The Author : Elvan Zabunyan
Elvan Zabunyan is a contemporary art historian, art critic and professor at Rennes University, where she was the director of the Master’s Curatorial Program from 2002 to 2019. She works across issues of race, postcolonialism and feminism, as well as on the political and cultural history of the United States in relationship to artistic activism since the 1960s. She published a pioneering work on African-American visual arts, Black is a Color: A History of Contemporary African American Art (Dis Voir, 2005) and the first monograph dedicated to the Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Berkeley, 1968 (Presses du réel, 2013, to be released in English end 2020). She co-edited publications, wrote numerous articles for collections and anthologies, exhibit catalogues and periodicals, including Adrian Piper (MoMA, 2018), Ellen Gallagher (WIELS, 2019), LaToya Ruby Frazier (MUDAM, 2019), Kehinde Wiley (Templon, 2019), “The Muted Sound of Speaking Silence” (Kunsttexte.de, 2020), and “Lorna Simpson: Hearing Images” (InSITE, 2020). She recently co-edited the special issue “Pratiquer l’histoire par les arts contemporains/Experimenting History with Contemporary Arts” for the journal Esclavages et Post-esclavages/Slaveries and Post-Slaveries (CIRESC/CNRS) (May 2020). She is a regular contributor to the magazine Critique d’art and the online daily AOC media.
Elvan Zabunyan also published on 9 June a text in AOC echoing the #Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the United States.
8 MINUTES 46 SECONDS, #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd – the Response of American Artists
Since the murder of George Floyd on Monday 25 May 2020 by a police officer, the whole world has been reacting to the immeasurable drama which added another death to the list of hundreds, thousands, millions of people killed by violence in the United States from the Genocide of Native Americans and the arrival of the first Africans transported by slavers. Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, activists and artists who have spoken since then have incessantly repeated that these four hundred years of history have branded the whole social, economic and political African-American reality.
This phenomenon is repeated today with the active involvement of museums on social networks in response to the murder of George Floyd. Thus, on Instagram a few days ago, the MoMA of New York offered a work from the “body-prints” series created by the famous African-American artist David Hammons in 1969. At that time, and in the thick of the Vietnam War, major revolts were breaking out in the country following the assassination of Martin Luther King. The work is called Pray for America, and it shows the imprint of a man in profile praying, wearing the flag of the United States on his head and shoulders, as an emblem of death which comes to reap lives. Under the posted image, we can read: “In these intolerable times of tragedy and violence, we must all remain united in rejecting racism and injustice and commit ourselves to the construction of a safe, peaceful and fair future for everyone.”
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