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DUANE DETERVILLE, Artist, Curator, and Scholar of the African Diaspora: March 14—April 4


Duane Deterville



Afriscape Cartography:
Sight, Sound, Space and Ritual

Duane's residency will map the notion of Afri-diasporic ontology and culture in mediums ranging from ground drawings and installations to simulcast rituals. It will include a series of talks designed both as the presentation of information and discursive provocations to instigate action.

As a radical departure from Black identity as the site of disjuncture and displacement – this residency endeavors to re-inscribe Africanity as the engine of Blackness.

Over the course of this creative process Duane will also engage various members of the Oakland Maroons Art Collective as collaborators on some select projects.



The Politics of the Black Aesthetic in Visual Culture

Saturday March 14th, 3pm

This presentation will be an introduction to the field of Visual Culture and how it relates specifically to the Black experience. The politics of representation in visual fields that range from visual art, paintings, sculpture, architecture, film, museums, galleries and other forms of curatorial display. The presentation will include visual examples as Deterville presents his analysis and include a question and answer session. 


Duane Deterville

Duane Deterville asking for the blessings of and for the ancestors before his talk.

Duane Deterville

Deterville explaining the KiKongo cosmogram that maps the circle of birth, life, death, and ancestors.

Duane Deterville

Showing a work by Kerry James Marshall in which Marshall has conflated the Yoruba deity Shango with Nat Turner.

Deterville speaks to what is blackness, referencing his previously published text.

Duane Deterville is a visual artist, writer and scholar of visual culture. His area of expertise is African and Afri-diasporic visual culture. As the co-founder of Sankofa Cultural Institute he was the creative director of three symposiums on jazz history and has lectured widely on the topic of jazz and visual culture at galleries, museums, universities and colleges. Deterville is an alumni columnist for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Open Space” blog. He is the co-author of “Black Artists in Oakland” a visual history published by Arcadia Publishing. Most recently he co-founded the Oakland Maroons Art Collective and is currently one of several cultural theorists working in the Future of Soul Think Tank at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He holds a Masters Degree in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.


Jazz and Visual Culture: Playing Jazz in the Visual Field

Saturday March 21st, 2PM

Artists from Mondrian and Matisse to Bearden and Basquiat have used Jazz music as a creative well to draw images from. Jazz as an aesthetic used for visualization has been examined many times by culture critics, however with this lecture presentation Deterville will explore the interdisciplinary intersection between visuality and jazz improvisation with an emphasis on the jazz aesthetic as an African diasporic cultural expression. The visual artwork and illuminated musical scores of jazz musicians Louis Armstrong, Leo Wadada Smith and Anthony Braxton amongst others will be explored as well as the concerns for Jazz music in the work of visual artists.


Sankofa by Senay Alkeboulan, with spoken word by Duane Deterville

This sound piece titled, "sankofa" is a modern take on ancient African rhythm. The piece features spiritual chanting and an electronic recreation of the west African talking drum. This juxtaposition of ancient African rhythm and contemporary electronic production embodies the sound of Afrofuturism. —Senay Alkeboulan


The Afriscape Ghost Dance on Film

NEW DAY & TIME: Friday March 27th, 6pm

Robert Farris Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit was the initial doorway for many artists, writers and visual culture scholars to enter into a deeper understanding of the Kongo-Atlantic world. Chapter two titled, The Sign of the Four Moments of the Sun is a particularly profound section of Thompson’s cornerstone text. It is renown for widely introducing the work of the late great Kongolese scholar/philosopher Dr. Kimbwandende Fu-Kiau to many Africana scholars and for explicating Central African philosophy by using the Ki-Kongo cosmogram. The Kongo notion of kalunga – often depicted as a body of water – as the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the ancestors is an important element in that philosophy. The cosmogram became for many a key hermeneutic image for unpacking trans-Atlantic African-diasporic art. With that ideogram - called the yowa or dikenga in the Ki-Kongo language - a way was opened to a more profound understanding of many African diasporic art forms and images. However, seldom are these Kongo philosophic principles used to inform a critical lens that is applied to the aesthetics of contemporary Black film.

In this presentation Deterville will unpack the compelling imagery in Kahlil Joseph’s short film titled Until the Quiet Comes by applying the notions of Kongo cosmology and philosophy found in Flash of the Spirit. Joseph was the 2013 recipient of the Sundance Film Festival’s Short Film Special Jury Award for his brilliant three minute and fifty second film.  In Until the Quiet Comes he deftly makes use of the talented contemporary turf dancer named Storyboard P to create a film that explores the meaning of life and death in a manner that is in keeping with Kongo Atlantic notions of ancestor veneration. The imagery depicted in his film is of the contemporary Black community in the notorious Los Angeles Nickerson projects. This paper/presentation shows how Kahlil Joseph’s film depicts images of contemporary African diasporic people in a way that illustrates the notions of Kongo cosmology found in Flash of the Spirit and how it tacitly connects the metaphysical spaces illustrated by the Ki-Kongo cosmogram to the everyday spaces of urban Black communities.





Drawing Down Ancestors

Friday, April 3 & Saturday April 4

Live Drawing at Krowswork & Concluding Exhibition of artworks by Deterville & others