Alleviative Objects

Intersectional Entanglement and Progressive Racism in Caribbean Art

The global field of contemporary art is shaped by inter-racial conflicts. Alleviative Objects approaches Caribbean art through intersectional entanglements and combines decolonial epistemologies with critical whiteness studies and affect theory in order to rethink `Euro- and U.S.-centric' perspectives on art, race, and class. David Frohnapfel shows how progressive racism in the discourse on Haitian art recenters Whiteness by performing benign, innocent, and heroic identifications with the artist group Atis Rezistans. While the study turns critically towards Whiteness, it also turns away from it and towards the compelling contributions of Haitian curators and artists to the decentralization of contemporary art.

€41.99 *

2 December 2020, 318 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8394-5592-0
File size: 7.39 MB

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David Frohnapfel

David Frohnapfel, Berlin, Deutschland

1. Why did You chose this topic?

The main question that motivated me in my research was to inquire into the politics that are behind defensive and deflecting emotions set in motion in many white actors by anti-racist arguments and decolonial thinking? After reading the writings by Sara Ahmed, Gloria Wekker, and Walter Mignolo, I became interested in my work to discuss ways of changing the terms of conversation and not just the content. How do the methodologies we have developed to make sense about art continue to be influenced by the unacknowledged Whiteness of the discipline's past and present? At the same time, my study about artists and curators working in Haiti also shows that where there is oppression, there is also always resistance, resilience, and disobedience.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

I hope my work contributes to the ongoing debates about how we can shift our understanding of art towards more awareness of how systems of oppression are intersectionally entangled without falling into a trap of ›oppression Olympics‹. I'm less interested in any idea of ›progressive newness‹ in my work and more concerned about anti-racist knowledges and how they are continued to be ignored, forgotten, and sidestepped. Those anti-racist knowledges have always been there and actively rejecting the coloniality of epistemic regimes since the days of the Haitian Revolution.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

There is a lot of catching up to do in German-speaking art history departments when it comes to debates about race and racism in the visual arts. While the intellectual history of the Caribbean has increasingly received more attention and currency in postcolonial and decolonial debates in recent years – mainly through the reception of the writings of Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Audre Lorde, Fernando Ortiz, and Stuart Hall – German-speaking art history departments continue to neglect the Caribbean as a region of scholarly interest. My book navigates this gap of knowledge and introduces its readers to the arts of the pan-Caribbean region with a specific focus on the transregional art world of Port-au-Prince and its inter-class solidarities and tensions.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

I'm looking right now into funding opportunities to get my book translated into Haitian Creole. Circulating my book within Caribbean and diasporic contexts for the arts is very important to me and I would like to continue my conversations with the artist groupAtis Rezistans.

But I also don't want to come across too naive about it. Many Haitian artists – and BIPoC scholars, artists, and curators in general–are very much aware of the knowledge I have accumulated in this book because they are living and navigating those power imbalances on a daily basis.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

The study debates the ongoing epistemic marginalization of Haitian artists and curators as legitimate knowledge producers in the transnational field of contemporary art.

David Frohnapfel
Book title
Alleviative Objects Intersectional Entanglement and Progressive Racism in Caribbean Art
transcript Verlag
40 SW-Abbildungen
Commodity Group
ART044000 SOC002010 POL045000
Release date
2 December 2020
Postkolonialismus, Kunst, Museum
Global Art History, Cultural Studies, Critical Race Theory, Critical Whiteness Studies, Caribbean Studies, Haitian Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Museum Studies
Contemporary Art, Haiti, Caribbean, Socially-engaged Art, Installation Art, Racism, Whiteness, Decoloniality, Intersectionality, Affect, Museum, Art, Postcolonialism, South American Art, Cultural Anthropology, Museology, Cultural Studies

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