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Visual Activism: Histories of Dance

Image credit: Faith Ringgold, Groovin’ High, 1986. 
Image credit: Faith Ringgold, Groovin’ High, 1986. 

4:00 pm | 11/12/2020 | Live on Youtube | Until 5:30 pm | 10/21/2020

Julia Bryan-Wilson and Olivia Ardui in conversation with Thomas Lax

This talk will take place on ARC’s YouTube channel, here.

From pre-Columbian ceramics, to abstract early 20th century canvases inspired by rhythms, to contemporary activist choreography, Histories of Dance illuminates the potential of dance to express physical joy and desire—and also collective anger—in the face of oppression and crisis. By looking at how bodies move together within specific political, historical, and economic contexts, the exhibition reflects how dance functions as exuberant resistance. It emphasizes self-invention and the assertive claiming of territories of Black and indigenous people moving together in space. In addition, Histories of Dance foregrounds the contribution of women, with special attention to feminist and queer work, Chilean women mourning the disappeared under Pinochet with la cueca sola, and research around pioneering female dancers, such as Josephine Baker and Analívia Cordeiro.

To mark the Histories of Dance catalog publication, join ARC for a conversation about the show with Julia Bryan-Wilson and MASP Curator Olivia Ardui. Julia and Olivia will be in conversation with Thomas Lax (Curator of Media and Performance, MoMA).

Thomas J. Lax is Curator of Media and Performance at the Museum of Modern Art. They are currently preparing the exhibition Just Above Midtown: 1974 to the Present with Linda Goode Bryant, scheduled for 2022.

Olivia Ardui is an art historian, writer and curator interested in performativity and dramaturgy in visual arts and dance. Ardui is currently Assistant Curator at Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), where she works closely with the museum’s collection and display, and on Histories of Dance and related publications.

Julia Bryan-Wilson is the Doris and Clarence Malo Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at UC Berkeley, an Adjunct Curator at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, and is also the Director of the UC Berkeley Arts Research Center.

About the Visual Activism series: How has visual culture played a role within the social movements of the last several decades, such as #BlackLivesMatter and Extinction Rebellion? How, we might ask, is activism made visible; how does it erupt (or disappear) with collective fields of vision? Drawing upon Black South African queer photographer Zanele Muholi’s term “visual activism” as a flexible rubric that encompasses both formal practices and political strategies, this series interrogates visual cultures of dissent, resistance, and protest. 

Visual Activism is sponsored in part by a Creative Discovery Grant from UC Berkeley’s Arts + Design Initiative. 


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