March 3, 2021 – Grégory Pierrot

Grégory Pierrot
President, Amiri Baraka Society
Associate Professor, English Department
University of Connecticut at Stamford

From Rude Boys to Proud Boys: A Short History of Hip, Fashion and Fascism

The presidential debates and the subsequent failed coup of January 6th made a household name of the Proud Boys, the militia created by journalist-turned-fascist-goon Gavin McInnes. Seemingly diverse in its membership, claiming “Western chauvinism” rather than white supremacism, the Proud Boys and their intentions may seem puzzling from the outside. Still, recent events have convincingly exposed their commitment to fascist action and beliefs. 21st American fascism is a self-aware structure, powered by an engine dedicated to whitewashing the cultural references that fuel it. This presentation proposes a diagnostic.

(Group photo of 60s/70s rude boys/skinheads taken by Toni Tye. Photo of Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys taken by Maranie R. Staab).

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March 10, 2021 – Ellie Ga

American artist, writer and performer

Strophe: A Screening and Studio Visit with Ellie Ga

Strophe, a Turning is Ellie Ga’s ode to a message in a bottle. The video lets drifting objects carry her unexpectedly to the Greek island of Symi, and then to the shores of its neighbor Lesvos where she joins a team of volunteers aiding asylum seekers and refugees. The poetics of accidental drift turn into an urgent reckoning with political and humanitarian reality.

Co-sponsored by the Special Collections Department

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March 17, 2021 – Alicia Caticha

Assistant Professor
Department of Art History
Northwestern University

“Sculpting Whiteness on the Eighteenth-Century Dining Table”

With the emergence of material culture studies, the eighteenth-century aristocratic dining table has become an important locus for understanding the history of porcelain, French culinary practices, and modes of elite sociability, yet little has been written on the intermingling materials used to create these elaborate tablescapes. With the advent of biscuit soft-paste porcelain at the Sèvres Royal Porcelain Manufactory, matte white unglazed statuettes were placed side by side expensive sugar sculptures as the centerpieces of elite dining tables. The replication of whiteness—the primary characteristic aesthetically linking porcelain and sugar—has been read as evidence of the prevailing importance of Academic sculpture and the explicit antique connotations of marble. However, the eighteenth century’s fetishization of porcelain and the violent conditions of sugar’s production must be put in dialogue with the white forms adorning the dinner tables of the aristocratic elite. In doing so, this paper argues that the replication of whiteness in materials with colonial and imperialist histories alludes to a deeper political and social ideology of a society attempting to assert ideas of racial difference and hierarchy while simultaneously representing the expanding global purview of eighteenth-century Europe.

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March 24, 2021 – nia love and Lela Aisha Jones

g1(host): a series 7 years in the making: An Open Forum & Performance Research Virtual Tour with nia love and Lela Aisha Jones

nia love is a dancer and choreographer based in New York City. She is a radical thinker, artist, performer and professor that focuses on Modern dance, Post-Modern dance, and West African dance.

Lela Aisha Jones is Assistant Professor of Dance at Bryn Mawr College

Co-sponsored by the Dance & 360 Programs.

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April 14, 2021 – Julien Suaudeau

Lecturer in French and Francophone Studies
Director of Film Studies
Bryn Mawr College

The Politics of Art and Race in France

On the walls of the National Assembly in Paris, a fresco commemorates the first abolition of slavery in France (1794). Why is this piece using the codes of racist iconography? The presentation will explain how the painting has remained on display for 30 years, although it seems to be defeating its own symbolic purpose. Exploring the multiple layers of denial that protect this “work of art”, we will highlight its organic connection with the repression of France’s colonial history and with the post-racial utopia that the country has built for itself.

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September 23, 2020 – Carrie Anderson

Assistant Professor
Department of History of Art and Architecture
Middlebury College

Textiles and Trade in the Dutch Atlantic World: Albert Eckhout’s African Man and Woman

Art historians have largely abandoned the notion that Dutch artist Albert Eckhout’s (1610-1665) series of so-called ethnographic portraits—today in the National Museum of Denmark—offer transparent portrayals of the people with whom the Dutch had contact in New Holland, the name given to the northeast region of Brazil during Dutch occupancy (1630-1654). Instead, scholars have more recently posited nuanced and careful critiques of these paintings that identify and challenge the Eurocentric assumptions and hierarchies integral to the conception and interpretation of the series.  Acknowledging the critical importance of these studies, this talk seeks to reframe the parameters of the discussion by reestablishing the crucial connections between material culture and cultural identity—which are evident even when bound by the pictorial conventions of oppressive colonial forces.  Drawing from global, material culture, and literary studies, this talk will focus on the blue-and-white textiles worn by Eckhout’s African figures, garments that gesture towards the complexities of Dutch global trade networks, but also make visible the complex negotiations that informed cultural identities in the early modern Atlantic world.

September 30, 2020 – Anthony Petro

Associate Professor of Religion and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Department of Religion
Boston University

Provoking Religion: The Aesthetics of Literalism and the Queer Arts of Myth in the U.S. Culture Wars

This talk begins with a simple enough question: when is a cross a cross, and when is it a gauntlet thrown in the infamous battles of the U.S. culture wars? How does an image come to offend, who does it offend, and why? During the height of the U.S. culture wars in the 1980s and 1990s, a number of conservative Christian leaders attacked art dealing with issues of religion, gender, and sexuality as pornographic or sacrilegious, if not specifically anti-Christian. Indeed, a number of artists, including Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, Karen Finley, and David Wojnarowicz, drew upon aesthetic forms borrowed from the rich visual and ritual history of Christianity, and of Roman Catholicism specifically, often in ways that seemed to profane religious symbols. This talk focuses on the work of artist and author David Wojnarowicz and his legal battles of Christian Right leader Donald Wildmon to examine the contours of such debates. It asks how we might read such episodes not as typical culture wars battles pitting religious conservatives against secular progressives, but rather as competing struggles to define the place of religion and art in the public sphere.