This talk explores aspects of my book, Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism (Duke University Press, February 2021). It offers an investigation of how Caribbean and American artists of the early twentieth century were responding to the colonial and hegemonic regimes through visual and performative tropicalist representation. It privileges the land and how a sense of place is critical in the identity formation of early twentieth-century artists as well as their creative processes. By proposing an alternative understanding of the tropics, this talk demonstrates how Wifredo Lam and Josephine Baker effectively contributed to the development of Black modernity, and even Black sonic modernity. They employed what I call “tropical aesthetics” in an effort to enact the naming of place. Tropical aesthetics allows for a critical imaging and reclaiming of space and proves how through art one can reify social geographies in order to have a sense of place, a rootedness that is desired in order to attain some semblance of sovereignty. https://www.dukeupress.edu/tropical-aesthetics-of-black-modernism
Samantha A. Noël is an Associate Professor of Art History and the Hawkins Ferry Endowed Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art at Wayne State University. She received her B.A. in Fine Art from Brooklyn College, C.U.N.Y., and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from Duke University. Noël’s book, Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism (Duke University Press, February 2021), investigates how Caribbean and American modern artists responded to colonial and hegemonic regimes through visual and performative tropicalist representation.
Presented by African American & African Diaspora Studies Department (AAADS) Columbia University and the Department of Art History and Archaeology - Columbia University
Fall Semester Events co-sponsors: Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University (IRAAS); Center for the Study of Ethnicity & Race-Columbia University (CSER); Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation- Columbia University (GSAPP); Institute for Comparative Literature & Society-Columbia University (ICLS); Institute for the Study of Sexuality & Gender-Columbia University (ISSG); The School of the Arts-Columbia University (SOA)