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Indepth Arts News:

"Black Atlantic: Global Development of Art and on Popular Trends"
2004-09-16 until 2004-11-15
House of World Cultures
Berlin, , DE Germany

The Black Diaspora and Black Cultures have had a seminal influence both on the global development of art and on popular trends: in music and dance, in the fine arts and in literature. From 17 September to 15 November the dynamics, networks and migrations of Black Cultures across three continents can be experienced in a series of concerts, dance performances, newly commissioned multimedia installations, readings, discussions, films and workshops.

The programme presents art forms that arose from a half-remembered history of transport, slavery and racism, and out of an intense debate on traumas, prohibitions and exclusion. Together they form a patchwork of counter-history and counter-histories that challenge Eurocentrist historiography and engender new concepts of art. They repeatedly confirm the "dissident identities" of Black Culture, as Paul Gilroy, curator of the programme, points out. The present project is named after Gilroy's influential book The Black Atlantic, in which he describes the highly-complex structure of inter-relationships in the African Diaspora that extends across Africa, America and Europe, and the alternatives it poses to Western modernity.

The programme centres on music: on the soundscapes of the Black Atlantic. Black rhythms are reflections of an African past, the history of slavery and are identity-shaping traditions and customs – they also shape contemporary pop culture. In jam sessions involving top international musicians, Jean-Paul Bourelly's "Congo Square" project (named after the historical meeting place of the slaves of New Orleans) communicates the fundamental idea of a transnational exchange. There will also be a series of high-profile concerts. For example, Brazilís new voice Virginia Rodrigues, Cuban jazz pianist and Grammy award winner Gonzalo Rubalcaba, dub poetry legend Linton Kwesi Johnson and Jazz Jamaica will be cartographing an imaginary continent and drawing on constantly changing influences.

The histories related to the sound of the Black Atlantic are also linked to traditions of visual culture and performance, which play with the boundaries of the visible and the portrayable, as well as a literature that knows the limits of what can be said. These "arts of darkness" can be seen as a powerful counter-culture challenging that of the Western modernities. In the BLACK ATLANTIC programme, these arts are reflected in the large multimedia installations of Isaac Julien, Keith Piper, Lisl Ponger and Tim Sharp. A new performance project by dancer and choreographer Ismael Ivo traces the memories of the transatlantic connections to the Black history of Brazil. The effects of imperialist power and colonial relationships on the moral and political conceptions of modern Europe – and especially those of Germany – will be the theme of an intensive programme of conferences, discussions and readings.

Black Atlantic is structured by three "platforms", each providing an interdisciplinary forum for intensive creative exchanges on a specific theme for seven to ten days. The art exhibition and the series of concerts will link the various themes. Different discourses, forms of artistic expression, generations and social groups will encounter one another here. The platforms have been developed by Paul Gilroy and two experts on black European history: the historian Tina Campt and the female film-maker and historian Fatima El-Tayeb.

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