Black visuality and the practice of refusal

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72 Scopus citations


What constitutes a practice of refusal? This article engages the practice of refusal collaboratively articulated by the Practicing Refusal Collective, a group founded three years ago by myself and Saidiya Hartman. It does so by unpacking a series of keywords that, I argue, define the contours of an emergent black visuality that itself constitutes a practice of refusal as enacted by two contemporary artists who are creating radical modalities of witnessing that refuse authoritative forms of visuality which function to refuse blackness itself. Focusing on works by Arthur Jafa and Luke Willis Thompson, and viewing them through their use of critical optics of relationality and adjacency, the article explores the affective labor required by their respective cinematic practices and their capacity to engage negation as generative and radically transformative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


  • Apex
  • Arthur Jafa
  • Autoportrait
  • Luke Willis Thompson
  • adjacency
  • affective labor
  • black visuality
  • phonic substance
  • practicing refusal
  • relationality
  • still-moving-images


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