artists will consider the compartmentalisation in which African-American art has long found itself, while thinking closely about the possibility of breaking through these barriers. We will explore questions regarding the manner in which various official cultural policies have attempted to maintain the specificity of the African-American case while at the same time producing disparities and distinctions that exclude the possibility of mainstream readings of these artists.

Thanks to the presence of objects and documents in "THE COLOR LINE: African-American Artists and Segregation" that will be presented in France for the first time, the critical and theoretical propositions raised at this symposium will directly resonate with work by African-American artists.

  • Categorie : Symposia
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    Scientific Committee

    • Daniel Soutif, Curator of the exhibition The Color Line
    • Elvan Zabunyan, Professor, Université Rennes 2
    • Sarah Frioux-Salgas, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
    • Gilles Mouëllic, Professor, Université Rennes 2
    • Frédéric Keck, Director of the Department of Research and Education, musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac

    Organising Committee

  • Place:   Théâtre Claude Lévi-Strauss
  • Pickup location:  Théâtre Claude Lévi-Strauss
  • TimeSlots:
    The Friday 13 January 2017 from 14:00 to 18:30

    The Saturday 14 January 2017 from 09:30 to 18:30
  • Accessibility:
    • Handicap visuel
    • Handicap auditif bim (T)
    • Handicap moteur
  • Public:   Researcher, student, All publics
  • Free entry (subject to available places)
    Gratuit (dans la limite des places disponibles)

Around the event

Guided tours, workshops, concerts, etc.
all activities organized as part of the event

Around the event

Terra Foundation for American Art