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julia elizabeth neal - Transnational Scholarship: Performance, Race, and Archives

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mar 02

Thu, Mar 2 2023, 5PM - 6:30PM

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Part of event series: VISUAL & CRITICAL STUDIES FORUM | 2022/2023 SERIES

julia elizabeth neal

Organized by

CCA Graduate Visual & Critical Studies

Event description

Between 1988 to 1992, Benjamin Patterson lived between two nations–the United States and Germany–in anticipation of developing his international, globetrotting art career. In addition, these years demarcate Patterson’s gradual re-commitment to performance art and expressions of Fluxus at the turn of the century. His peripatetic, bi-continental lifestyle was as much a direct function of asserting hypervisibility in response to historical erasure as it was a refusal of the precarity facing most artists stateside. Patterson’s pursuit of international audiences and communities actively engenders multinational and spatiosocial relationships that require observers and scholars to deconstruct implicit and explicit nationalist biases. This talk will consider three cases in which the artist’s movement calls for a language and interpretive framework beyond the rhetoric of escape. I highlight how Patterson’s claim to multiple centers connects to an ideological act of self-possession. By emphasizing the usability of transnational scholarship to recover his history, I will also explore the necessity for addressing scholarly positionality to place and its impact on his work, identity, and the site specificity of archives.

julia elizabeth neal (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art of the United States at the University of Michigan. She concentrates on conceptual, sonic, and performance-based practices by artists of African descent. In her research, neal attends to critical intersections between the visual, the politics of identity and (trans)nationalism since the postwar era. Her scholarship considers the centrality of the nation state to art and politics, as well as sound art, and gaming as alternative platforms for abstract thought and perception. She incorporates archival study, critical historiography, deconstruction, and critical race theory to investigate problematics of power and representation.

neal’s book project extends from her dissertation on the intermedia art praxis of Benjamin Patterson, which historicizes his commitment to deconstructing sociocultural perceptions and value systems as he sought alternative strategies for artistic and social criticality. Her research on the artist is supported by the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Getty Research Institute, the Terra Foundation for American Art and Spelman College. In collaboration with the Estate of Benjamin Patterson, neal published Performance Works within the State of Benjamin Patterson: A Catalogue Raisonné Volume I in 2021. Her writings on Black artists can be found in journals and exhibition catalogues, including Texte zur Kunst, all-over Magazin für Kunst und Äesthetik, Telfair Museums, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and caa-reviews. In 2023, neal is contributing an article on Benjamin Patterson to Harald Kisiedu’s and George Lewis’ forthcoming anthology, Afrodiasporic Contemporary Composers: An Untold History, with Wolke Verlag.

Entry details

Free and open to the public.