Denniston Hill and the Dedalus Foundation presented a conversation between Autumn Knight, whose work is interested in Black interiority in relation to coerced public spectacle and Nana Adusei-Poku, a Ghanian- German scholar whose current work focuses on cultural shifts and afro-pessimist aesthetics in Black Cultures. The conversation is inspired by Knight’s new participatory performance Series called Sanity TV, which is a fictional talk show that investigates the flexible boundaries of identity and psyche. Knight and Adusei-Poku will speak on the evolution of Sanity TV, and the influence of Harlem. Questions of the historical construction of norms in relationship to colonialism and gender as well as the still precarious position of Black subjects and subjectivities will be addressed. This conversation will explore themes of normativity, racialization, and performance as a space to push the boundaries between the ‘normal’ and the ‘insane’, the self and the other, the pessimistic and the hopeful. Sanity TV is presented as four episodes over the course of the Studio Museum Harlem Artists in Residence exhibition We Go as They, September 14-January 7.
Nana Adusei-Poku (PhD) is an independent scholar, writer and educator as well as Guest Lecturer in Media Arts and Master Fine Arts at the University of the Arts, Zurich. She was Research Professor for Cultural Diversity from 2013-2014 and then for Visual Cultures 2015-2017 at the Hogeschool Rotterdam with affiliation to the Piet Zwart Institute and the Willem de Kooning Academy. She received her PhD from Humboldt University Berlin for her thesis on post-black art as part of the Graduate program called “Gender as a category of Knowledge”, following degrees in African studies and gender studies at Humboldt University, and in media and communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana, Legon; the London School of Economics; and Columbia University, New York.
Nana is immersed in the void, the abyss and sunken places and how those articulate themselves in texts, bodies, images and relations. The question "What are the conditions of our existence", which Stuart Hall asked, remain core to her journey and inspire her to embody and develop a decolonial pedagogical approach and to explore the performativity of nothingness and life"in the hold". Since 2015 she is co-founder of N+.
She published i.e. the article “Post-Post-Black?” In Nka-Journal for Contemporary African Art and Catch me if you can! which is a critical reflection on the state of Diversity and Decolonisation in the Arts and Art education. In her most recent publication “On Being Present Where You Wish to Disappear,” Adusei-Poku questions the notion of nothingness, universality, and whiteness common in the contemporary art world.
Autumn Knight is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation and text. Recent solo exhibitions include Karnnert Art Museum (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Art Pace (San Antonio, TX), and Project Row Houses (Houston, TX). She has been awarded an Artadia grant, and residencies at the Galveston Artist Residency, Milay Colony, Yamaguchi Institute of Contemporary Art, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and In-Situ-In-Place. Her work and performances have been included in group exhibitions at the Blaffer Art Museum (Houston, TX), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Betonville, AK), The New Museum (NY), and The Contemporary Art Museum Houston. She holds an M.A. in Drama Therapy from New York University, and a 2017 artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY. She was in residence fall 2017 at Denniston Hill.