New Black Surrealisms, guest edited by Tiffany E. Barber and Jerome P. Dent, Jr., extends recent interventions in Black media studies to rethink the relation between Blackness, the body, and liberation as well as the role of surrealism within contemporary Black expressive culture. TV shows such as Queen Sugar and Random Acts of Flyness and films such as Get Out, Black Panther, and Sorry to Bother You have been lauded as path-breaking examples of Black visual culture in the twenty-first century. These media objects emerge from what Brandy Monk-Payton calls an era of “televisual reparations,” a curative desire for positive representation fostered in the Black spectator in response, at least in part, to the depiction of violence against Black bodies in our mediascape. As such, these cultural products, as iterations of dreamwork in visual culture, are representative of desires for “freedom dreams” and the violence that circumscribes their impulses. New Black Surrealisms critically examines the ongoing desire for racial repair and its cultural products in an era where Black lives matter by considering what other forms of the visual demand our attention. What are the visual and extravisual registers of Black life and death? Where and how do we imagine racial alterity and its futures on and off screen beyond the televisual? In a world where image content, and arguably Blackness, circulates with little restraint, where do we locate violence, fugitivity, and refusal? Where and in what ways do we address the fact that while dreams are important to the life of the subject, dreamwork can also be a fraught terrain for Black bodies? The digital artworks, short-form essays, interviews, and creative fiction included in New Black Surrealisms coalesce the potential paradoxes and aporias that arise from juxtaposing Blackness and representation within our post-civil rights imagination.
About the Organizers
Tiffany E. Barber is a scholar, curator, and critic of twentieth and twenty-first century visual art, new media, and performance. Her work focuses on artists of the Black diaspora working in the United States and the broader Atlantic world. Her writing appears in Rhizomes, InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture, TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Black Camera, ASAP/Journal, Dance Research Journal, Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, and various anthologies, exhibition catalogs, and online publications. She is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware.
Jerome Dent is a California native, but his academic studies have brought him to locations all across the United States. He has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and African American Studies from the University of California, Irvine, an M.A. in Humanities from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, and is a Visual and Cultural Studies PhD Candidate at the University of Rochester. He is also currently working as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. His research interests include queer theory, critical race theory, film theory and disability studies.