Johannesburg - Africa-born, US-based? African-American? African? American?
These are not just descriptions we ascribe to people, but also identities that people forge for themselves and the communities they relate to; these are philosophies and cooking styles, histories and futures.
So how, then, can these concepts be understood in an era that requires an identity to find your place in this world?
The Goodman Gallery, in collaboration with some of the world’s leading thinkers in the arts, is about to embark on what will surely be a landmark moment in the development of these ideas in Africa with an exhibition called Africans in America, and a concurrent academic conference called Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures – part of the In Context events due to take place in Johannesburg in November this year.
The initiative is a response, the Goodman says, to "the absence of an officially funded citywide biennial" that plays an important part in "addressing gaps in art history" and "rewriting it from diverse perspectives".
The diverse programme is being curated by American fine artist Hank Willis Thomas and the Goodman’s director, Liza Essers – two important advocates of change in the historically white contemporary arts landscape.
Black Portraitures is the seventh in the series of contentious conferences and will be convened in South Africa by Deborah Willis from New York University (incidently Willis Thomas’ inspiring mother), Henry Louis Gates Jr from Harvard University and Brett Pyper from the University of the Witwatersrand.
The event should be one of the country’s most "lit", to put it lightly, so make sure you stay up to date with the developments at goodman-gallery.com.
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