Paul Pfeiffer & Languid Hands, in conversation with Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa
Thursday 1 July / 7pm (BST); 2pm (EST) / Online
To follow Anne Anlin Cheng, what happens when we ‘shift our attention away from the visibility of race to its visuality?’ What happens when we attend to the strategic modes of appearance within the visible developed by racialised subjects, or modelled to us through their art? What happens when we consider racialised forms of visuality and aurality as tactics designed not solely to evade racialised violence, but as methods of manifesting and mobilising subaltern histories, and embodied forms of knowing? How should we respond to the grammars of black performance – in word, image and sound – as practices of knowing? How do we respond to the ongoingness of truths known to racialised subjects that are nevertheless inadmissible within the normative strictures of ‘proof,’ or the standard forms of documentary practice?
These questions will be taken up in a discussion between Paul Pfeiffer and Languid Hands, moderated by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, in a panel that centres around a screening of Pfeiffer’s The Long Count (I Shook Up the World) (2000), Caryatid (Broner) (2020), and Languid Hands’s Towards a Black Testimony: Prayer/Protest/Peace (2019).
LANGUID HANDS is a London-based artistic and curatorial collaboration between Rabz Lansiquot, filmmaker, programmer and DJ, and Imani Robinson, interdisciplinary writer, editor and live artist. Their work is informed by ongoing explorations in Black and queer studies, Black creative and liberatory praxis and abolitionist thought. They began collaborating in 2015, within the collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable (SYFU), curating public programming and exhibitions in a number of institutional and independent contexts in the U.K. and Europe. In 2019, Languid Hands were commissioned by Jerwood Arts to make the film Towards a Black Testimony: Prayer, Protest, Peace which was exhibited as part of the group exhibition Jerwood Collaborate!. The film was presented as a solo exhibition at Stroom, Den Haag alongside a live programme of performative responses (2019) and at Display, Prague as a group exhibition and residency with local Black artists (2020/1). The film, which was conceived as a curatorial note as well as a work in and of itself, has been screened numerous times throughout the pandemic and in different iterations over the past two years. Languid Hands are currently Curatorial Fellows at Cubitt, London, where they will be presenting their programme No Real Closure until March 2022.
PAUL PFEIFFER (b. 1966, Honolulu, Hawaii) is known for his inventive manipulation of digital media, and recasts the visual language of pop spectacle to explore the role of images in shaping individual and collective consciousness. Sampling footage from YouTube, cable television, and other sources, he uses these to plumb the depths of contemporary culture, assessing its racial, religious, and technological dimensions. At the same time, Pfeiffer’s objects and images function diachronically, establishing profound genealogies that connect contemporary culture and its many particularities — professional sports, televised game shows, Michael Jackson, etc. — to the long, seemingly remote histories of art, religion, colonialism, racial slavery, and the quest for liberation. One-person exhibitions include the Whitney Museum of American Art (2001), MUSAC León, Spain (2008), Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2011), Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila (2015), Bellas Artes Outpost, Manila (2018). Recent projects include a commission for Performa 2019 presented at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, and the curatorial project Exodus at the Watergate Building, Washington, D.C. (2019-2020). Paul Pfeiffer: Incarnator opens at Thomas Dane Gallery, London on 15 June and runs to 7 August 2021.
STANLEY WOLUKAU-WANAMBWA is a photographer, writer, and graduate director of the photography MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. His book of selected essays, Dark Mirrors, is forthcoming from MACK Books in 2021, and his most recent photographic monograph, Hiding in Plain Sight, was published by the Harun Farocki Institute in summer 2020 – co-authored with fellow artist Ben Alper. His work was most recently exhibited at the International Center of Photography, NY (2021), and in the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie (2020). He has contributed essays to catalogues and monographs by Steve McQueen, Paul Graham, Vanessa Winship, George Georgiou and Rosalind Fox Solomon, been an artist-in-residence at Light Work, guest edited the Aperture Photobook Review, and written for Aperture, FOAM, the Barbican and The Photographer’s Gallery. He is editing the inaugural Aperture Reader Series of thematic essay collections, entitled The Lives of Images, the first two volumes of which will be released from summer 2021 onward.