Black Portraiture(s) II Imaging the black body and re-staging Histories

May 28-31/ Villa La Pietra / New York University / Florence Italy

Held at New York University’s historical Villa La Pietra, home of the NYU/Florence program in Florence Italy, Black Potraiture(s) II is the sixth in a series of interdisciplinary visual arts conferences Harvard University inaugurated in 2004 with Bridging the Gabs.

Organizers: Awam Amkpa, Ulrich Baer, Manthia Diawara, Henry Louis Gates, jr Thelma Golden, Robert Holmes, Ellyn Toscano, Cheryl Finley


and …. the driving force behind all this: Deborah Willis. 

A review in pictures (also by Terrence Jennings and Nancy Jouwe):

First evening Villa La Pietra. Because I’ve talked to so many people I had not seen in a long time, I was not able to take many pictures.

Nancy Jouwe, Sirpa Salenius and Charmaine Nelson
Nancy Jouwe, Sirpa Salenius and Charmaine Nelson

The conference poster is a work by Omar Victor Diop (a selfportrait)

DSC_0464 opening conference
DSC_0596 detail
The artist is present
BlackPortraiture_Day_1_edit0089 kleiner

Overview by Terrence Jennings. I’m on this (People sometimes complain that they never see me on my pictures).I’m in the middle of this detail below.

BlackPortraiture_Day_1_edit0089 hele formaat detail
Opening conf foto door Nancy Jouwe met Jörgen Tjon a Fong,  Rob Perree, Charl Landvreugd en ik
And this one is taken by Nancy Jouwe  Jörgen Tjon a Fong,  Rob Perree, Charl Landvreugd and me

First Day May 29 2015 Odeon Florence


Introduction with the first lady of New York: Chirlane McCray (good speech)DSC_0485Deborah Willis and Cheryl Finley 

First panel: ReSinifications: European Backamoors, Africana Readings and More

With: Michael Gomez, Robert E Holmes, Francoise Verges, Gunja SenGupta, Ella Shohat and Jason King

Robert Holmes talking about the blackamoors in the Villa la PietraDSC_0502


second panel : Black Italia 

With: Alessandra Di Maio, Sandra Ponzanesi, Ghaul Bassi, Linde Luijnenburg, Pap Khouma and Ubah Christina Ali Farrah


Third panel of the day: The Sweetest Taboo: Theorizing Black Female Pleasure, Agency and Desire within Black Feminism (nice surprice this panel, with a change of perspective)

With: Mark Anthony Neal,Joan Morgan, Treva Lindsey, Brittney Cooper, Kaila Story and Uri McMillan


Fourth panel of the day: Activating Histories: Visualizing and Restaging the Archive

With: Kalia Brooks, Kellie Jones, mary Schmidt Campbell, Tanisha Ford, Tiffany M. GillRenee Mussay


Opening exhibition ReSignifications in Bardini Museo Florence.

DSC_0487 Awam Ampka

The exhibition, curated by Awam Ampka, juxtaposes a select grouping of schulptured images of Africans, commenly known as blackamoors, in various states of servitude and decoration with reinterpretations and couter-narratives of the Black boy from a spectrum of contemporary artistic angles.

At the entrance  A work by Fred Wilson, Snuff.

DSC_0722 detail met Weems

Carrie Mae Weems 

DSC_0589DSC_0590 DSC_0592DSC_0596Omar Victor Diop was present at the opening.

Adrienne Childs (specialist in ‘Blackamoors’) explaines DSC_0602

Zanele Muholi


Flavio Cerqueira


DSC_0623 DSC_0619Patrizia Maimouna Guerresi (black mountains 2006)DSC_0626

Day Two May 30 2015 at the Odeaon in Florence

The first panel of the day The Image of the Black in Western Art 

With: David Bindman, Jan Marsh, Kate Lowe, Monica Miller, Tanya Sheehan and Julia HernandezDSC_0644

David Bindman mentions the exhibition Black is beautiful, Rubens to Dumas.(2008)


Second panel of the day: Out of Body: Composing Blackness through Sound, Music, and (Performance) Art


The third panel of the day: Contemporary Art & Cultural Dilomacy: Art in Embassies Program Artists

With Robert Soppelsa, Carrie Mae Weems, Mickalene Thomas, Sanford Biggers adn Florence Lado


Fourth panel of the day: Sister Outsider: Black American Women, Identity and Global Travel

Last day May 31 Villa La Pietra.
The Panel I’m in, in the Ballroom of the Villa la Pietra. Title: The Court Moor: Blackness, Servitude & the Artifice of Court Culture. With Moderator and speaker Adrienne Childs, Paul Kaplan, me, and Irina Novikova
 A few minutes later a full house in the ballroom

Second session (I visited)  Imaging Masculinity with Chrsitne Checinska, Marcus Bruce, Lyneise Williams, Millery Polyne, Niyi Coker. jr.

last session I visited: Re-creating Histories: Artists’Speak with Rujecko Hockley, Justin Randolf Thomson, Hank Willis Thomas, Kiluanji Henda, Elixabeth Colomba, Omar Victor Diop
Hank Willis Thomas, Omar Victor Diop and moderator Rujecko Hockley 

This is the maximum I can put on this blog.

See for more information

About me

In 2008 I was guest curator of the exhibition Black is beautiful. Rubens to Dumas. Important advisors: Elizabeth McGrath (Rubens and colleagues, Warburg institute Image of the Black in Western Art collection), Carl Haarnack (slavery in books), Elmer Kolfin (slavery in prints and paintings) en Adi Martis (contemporary art). Gary Schwartz made his research for The Image of the Black in Western Art available to me.

Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover
Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover

In 2014 my essay ‘Painted Blacks and Radical Imagery in the Netherlands (1900-1940)’ was published in The Image of the Black in Western Art Volume V (I). (ed. David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates jr.)

In 2017 I published a book about the black servants at the Court of the Royal Van Oranje family. More than a thousand documents have been found about their lives. (only in Dutch)

Cupido en Sideron Cover 30-8-2017

All photos on this site are not intended for any commercial purpose. I have tried to trace all the rules and rights of all images. As far as I know, these images can be used in this way. If you ar a copyright holder and would like a piece of your work removed or the creditline changed then please do not hesitate to contact me.


    1. Ha Finette. Ja het was inderdaad indrukwekkend. Prachtige locaties, heel veel interessante histories en weer bekenden gezien . Biënnale in Venetië is ook een aanrader.
      Verslag volgt nog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s