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(Re)Visioning Her-Story: The Black Female Body in Black Female Imagination

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National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Avenue Southwest

Washington, DC 20560

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How do contemporary black women artists deal with the past without dwelling in it?

How do they respond to problematic stereotypes without reinforcing them?

How do they negotiate whiteness without compromising blackness?

Must they choose? Must they all be feminists? Apologists? Activists?

What stories are they telling, what strategies are they using, and why?




Whether undressed or dressed, black women artists are producing provocative images of the black female body that reveal much about how they imagine themselves and how they perceive themselves imagined. What do these images reveal about materiality, gender, identity, race and representation in societies with legacies of racial oppression? What do they suggest about the boundary conditions of the black female imagination?

On October 25, at the National Museum of African Art, Mary Sibande and Ayana V. Jackson will explore these questions and more as they join with Panashe Chigumadzi and Lanisa Kitchiner to discuss the politics, processes and practices that they engage as contemporary black women artists in these times of increased racial tensions in South Africa and the United States. The artists will discuss how they negotiate between the intention and the impact of their creative works; how they navigate the exclusive art world; and how they use black female bodies – particularly their own – to create alternative visions of black womanhood





Mary SIBANDE (Visual Artist; South Africa) will receive the Smithsonian Institution’s 2017 African Art Award. Her work investigates personal and political histories in order to upend power dynamics and reveal the true power of often-overlooked women. Her life-size sculptures transform women in traditional domestic worker’s uniforms into super “she-roes,” conquerors, and belles of the ball

Ayana V. JACKSON (Photographer; United States/South Africa/France) is a photographer whose work examines the complexities of photographic representation and the role of the camera in constructing identity. Using reportage, performance and studio-based portraiture, her practice can be seen as a map of the ethical considerations and relationships involved between the photographer, subject and viewer

Panashe CHIGUMADZI (Novelist, Essayist; South Africa/Zimbabwe) is the author of the novel Sweet Medicine, which won the 2016 K. Sello Duiker Literary Award; a short story, “Small Deaths,” was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Literary Prize. She is the founding editor of Vanguard Magazine, a platform for black women in post-apartheid South Africa.

Lanisa KITCHINER (Arts Administrator, Academic; United States) directs Education and Scholarly Initiatives at the National Museum of African Art. Her research focuses on the representation of black women in African literature, film, and visual art.

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National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Avenue Southwest

Washington, DC 20560

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