Dr Alan Rice
Reader in American Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire
“Ghostly Presences and the Histories they Unfold: Utopia and Dystopia in the African Atlantic Vistas of Ellen Gallagher’s Bird in Hand”
4pm Wednesday 3rd March, 2010
Abstract: The African Atlantic visual artist Ellen Gallagher has created in her signature canvas Bird in Hand (2006) perhaps the most stunning visual depiction of the black Atlantic to be created since Paul Gilroy’s seminal text. This paper will discuss the way the painting interprets multiple chronologies and geographies as it exhibits historical wounded memory whilst seeking redemption in a futuristic Aquatopia made possible by the imaginative leap of Drexciya. This idea, developed musically in Detroit techno, that the dead babies of pregnant women thrown overboard during the middle passage lived to form new mutant sea creatures that survived to build a new civilization enables Gallagher the imaginative scope to create her visual new world order. The paper explicates the way that whilst talking of this futuristic Utopia, she does not lose sight of the middle passage realities that created it or of the commodification of black bodies that has accompanied diasporan Africans since the ending of the slave trade. Using the works (amongst others) of Edouard Glissant, Marcus Rediker, Ian Baucom, Kobena Mercer and Avery Gordon, this paper explores and explicates the wonders of Gallagher’s Utopian vision created in response to the Dystopian realities of slavery and racism.
Mae’r arlunydd Ellen Gallagher wedi creu yn ei chynfas Bird in Hand (2006) y darluniad gweledol mwyaf syfrdanol, o bosib, o’r 'Atlantig Du' ers cyfrol arloesol Paul Gilroy. Gan ddefnyddio gweithiau Edouard Glissant, Marcus Rediker, Ian Baucom, Kobena Mercer ac Avery Gordon (ymhlith eraill), mae’r papur hwn yn archwilio ac yn egluro rhyfeddodau Iwtopia Gallagher a grëwyd mewn ymateb i wirioneddau Dystopaidd caethwasiaeth a hiliaeth.