Previously at the ICA - Events

Ralph Ellison, Prologue to Invisible Man

Transpersonal: Rizvana Bradley

15 Mar 2017

The Dematerialization of the Book in the Event of Black Aesthetics  

This presentation by Rizvana Bradley focuses on Glenn Ligon’s 1992 Untitled series of four etchings and aquatints, his transposition of the writings of Ralph Ellison as well as the words of the Harlem renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston: “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a white background.”  

Ligon’s transposition projects Hurston onto our historical time. Ligon’s work, which is consistently understood as abstract, opens up to a complex historiography and genealogy of diaspora that figuratively retraces Hurston’s legacy. The palimpsestic quality of Ligon’s paintings betray the complexity of racial and sexual difference as the condition of possibility for (black) abstraction. The presentation interrogates the distinction between the white background/surface and the dark material stain of the foreground, specifically the idea that, in Slavoj Žižek's words, the “white background is the liberated space in which nothingness can appear”; Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915), as well as Ad Reinhardt and Robert Motherwell’s experiments with black paintings therefore become prime references. The presentation culminates in a meditation on the conditions for appearance, visibility, invisibility and form, in relation to the notion of aesthetic blackness elaborated most explicitly by Fred Moten.   

Rizvana Bradley is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies, as well as African American Studies, at Yale University. A graduate of Williams College, she received her PhD from Duke University, and was a Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Currently she is a visiting Research Fellow in the History of Art at University College London. As a manuscript, her forthcoming book, Resurfaced Flesh: Black Aesthetics Unbound, received a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. In addition to serving as guest editor of a special issue of the journal Women and Performance, Bradley has published articles in TDR, Rhizomes and Black Camera: An International Film Journal, and she was also recently appointed Assistant Editor at the journal boundary 2.  

Transpersonal: art and life directives is a lecture series on the theory and application of art and design, curated and convened by Dr. Stephen Wilson. It is staged in collaboration with the ICA and the Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon College of Arts postgraduate community at the University of the Arts London.

The term transpersonal explores interpersonal relationships and communities, specifically forms of relation that break down the boundaries of the self. Over the course of ten lectures, this series explores a number of directives that aim to produce techniques, crafts, states of mind and forms of awareness related to psychosocial care. Drawing on critical developments in design, psychology, feminism, dance, anthropology, art theory, robotics and media studies, the series reassesses the value of cultural expressions and experiences to reconsider these experiences as "transpersonal responsibility".

In partnership with


E.g., 10-06-2019
E.g., 10-06-2019