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Phokeng Setai

Abstract

The last forty years have seen substantial market attention being directed towards the aesthetic practices of Black African
artists. Causing an exponential rise in expenditure on Black cultural production circulating in the global economy, stimulated by neoliberal interests seeking to capture extant vernacular of Black African subjectivity. Such particularistic articulations of Black subjectivity have, over time, become commodified—instrumental to their commodification has been the removal of these
practices from the cultures in which they were inherited (Gilroy, 2000:249). This paper delves into the machinations of this trend and interrogates by means of critical speculation how nascent curatorial constructs and discursive models may engender alternatives for engaging with Black modes of artistic production. The paper proposes a method of ‘curating in the dark’, a speculative, multi-vocal dialogic praxis and non-linear approach that seeks to intervene into bankrupt models of curating or engaging with Black art. Curating in the dark is geared towards expanding the scope of what we understand Black art to be in the spectrum of current global artistic
practices, and what it can also still become. Furthermore, this avowedly speculative inquiry seeks to disempower the neoliberal art system’s modalities of capturing Black artistic practices and cultural patterns in the present.

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