"Black Affect[s], Queer Sensibilities: Corporealities of Contestation in Contemporary Black Diaspora Work" talk by Sarah Stefana Smith
Sarah Stefana Smith
Post Doctoral Research Fellow, African American Studies
How might a consideration of affect[s] of blackness or black affect shape feeling visuality? What components of feeling through the visual disrupt the order of knowledge that marks blackness as one that measures pain, often at the expense of pleasure? It is through a consideration of the performativity of black visuality—one that is conditioned by a myriad of other performances, encounters and interpellations—that this talk considers contemporary photographic art, aesthetics and visuality in the work of Ayana V. Jackson and Zanele Muholi.
Ayana V. Jackson and Zanele Muholi consider a multitude of bodies in transition and their ability to take up the everyday, the sexual and the abject. Shaping time and space in relation to moments that baffle, Jackson and Muholi’s work grapples with often “un/invisible economies” of relation that coalesce in and through the making, execution, and context in which the work is received and circulates. A “poetics of bafflement”—a mode of theorizing that works through slippages among aesthetics, blackness and desire (homoerotic and otherwise)—engages questions of the affective and the socio-cultural that animate black life. Bafflement acts as a mode in which to negotiate spaces of contradiction, dis-ease and dis-satisfaction. Such a field of vision offers critical intervention to re-imagine black diaspora corporealities.
Sarah Stefana Smith is a visual artist, scholar and current postdoctoral fellow with the department of African American Studies and Africana Research Center at the Pennsylvania State University. She received a Ph.D. in Social Justice Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her research examines the intersections of visuality, queerness and affect in black diaspora art and culture. For more information, visit: www.sarahstefanasmith.com.