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Black and Blur: Fred Moten in Conversation with Arthur Jafa

DEC 11, 2017 | 6:30 PM

Black and Blur book cover



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


9100: Skylight Room


December 11, 2017: 6:30 PM




Intellectual Publics


Photo Credit: Charles Daniel Dawson

In Black and Blur—the first volume in his sublime and compelling trilogy consent not to be a single being—Fred Moten engages in a capacious consideration of the place and force of blackness in African diaspora arts, politics, and life. In these interrelated essays, Moten attends to entanglement, the blurring of borders, and other practices that trouble notions of self-determination and sovereignty within political and aesthetic realms. Black and Blur is marked by unlikely juxtapositions that reflect how blackness' social, aesthetic, and theoretical insurgencies prompt and respond to a modernity founded upon the sociological catastrophe of the transatlantic slave trade and settler colonialism. In so doing, he unsettles normative ways of reading, hearing, and seeing, thereby reordering the senses to create new means of knowing. In this regard, he attempts to do in writing what Arthur Jafa has long been doing across a range of visual genres and in astute and path breaking theoretical work of his own. This conversation extends their fifteen-year engagement of shared thoughts and unfinished sentences.

FRED MOTEN was born in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1962. He is author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003); Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2009); B. Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010); The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions, 2014); The Little Edges (Wesleyan University Press, 2015; The Service Porch (Letter Machine Editions, 2016) and consent not to be a single being (Duke University Press, 2017, 2018). Moten is also co-author, with Stefano Harney, of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2013) and, with Wu Tsang, of Who touched me? (If I Can’t Dance, I Don't Want to be Part of Your Revolution, 2016). He works in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University.

ARTHUR JAFA is an artist, filmmaker, cinematographer, and TNEG (motion picture studio) co-founder. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and currently resides in Los Angeles. Renowned for his cinematography on Julie Dash’s pioneering film Daughters of the Dust (1991), Jafa, also the film’s co-producer, put into practice techniques he had long been theorizing. “Black Visual Intonation” is but one of his radical notions about re-conceptualizing film. He is the director of Slowly This (1995), Tree (1999), Deshotten 1.0 (2009), APEX (2013) and Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016). Jafa was the director of photography on Spike Lee's Crooklyn (1994), Isaac Julien's Darker Shade of Black (1994), A Litany for Survival (1995), Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson's biographical film on the late Audre Lorde, John Akomfrah's Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993), a cinematographer for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Manthia Diawara's Rouch in Reverse (2000), Nefertite Nguvu’s In the Morning (2014), shot second unit on Ava DuVernay’s Selma (2014) and was the director of photography for Solange’s music videos Don’t Touch My Hair and Cranes in the Sky (both 2016). In 2017, along with TNEG, Jafa conceived, shot and edited the music video for JAY-Z’s 4:44, the title track from his newest album. Dreams are Colder Than Death, a documentary directed and shot by Jafa to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, garnered acclaim at the LA Film Festival, NY Film Festival and Black Star Film Festival where it won Best Documentary. His writing on black cultural politics has appeared in various publications such as Black Popular Cultureand Everything but the Burden, among others. He is represented in celebrated private and public collections worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The High Museum, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the Stedelijk Museum, the Perez Art Museum in Miami, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.