Black Visualities

The Black Visualities Initiative is directed by Tina Campt, Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Modern Culture and Media.

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Previous Events

  • April 30, 2021 | 12 pm (ET) / 6 pm (SAST)

    These words mean and remember their origins in each other, each produced by the other, each is equal to the other. In the Black Atlantic, in the Black Pacific, in the Black Mediterranean, cartography is catastrophe, catastrophe is cartography. Each contributor as academics, as poets, as artists dwelt on the movement—symbolized by the double colon between these concepts.

    Materials shared by the contributors are available at The Sojourner Project.

    Contributors include:

    Dele Adeyemo is an architect, creative director, and urban theorist. His creative and research practices interrogate the underlying drivers of architectural development and urbanisation, locating them in racialising logistical processes that orchestrate planetary patterns of life. Adeyemo’s projects mobilize a transdisciplinary Black aesthetics. Through the use of writing, film, movement and aural sensations that rupture machinic fantasies of logistics, his work uncovers the indeterminate imaginaries of Black life in Africa and the diaspora. Most recently Adeyemo has presented at the 2nd edition of the Lagos Biennial with Black Horizon (2019), and the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial with The Cosmogony of (Racial) Capitalism (2020). Adeyemo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, and leads an architecture design studio with Ibiye Camp and Damso Randulfe at the Royal College of Art in London.

    Dionne Brand is a renowned poet, novelist, and essayist known for formal experimentation and the beauty and urgency of her work. A poet engagé, Brand’s award-winning poetry books include Land to Light On (the Governor General’s Literary Award and Trillium Book Award); thirsty (The Pat Lowther Award); Ossuaries (the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize). Her latest, The Blue Clerk, an essay poem, won the Trillium Book Award. Theory, her latest of five novels, won the Toronto Book Award. She is the author of the influential nonfiction work, A Map to the Door of No Return. Her most recent non-fiction work is An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading. Brand is Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

    Kevin Adonis Browne is a Caribbean American photographer, writer, and speaker, whose visual and written work exists at the intersection of fine art photography and memoir. He is the author of two books: Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture, and the Anglophone Caribbean (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) and HIGH MAS: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). He has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bentley University, The University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, and is currently Associate Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition at Syracuse University.

    Torkwase Dyson is a painter whose compositions address the continuity of space, movement, ecology, and architecture. Examining black geographies, Dyson’s objects consider black liberation and industrial precariousness. The work invites questions of distance, embodiment and perception. Torkwase Dyson was born in Chicago and spent her developmental years between North Carolina and Mississippi. Traversing these geographies helped develop formal and conceptual concerns of black spatial liberation strategies. In 2020, Dyson’s solo exhibitions included Black Compositional Thought | 15 Paintings for the Plantationocene presented by the New Orleans Museum of Art and I Can Drink the Distance, Plantationocene in Two Acts on view at Pace Gallery New York. Dyson lives in New York and is represented by Pace.

    Canisia Lubrin is a writer, poet, editor, and teacher. Lubrin, is the author of Voodoo Hypothesis (W&W, 2017), which was named a CBC Best Book, The Dyzgraphxst (M&S, 2020) and the forthcoming collection of fiction, Code Noir.

    Danai Mupotsa is a senior lecturer in the Department of African Literature at Wits. She describes herself as a feminist teacher and researcher. In 2018, she published her debut collection of poetry, feeling and ugly with impepho press. Her work specializes in a range of subjects that include gender and sexualities, black intellectual traditions and histories, intimacy and affect, popular culture, and feminist pedagogies.

    Christina Sharpe is a writer and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Department of Humanities at York University. She is the author of: In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press, 2016) and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (Duke University Press, 2010). Her third book, Ordinary Notes, will be published in 2022 (Knopf/FSG/Daunt). She is also working on a monograph called “Black. Still. Life.

    Hosted by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities’ Black Visualities Initiative under the leadership of Tina Campt, and presented collaboratively with The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD) at the University of Johannesburg and Art for Humanity at Durban University of Technology, with the support of the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM).

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  • February 25, 2021 | 12pm (EST) / 7pm (SAST)

    Deborah A. Thomas, University of Pennsylvania
    Gabrielle Goliath, Artist, Johannesburg, South Africa
    Savannah Shange, University of California-Santa Cruz
    Khwezi Mkhize, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Though sovereignty has become something of a disavowed category within Black Studies, it remains conceptually and materially pertinent for Black people across many locations (for those in the so-called “post”-colonial world, of course, and also for those in majority Black spaces). Many of us are obsessed with sovereignty and with what sovereignty feels like, but this obsession is not one that is framed by the state, or within the parameters of its institutions. For us, the point of bearing witness to state violence (and other forms of violence), of creating different archives and affective relationships to violence, is to chart new terrain upon which sovereignty can be elaborated and radiated. We are always imagining something that looks like sovereignty, and if it feels out of reach we are compelled to reach toward it anyway. Sovereignty cannot be disavowed as either false consciousness or ontological impossibility, as these frames rely too heavily upon masculinist notions of revolution and human-ness. Instead, we want to privilege the ephemeral, the performative, the affective, the non-linear and unexpected ways something that feels like sovereignty circulates and is transmitted from one to another. This sovereignty is not an event; there is not a moment when we will be able to point to something and identify its achievement. Instead, it is constantly in process; it is both internal and communal; it both frames and enacts love and response-ability.

    Materials shared by Sovereignty presenters, Deborah Thomas, Gabrielle Goliath, Savannah Shange and Khwezi Mkhize are available at

    Watch this conversation on YouTube.

    Hosted by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities’ Black Visualities Initiative under the leadership of Tina Campt, and presented collaboratively with The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD) at the University of Johannesburg and Art for Humanity at Durban University of Technology, with the support of the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM).

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  • November 20th 2020 | 12pm (EST) / 7pm (SAST)

    Materials shared by Tina Campt, Zara Julius, Jenn Nkiru, and Alexander Weheliye are available at

    What does frequency offer us as a framework for understanding black life? What insights does it provide for responding to anti-blackness? And how might it help us to see, hear, and feel the power of black life’s irrepressible drive toward creating a different kind of futurity?

    At a moment of transnational racial reckoning, this listening session explored black frequency as a site of possibility. It engaged black frequency in multiple forms: as a sonic space that ranges from silence to deafening, dissonant noise; as a register of ecstatic rapture and spirituality; as a temporal feedback loop of memory, repetition, and renewal; as a dynamic relation of call and response, or chorus and verse; as a haptic and kinetic space of contact and connection across the African continent and its various diasporas.

    Frequencies of Blackness is an invitation to explore black frequency through dialogue on sight, sound, memory, movement, and connection. The conveners of the session, Tina Campt, Zara Julius, Jenn Nkiru, and Alexander Weheliye, assembled a collection of sonic and haptic, written and visual texts that enact black frequency in a multitude of ways.

    Watch this conversation on YouTube.

    Hosted by the Black Visualities Initiative of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, and presented collaboratively with The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD) at the University of Johannesburg and Art for Humanity at Durban University of Technology, with the support of the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM).

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  • October 14, 2020

    How do black collectivity and queer intimacy refuse the category of property? What is made possible when we imagine the tradition of black radicalism as continuous, collective work rather than an inheritance in which individuals accumulate knowledge, or become subjects of history? In this tradition, could we exist together across time, outside the patrimony of ownership or the lure of emancipation as “something akin to freedom” as described by Harriet Jacobs?

    Artist Cameron Rowland and MoMA curator Thomas Lax addressed these questions in a webinar moderated by Tina Campt (Brown University) and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (RISD) on October 14, 2020. They spoke together about their collaboration and work. 

    Watch the conversation on YouTube.

    Presented by the Brown Arts Initiative and Black Visualities Initiative at the Cogut Humanities Institute, with additional support from the Rhode Island School of Design and the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration at Yale University. 

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  • The Third Part of the Third Measure by the Otolith Group (2017, 45 minutes) is an audiovisual composition commissioned by ICA Philadelphia and Sharjah Art Foundation. Described as “an experience of watching in the key of listening,” the composition focuses on the militant minimalism of avant-garde composer, pianist, and vocalist Julius Eastman (1940–1990) and the exemplary ecstatic aesthetics of black radicalism. It invokes political feelings of defiance and the collective practice of movement building that participates in the global struggles against neoreactionary authoritarianism. Read more.

    The screening was followed by a conversation with London-based filmmakers Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, founders of the Otolith Group, and Rizvana Bradley, Art Historian at Yale University. 

    Watch the conversation on YouTube.

    This event was presented by the Black Visualities Initiative as part of the collaborative humanities graduate seminar “The Visual Frequency of Black Life.”

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  • Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies and Professor of American Studies Emerita at Yale University, participated in a panel discussion of her recent book, Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands (Verso, 2019) with Saidiya Hartman (English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University), Brian Meeks (Africana Studies, Brown University), Dixa Ramírez D’Oleo (American Studies and English, Brown University), and Deborah Thomas (Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania).

    Imperial Intimacies “untangles the threads connecting members of her family in a web woven by the British Empire across the Atlantic … Moving between Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.”

    Watch the panel on YouTube.

    This event was convened byTina Campt, Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Modern Culture and Media, and presented as part of the Black Visualities Initiative.

    Co-sponsored by Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and Department of Africana Studies.

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