Black Performance on the Outskirts of the left: a history of the impossible

Nina Simone
Nina Simone in concert, England, 1968, video still from Nina Simone: Live in ’65 & ’68, Reelin’ in the Years Productions, 2008.

a discussion & celebration of the new book by Malik Gaines, with panelists Ricardo MontezFred Moten, & Alexandra Vazquez, with a response by Malik Gaines

Malik Gaines, Performance Studies, New York University
Ricardo Montez, Humanities, The New School
Fred Moten, Performance Studies, New York University
Alexandra Vazquez, Performance Studies, New York University

In his just published Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left, Malik Gaines illustrates the black political ideas that radicalized the artistic endeavors of musicians, playwrights, and actors beginning in the 1960s. These ideas paved the way for imaginative models for social transformation through performance. Looking broadly at performances found in music, theater, film, and everyday life—from American singer and pianist Nina Simone, Ghanaian playwrights Efua Sutherland and Ama Ata Aidoo, Afro-German actor Günther Kaufmann, to California-based performer Sylvester—Gaines explores how shared signs of racial legacy and resistance politics are articulated with regional distinction. Three distinguished scholars of performance studies offer responses to Gaines’s book, followed by formal remarks from Gaines.