About this conversation with Aimee Cox & Autumn Knight:
You intone, enscribe, embody, inherit, bequeath language. Your body (language) is an ode to (epi)genetics, an living archive of internal and external communication. How do you document, map, or notate the body while Performing the Archive? Communities + hierarchies, politicized + regulated, how is the body as archive performed, perceived, (Un)marked, and sustained?
A Brief Statement on the Artists Versuz Series by the series curators, Heather Hart & Jina Valentine:
“This summer, we were watching Jill Scott vs Erykah Badu on Verzuz, dancing, finding a recipe and cooking, each in our respective cities, and we felt a soothing of our souls. We felt broken from staying inside and embattled by the news. But this moment was a salve: these are musicians who have been, and remain seminal for us, they transport us, spark a soundtrack to memory. Seeing them empathize with us and with each other as we sheltered in place, they reached through digital space to create something together, and it felt like a moment we will log in our collective archive. They connected us, through our phones, tablets, laptops, desktops. All over the world, for one evening, they connected us. Folks in all of the places felt this love, mutual respect, and community despite all odds.
Prompted by this series, we considered the outer limits of what is considered a book, or specifically an artist book. Artist + book. Artist = book. And we determined that books contain language in many forms and invite a corporeal experience of media and speech acts. We considered the book as it is constitutive of the archive and as it is representative of the body (body of knowledge, extension of body).
From these considerations, we determined abstract themes for our four part series: Coded Language, Technical Writing, The Corpus (body as archive), Multivocality and Self-authorship. These categories have guided our conversations around and planning for this series. Our work as Black Lunch Table involves intentional convening of voices and care in orchestrating conversations amongst communities’ constituents. We imagine the pairings we’ve proposed for Toward Liberation (a.k.a. our Visual Artist Versuz) series will inspire new connective threads, fibers, tissues, language, volumes, binding connection.”
NOTE: This series will take place entirely online using Zoom, and will be recorded.
Special thanks to Stephen Bury, Deirdre Lawrence, David Solo, and everyone who contributed through Broadsides for Black Futures for their generous support of this series.
About the Speakers
Aimee Meredith Cox is an Anthropologist, writer, movement artist, and critical ethnographer. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Anthropology and African American Studies Departments at Yale University. Aimee’s first monograph, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke 2015), won the 2017 book award from the Society for the Anthropology of North America, a 2016 Victor Turner Book Prize in Ethnographic Writing, and Honorable Mention from the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize. She is also the editor of the volume, Gender: Space (MacMillan, 2018). Aimee is a dancer and choreographer. She performed and toured internationally with Ailey II and the Dance Theatre of Harlem and has choreographed performances as interventions in public and private space in Newark, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. Aimee is currently working on two books projects based on ethnographic research among Black communities in Cincinnati, Ohio; Jackson, Mississippi; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn. This overall project is called “Living Past Slow Death.”
Autumn Knight is an interdisciplinary artist working with performance, installation, video, and text. Drawing from her training in theatre and the psychology of group dynamics, Knight makes performances that reshape our perceptions of authority figures, power dynamics, and audience expectations of live experiences.
Her first solo museum exhibition was at Krannert Art Museum, Illinois, in 2017, titled Autumn Knight: In Rehearsal. Her work has been presented at various institutions including The Institute for Contemporary Art (VCU), Richmond, Virginia; Human Resources, Los Angeles; and Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; Project Row Houses, Houston; Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, Pittsburgh; and the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Her performance and video work are held in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Knight participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial as a performance and video artist.
OCT 14 @ 1pm: Coded language / Private language: Steffani Jemison & Jonathan Gonzalez
OCT 26 @ 1pm: Technical writing: Nontsikelelo Mutiti & Mimi Onuoha
NOV 10 @ 1pm: Body as Archive: Aimee Cox & Autumn Knight
NOV 23 @ 1pm: Collectivities + Co-authorship: The Black School & Emory Douglas
About the Curators
Heather Hart is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the power in thresholds, questioning dominant narratives and creating alternatives to them through architectures and viewer activation. Her work has received recognition and support from Anonymous Was A Woman, the Graham Foundation, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, among others. Her work has been exhibited at Queens Museum, Storm King Art Center, Kohler Art Center, NCMA, Seattle Art Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum among others. Hart received her MFA from Rutgers University and BFA from Cornish College of the Arts. She is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Rutgers.
Jina Valentine’s interdisciplinary practice is informed by the intuitive strategies of American folk artists and traditional craft techniques, and interweaves histories latent within found texts, objects, narratives, and spaces. Her practice has received recognition and support from the Graham Foundation, NC Arts Council, Art Matters, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She has exhibited at venues including The Drawing Center, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the CUE Foundation, the Elizabeth Foundation, and MCA Chicago. Jina received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon and her MFA from Stanford. She is currently an Associate Professor at SAIC in Chicago.
About Black Lunch Table
Black Lunch Table’s (BLT) primary aim is the production of discursive sites, wherein artists and local community members engage in dialogue on a variety of critical issues. BLT mobilizes a democratic rewriting of contemporary cultural history by animating discourse around and among the people living it. First staged in 2005 at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture artist residency, the project has grown by way of contributions from and collaborations with artists, digital humanities researchers, and Wikipedians. BLT currently includes two roundtable series’, an online oral history archive, and a Wikipedia initiative. Much like its creation of physical spaces that foster community and generate critical dialogue, BLT creates a digital space for art, Black studies and social justice issues.
About the Center for Book Arts
The Center for Book Arts promotes active explorations of both contemporary and traditional artistic practices related to the book as an art object. The Center seeks to facilitate communication between the book arts community and the larger spheres of contemporary visual and literary arts, while being a model organization locally, nationally, and internationally within the field. We achieve this through exhibitions, classes, public programming, literary presentations, opportunities for artists and writers, publications, and collections.