3501 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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This presentation engages Paul Stopforth’s aesthetic meditations on Steve Biko’s death. Figuring the photographic negative for purposes of counter-documentary, Stopforth sought to challenge the apartheid government’s ideology about anti-apartheid political activists as treasonous, discrediting and undermining the official narrative. The Biko Series’ drawings open up a plethora of questions about the necro-/negro-philia of seeing and the limits of rendering blackness through a fixation on anatomy/biology. Questioning the political promise of figural artistic strategies that mobilize “the corpse,” Zondi ask: Why is it necessary for the world to see the image of the corpse (again) in aesthetic practice, in order to reflect on violence, and what modes of recognition and identification are produced? What is enacted by recruiting/inviting the viewer to adopt such seeing? 

Mlondolozi (Mlondi) Zondi is a scholar and interdisciplinary artist whose research focuses on contemporary Black performance and art history. Currently, Mlondi is working on a book project titled Unmournable Void, a study of critical artistic practices that tend to the historical conditions of anti-black violence resulting from transatlantic slavery, colonialism, and apartheid. The manuscript approaches questions of matter, mourning, and ontological absence through an engagement with revolutionary Black thought, psychoanalytic theories, art history/visual studies, and dance/performance theory. Mlondi completed a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University (with certificates in Critical Theory, African Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies). The dissertation project received support from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Prior to attending Northwestern, Mlondi received an M.F.A in Dance as a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Irvine; and a BA (Hons) cum laude in Cultural Studies and Performance Studies from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. Mlondi’s work has been published in The Drama Review (TDR), ASAP Journal, Text and Performance Quarterly, and Propter Nos.

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