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CHAPTER 5. INTEGRATING PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE: 1974–1983

Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 5

INTEGRATING PAST, PRESENT,

FUTURE: 1974–1983

u  u  u

Houston, Texas

How does one introduce the positive African

American image? One has to like oneself— one can reject the old images, but without a new image, one is lost, in chaos.

— John Biggers, telephone interview with author, Houston, July 29, 1993.

During a nearly decade-long hiatus from mural painting, John Biggers continued to draw, paint, teach, and build the art department at Texas

Southern University. Most significantly, he continued his artistic struggle to integrate African,

European, and Regionalist influences into his own visual language.

Throughout his career, one of Biggers’s goals had been to create heroic visual images—archetypes—that would provide a sense of identification for people of African descent. (fig.

5.1) Biggers noted that his mentor at Hampton

Institute, Viktor Lowenfeld, had studied with psychologist Carl Jung, and had infused his teaching with Jungian archetypal concepts. (In a primer of

Jungian Psychology, an archetype is defined as “an original model after which other things are patterned, such as birth ... hero … earth mother … trees, the sun, the moon … Archetypes are universal.” 1)

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3 Zombie Spaces

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

New York City in death was very much like New York City in life. It was still hard to get a cab, for example. The main difference was that there were fewer people.

Colson Whitehead, Zone One

Over the past decade the zombie has been transformed from a movie monster that appeared primarily in American underground cinema and Italian horror films to a ubiquitous trope in popular culture. Instantly recognizable to general global audiences, yet flexible enough to serve both as a legitimate monster and as the punch line to a bad joke, the figure of the mindless undead has clearly found resonance in late capitalist culture and has been connected to a wide range of concepts and ideas. In the same way that Marx and Engels related the system of industrial capitalism to the figure of the vampire, many critics have pointed out that our postindustrial obsession with zombies is no coincidence: “the nineteenth century, with its classic régime of industrial capitalism, was the age of the vampire, but the network society of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries is rather characterized by a plague of zombies” (Shaviro 282).

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3. Can the Artist Speak?: Hamid Kachmar's Subversive Redemptive Art of Resistance

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

JOSEPH JORDAN

I would go to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without fear…. And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.”

—AIMÉ CÉSAIRE, “NOTEBOOK OF A RETURN
TO THE NATIVE LAND”

 

Berber artists are not really concerned about personal styles; nor do they care if they are remembered as individuals. Their goals are to present personal views…expressed through the lexicon of collective memory rooted in the tradition of tying knots, combining motifs and taking care that the grammar is not breeched.

—HAMID KACHMAR, RESPONSE TO A QUESTION
ABOUT HIS MOTIVATIONS

In the fall of 2009 Hamid Kachmar, a young Moroccan artist of Amazigh heritage, was featured in a solo show in the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum located in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The mission of the Brown Gallery and the Stone Center is “to critically examine all dimensions of African American, African and African Diaspora cultures through its education program and through the formal exhibition of works of art and other items.”1

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CHAPTER FOUR: Africa and Post-Africa, 1957–1974

Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF

Africa and Post-Africa: 1957–1974

FINDING THE MISSING PIECES

CHAP TE R FOU R

I

deas for drawings originate from many sources, just as do pieces of a quilt. They might emerge from the depths of an artist’s emotional memories and fantasies or from a draftsman’s powers of observation. The drawings that have been selected for the past three chapters have been expressionistic, emotional, and have come from inner memory as much as a reporter’s observations. Throughout the

first several decades of his career, Biggers’s images were deep and somber impressions of the downtrodden, tragic expressions of the human condition. When asked about this characteristic feature of his early work, Biggers explained that he felt that it was absolutely necessary to show his feelings about what happens to people in poverty. “This to me is what art is all about—showing the spirit of man struggling above the mundane, above the material, above suffering.”1

The influence of Viktor Lowenfeld can perhaps be understood by reviewing

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2. Ghostly Stories: Interviews with Artists in Dakar and the Productive Space around Absence

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

JOANNA GRABSKI

Do we cite merely to repeat the words of the other, or do we do so in order to enact or reenact an inimitable gesture, a singular way of thinking, a unique manner of speaking? If the latter, then the quotation would in each case mark a limit, the place where the inimitable gesture of the dead friend becomes inscribed, and thus repeatable, comparable to other gestures…. Each time, citation would mark the beginning of a unique and singular life as well as its brutal interruption.

—PASCALE-ANNE BRAULT AND MICHAEL NAAS, “TO RECKON WITH THE DEAD”

Since the late 1990s, I have made several research trips to Dakar, where I re-encounter the people who have made this space meaningful and purposeful for me. Just as our re-encounters are shaped by who is present, they inevitably involve exchanges about who is absent. I have come to think of absence as an increasingly significant, if not defining, theme in my research with artists in Dakar. While an artist's absence is often attributable to travel for exhibitions or workshops, what I am talking about primarily is absence due to an artist's death.1 During one stay in Dakar, I was struck by the various ways that such absence was registered and represented in exchanges with friends and colleagues: Abdoulaye Ndoye showed me the portrait silhouette he made of the late Moustapha Dimé (Figure 2.1); Fodé Camara wore a T-shirt dedicated to memorializing Djibril Diop Mambety (Figure 2.2); Oumou Sy called for a moment of silence to honor all those no longer with us during her opening remarks for the Semaine Internationale de la Mode de Dakar; and Germaine Anta Gaye displayed the ex-voto boxes she made in homage to the late Ousmane Sembene. I take these examples to illustrate absence as a productive space that generates representational and interpretive practices. Insomuch as artists produce visual work reckoning absence, they also talk about and around it.

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