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As part of the UGA Postcolonial Collective's season of events, Dr. Matthew Omelsky (University of Rochester) will give a lecture titled, “Time, Fugitivity, and Global Black Aesthetics.”

The talk is generously funded by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and the Department of Comparative Literature.

Talk Description:

This talk will draw on my recently published book Fugitive Time: Global Aesthetics and the Black Beyond (Duke UP 2023), which theorizes the embodied experience of time in black artforms from throughout the world. The term “fugitive time” names a distinct utopian desire directed at the anticipated moment when pain has at last vanished from the body and mind, bringing with it a new form of being and being-in-the-world. Somehow, inexplicably, free of the violence that has consumed black life throughout the world for centuries. But like all utopias, that desired moment of absolute release is elusive. Fugitive time, instead, is about sustaining the idea of the chase as an ecstatic social gathering. The talk will present this larger theory alongside several examples of the ways it differentially manifests in the mixed media installations of American artist Shikeith, the essay films of Britain’s Black Audio Film Collective, and the work of the Zimbabwean novelist Yvonne Vera.

Speaker Bio:

Matthew Omelsky is an assistant professor in the Department of English and the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies. He is also a core faculty member in the Frederick Douglass Institute and Department of Black Studies and a faculty affiliate in Film and Media Studies. His research is concentrated in the field of global black cultural studies, with an emphasis on how 20th and 21st century black artists from across the world express a desire for unfathomable freedoms. Omelsky is the author of Fugitive Time: Global Aesthetics and the Black Beyond (Duke UP 2023), which theorizes the embodied experience of time in an archive of black music, visual culture, and literature from Zimbabwe, Martinique, Britain, Senegal, and the United States. The book examines the intersection of black fugitivity, time-consciousness, and utopian desire in a range of work, from Aimé Césaire and Wifredo Lam’s négritude aesthetics, to the Black Audio Film Collective's experimental essay films, to Sun Ra’s avant-garde music and poetry, to NoViolet Bulawayo’s contemporary fiction. Continuing his research on global black aesthetics, his current project, Black Speculative Experiments, looks at 21st century electronic music, film, fiction, poetry, and sculpture that expand the limits of the thinkable and the intelligible through a confluence of the speculative mode and formal experimentation. The project focuses on how Chino Amobi, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, the Otolith Group, and other artists reimagine the conditions of contemporary society, assembling distinct conceptions of global blackness in response to the layered crises of our time.

Event Details

  • Ali Ahsan
  • Casandra Aigbogun
  • Jasmine Best

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