“My color does not disfigure my honor or my wit.”
ReSignifications links classical and popular representations of African bodies in European art, culture and history. It moderates and subverts artistic conventions by using the works of contemporary artists from Africa, Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean to engage in dialogue with the broad historical array of ornamental representations of African bodies. The artists in this exhibition speak against the background of the connected histories of Europe and Africa, and the African Diasporas. Starting from the ubiquitous model of decorative art known as the “Blackamoor,” ReSignifications confronts the representation of African bodies in various forms of service — as domestic servants, courtiers, soldiers, priests, and others – with audacious presentations of such bodies as protagonists of histories and cultures. The exhibition combines styles across time and place to reframe and refract the history of representing African and African diasporic bodies. The unusual juxtaposition of these works gives the exhibition its texture and flavor, thereby underscoring the words of Giambattista Marino (1569-1625): “Nera sì, ma se’ bella.” (“Black yes, but so beautiful”).