Black Portraiture[s] IV: The Color of Silence

Image: René Peña, Man Made Materials (digital print, 2000). Courtesy of the artist.

BLACK PORTRAITURE[S] IV: The Color of Silence is the eighth conference in a series of conversations about imaging the black body. We invite artists, activists, and scholars to reflect on the visual expressions of national imaginaries and political ideologies that negate racial differences and render black subjects invisible. Such ideologies are prevalent in Latin America and the Caribbean, where metaphors of mixture (mestizaje or mestiçagem) and racial harmony ignore inequality and discrimination. Similar formulations are to be found elsewhere, however, as in republican France, or among proponents of a post-racial United States, or in references to a South African “rainbow nation”, or in Jamaica’s well-known “out of many, one people” motto. Presenters will engage a range of historical and contemporary topics such as biennales, exhibitions, movements, individual artists and collectives, art markets, politics, tourism, sites of memory, Afrofuturism, fashion, dance, music, film, art, and photography. We invite papers and panel proposals on relevant topics.

With the status of US/Cuba relations uncertain and the Administration’s policies as yet not revealed, the Harvard University and New York University partners have decided to relocate Black Portraitures IV to Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in March 2018. Watch this space for confirmation of dates, coming next week. We regret any inconvenience this change of location causes for our participants.


Black Portraiture[s] IV: The Color of Silence will take place fifteen years after we convened an initial colloquium at Harvard on African American art. Then, we were interested in formalizing a discipline. Now, that discipline is thriving, and that first colloquium has grown over the years into the international conference series, Black Portraitures, attracting hundreds of scholars, artists, and activists from around the world. We look forward to reconvening in Cambridge to continue the conversation.


If you do not want your proposal considered for the Cambridge conference, please let us know immediately.