Artist talk from Allan deSouza, USA (NI)

Talk: The Present as an Entanglement of Absences

How can we tell stories and make artworks that are always in the becoming, unmaking and remaking colonized pasts, making and changing futures, or what José Esteban Muñoz describes as potentialities, as “a certain mode of nonbeing that is eminent, a thing that is present but not actually existing in the present tense.” Using Achille Mbembe’s proposition that the present is an entanglement of absences, deSouza’s talk will address time as hybrid and malleable, and artworks for what they do rather than for what they are.

Allan deSouza is a California-based artist, whose works restage colonial legacies through counter-strategies of humor, fiction, and (mis)translation. Recent projects, Through the Black Country… (2017), and La Vida del Capitan (2019), transpose Henry Stanley’s 1870s African expedition journals to England during the 2016 Brexit vote, and Columbus’ 1492 ship diaries to a 2019 expedition from Oakland to Seville. Both projects include expedition maps and photographs. deSouza’s work has been shown extensively in the US and internationally, including at the Krannert Museum, IL; the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; and the Pompidou Centre, Paris. deSouza’s book, How Art Can Be Thought (Duke, 2018), closely examines artistic and pedagogical practices, and provides an extensive analytical glossary of common art terms. deSouza’s most recent book, Ark of Martyrs (Sming Sming Books, 2020), is a rhymed rewrite of Joseph Conrad’s infamous Heart of Darkness (1899). deSouza is represented by Talwar Gallery, NY and New Delhi, and is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Art Practice at University of California, Berkeley.

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Recorded on 4 November 2020

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