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This project is charged with the illumination and application of Jacques Ranciere’s theory of the distribution of the sensible and regimes of art in the examination of the historical posturing of black masculinity and what I propose as the new slavery inherent in mass incarceration. Paramount to this survey is the retrospection of the dialectic work of Kara Walker who is said to have desecrated black testament of freedom while contriving white desire. Contrary to this I argue Walker as artist-philosopher and her work as having the potential for the emancipation of the black man. Dissentient in nature Walker draws a comparison to the revolutionary comportment of Harriet Tubman and Nat Turner in the legislation of violence lodged against the archetypes of the master/slave narrative of history in her indispensable commission for the souls of black men. The distribution of the sensible is understood as the configuration of the sensible world as an ethical ought in the cartography of the Platonian republic as “living speech.” The silhouette participates in this discourse as the concatenation of knowledge and the soul vis-a-vis Plato. In this partitioning lies the birth of the Other as colonized thought. Knowledge as an epistemological grid shapes the discourse and terrain governing the black man as Other assigning him historically as an inferior product. The psychological predisposition of the black man as inferior is performed in history and recapitulated through the representative regime ad infinitum. The problem is the question concerning history as immutable law. How has law and legislation failed the black man in his procuration of freedom? I argue that the emancipation of the black man will be accomplished through an aesthetic education in his return to the primal scene of history as history. What comportment does genius have in this most critical excavation? How does art as knowledge participate in this intervention? Art is no abstract concept of community but its substratum taking form. How is form imperious to the fashioning of black masculinity, or at that Heidegger’s nothing?


Aesthetics | Art Practice | Arts and Humanities | Cultural History


Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts


Portland ME

The Black Veil of Freedom: On Kara Walker and the Aesthetic Education of the Black Man


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