De/cipherin' Practices Colloquium Premiere

By Ferda Mehmet, student intern of CHASS College Computing

De/Cipherin' Practices flyerDe/cipherin' Practices, held on April 24-26th in Arts 214, Arts 166, and Back to the Grind, joined scholars, artists, and practitioners to work on various expressive cultures from the African Diaspora. The colloquium also investigated and created analysis of African-descended art practices through improvisational structure. This three-day workshop was organized by the De/ciphering Practices Study group on campus, in association with the MIT-based Black Performativity Roundtable. The gathering was designed to challenge traditional forms of knowledge production in the academy, foreground performance and improvisational structures from the myriad traditions of African-descended art making, and look towards Afro-Future via the cipher. Assistant Professor and co-coordinator of the colloquium, Anna Scott, whose work analyzes the intersections of dance, racialized bodies, transnational entertainment industry, and faith in the African Diaspora said, "Ultimately, I hope this colloquium will begin to unmoor everyday silent racist practices that prevent people from having meaningful exchanges with those who do not look like or act like them. After all, Africa is in all of us--and that's a historical fact."

The sessions lasted three to four hours, and were held in open, productive sites set by participants around such themes as production, elision/interval, spatiality, aurality, and motion/mobility. In each working session, participants circulated through at least two different themes, as active members, while actively participating from the cipher, or roundtable, in the remaining three. Participants included Baba Alade, Ananya Chatterjea, Thomas DeFrantz, Rickerby Hinds, Jason Kin, Ethan NasreddinLongo, Jerry Quikley, Anna Beatrice Scott, Wendy Walters, and Craig Wilkins. The audience was invited to participate in the cipher as well.

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