Black Portraiture[s] IV

BLACK PORTRAITURE[S] IV: The Color of Silence is the eighth conference in a series of international conversations to assess and break new ground in the fields of African, African American and African diasporic art and art history. This forum also provides various approaches to interpreting the representations, ambiguous meanings, and erasures of the black body in visual, social, material and expressive cultures. Over a span of fifteen years, artists, activists, patrons, musicians, writers, collectives, journalists, educators and scholars have come from across the globe to reflect on why and how conceptions of “blackness” shape historical imaginaries and subvert political ideologies. This is an opportunity to situate not only various macro-histories but also the micro-histories that inform a genealogy of innovative interrogations into the social structures that articulate—or silence—black subjectivity.
The conference aims to explore the aesthetic representation of the frameworks and social relations in which black bodies are seen and unseen, in which black lives are lived freely and under constraint, and most crucially, the representation of black subjects themselves. Examples abound throughout the African diaspora of how the humanity of black subjects is rendered invisible or hyper-visible—or both simultaneously (Cuba’s “antiracism,” Brazil’s “racial democracy,” South Africa’s “rainbow nation,” Jamaica’s “out of many, one people” motto, and the “postracial” U.S. are just a few examples). We invite papers that interrogate the complex intersections of race, history, culture and art.

Havana, Cuba. March 15-17, 2018.

Please contact with questions.

Background image: René Peña, Man Made Materials (digital print, 2000). Courtesy of the artist.


In past conferences, participants have offered generative exchanges on everything from tourism and pop culture (art, fashion, music, dance, film), to revolutionary movements, pedagogy, the history of colonization and its impact on cultural expression, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the contemporary entanglements of the global marketplace. With this latest iteration of Black Portraitures, we seek papers and panel proposals that probe and build off of these themes and provide new methodologies, and even new questions, for the 21st century.

The conference will be held on Thursday through Saturday, March 15-17, 2018, in Havana, Cuba.  As the status of the US/Cuba relations are in flux, more information about travel will be available when the new Administration's policies are enacted.  We will keep you posted.

Please note that as with most academic conferences, we are unable to provide institutional funding for travel to Black Portraitures.


Deadline for submissions: October 1, 2017
Notice of acceptance:  October 27, 2017


Black Portraiture[s] IV is a collaboration with the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University; New York University’s LaPietra Dialogues, Tisch School of the Arts, and the Institute for African American Affairs.


Historical Timeline:

African American Art Colloquium
(organized, hosted and funded by the Du Bois Institute/Harvard
Bridging the Gaps: First Annual Conference on African American Art
(organized, hosted and funded by the Du Bois Institute/Harvard)
New York
Here & Now: African and African American Art & Film Conference
(organized, funded, hosted by Tisch School of the Arts/NYU & cofunded Du Bois Institute/Harvard)
Transformations: New Directions in Black Art
(organized, hosted and funded by Center for Race and Culture/MICA & cofunded Du Bois Institute/Harvard)
ThinkTank: 2010 and Beyond: New Directions in Black Art
(specifically targeted to educators/focused on pedagogy; organized, hosted and funded by Center for Race and Culture/MICA & co-funded Du Bois Institute/Harvard)
New York
Beauty & Fashion, The Black Portrait Symposium (organized, hosted and funded by Tisch School of the Arts/NYU – New York)
(organized, hosted and funded by Tisch School of the Arts/NYU & cofunded by Hutchins Center/Harvard)
(organized and funded by Tisch School of the Arts/NYU, Villa La Pietra Dialogues/NYU & cofunded Hutchins Center/Harvard - Florence)
New York
Black Portraitures II: Revisited (Tisch School of the Arts/Villa Pietra/NYU – New York)
(organized and funded by Tisch School of the Arts/La Pietra Dialogues/NYU, co-funded by Hutchins Center/Harvard hosted by Witswatersrand University)


Visit for photos, videos, and programs from previous Black Portraiture[s] conferences



Travel info coming soon!

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