Mutating Literacies, Cultural Productions and New Imaginaries of Africa

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 7:00 - 8:30pm

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Detail: 'Orange Scarf Goes to Heaven' (2013) by Peju Alatise

Detail: 'Orange Scarf Goes to Heaven' (2013) by Peju Alatise

The Interedisciplinary Seminar presents a free, public lecture by Awam Ampka, a dramatist, curator, documentary filmmaker and scholar of performance, theatre and film.

How do artists working in literature and moving images deal with the dynamics of African languages and its ever evolving polyglot cultures to produce texts that have discursive resonances for Africans today? How is Africa imagined in its regional, continental and intercontinental forms and what kinds of visual and literary textual articulations of such dynamics exist? Ampka’s presentation will focus on challenges of formalizing visual literacies with which to develop visual and performance cultures that encapsulates social struggle and quests for imagining subjectivity. Ampka will use illustrations from music videos, shorts and literary texts to undergird his questions and pose a problematic for assessing contemporariness, and challenges to developing comprehensive and multifaceted notions of visual and performative texts.

Awam Ampka is associate professor of drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and associate professor in africana studies social and cultural analysis in NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Ampka is the co-founder and co-curator of the annual Real Life Pan- African Documentary Film Festival in Accra, Ghana, a festival dedicated to African and African Diasporic filmmaking and a curator of the photographic exhibition “Africa: See You, See Me” and co-curator of photo exhibition “They Won’t Budge: Africans in Europe” as well as the recent exhibition in Florence--”ReSignifications.” His documentary films include ‘Winds Against Ours Souls,’  ‘It’s All About Downtown,’  ‘The Other Day We Went to the Movies,’  ‘A VeryVery Short Story of Nollywood’ and feature film ‘Wazobia!’. Professor Amkpa has written and directed plays and is also the author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires and several articles on cultural practices and politics, the Black Atlantic and postcolonial theatre and film.

The Interdisciplinary Seminar, sponsored by the The Cooper Union School of Art, presents a series of free, public lectures reflecting a broad range of contemporary art issues. Speakers include artists, writers, and thinkers currently engaged in a variety of practices. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary approaches, presenting new voices, international perspectives and scholarship across multiple fields. The series constitutes a lively forum for the exchange of ideas between practitioners, students, faculty and the public.

The Fall 2015 Interdisciplinary Seminar is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding support from the Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.