Part of Learning
The Old Hairdressers
SUPERLUX invites you to a participate in a new reading group exploring texts in relation to our upcoming screening Who Needs a Heart (1991) by Black Audio Film Collective. Hosted by artist and writer Ash Reid, this reading group is invited to read and discuss two texts: Minimal Selves by cultural theorist Stuart Hall, and Blackness and Governance by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten.
Minimal Selves (1987) uses Hall’s personal experience to trace the instability of race relations in twentieth-century British identity and nationalism, while Blackness and Governance (2013) is a collaborative and episodic text that cycles through questions of the disavowal, management and violence of blackness.
Both texts are available to download:Stuart Hall, ‘Minimal Selves’ (PDF)Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Blackness and Governance, pp. 47 – 57, in The Undercommons (open access PDF generously made available through Minor Compositions publishing)
This reading group will look at blackness, representation and history, and is invited to explore non-linear or polyvocal narrative constructions, as well as how these strategies can come to express the lives of those that, as Harney and Moten put it, ‘persist under the sign and weight of a closed question’ of subjectivity under hegemonic whiteness. (Harney Moten, p.48)
Examining the social, political and economic context of 1980s Britain and its echo in today, the reading group will use these two texts to ask exactly what it is to embody the Black body in the terms of what Hortense J. Spillers refers to as the ‘flesh’ of blackness – a body denied both its subjectivity and history by colonial force. The group is invited to explore the paradoxes of embodiment, including the performativity of a disembodied whiteness that too has no history, only a present based on what it proclaims itself as not.
Through the work of Hall, Moten and Harney, and with particular reference to the idea of postmodernity (where the fragmentation of the contemporary subject is understood as a loss of connection to history), we will ask: exactly whose history has been disrupted? What kind of subjectivities form from, or in spite of, its seeming ruin?
Ash Reid is an artist and worker at Electra in London. She recently completed a masters programme at the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, with a dissertation on the sociotypography of blackness and feminism.