Nero su Bianco – The American Academy in Rome

Tomorrow, 26 May at 7-9pm, the group exhibition Nero su Bianco curated by Lyle Ashton Harris, Robert Storrand Peter Benson Miller opens at The American Academy in Rome. On this occasion NERO has published a book in conjunction with the exhibition with text by Mark Robbins, Robert Storr, Lyle Ashton Harris, Frank M. Snowden, III, Taiye Selasi, Vincenzo Latronico, Christian Caliandro, Claudia Durastanti, and Peter Benson Miller. The book is a provocative interrogation of race and identity in contemporary Italy envisioned by visual artists, scholars and writers from Africa, Europe and the United States exploring new forms of subjectivity and agency shaped by history, immigration and integration, the legacy of colonialism and persistent stereotypes.

Features artists include: Terry Adkins, Francesco Arena, Bridget Baker, Elisabetta Benassi, Adam Broomberg/Oliver Chanarin, Alessandro Ceresoli, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Onyedika Chuke, Theo Eshetu, Lyle Ashton Harris, Emily Jacir, Invernomuto, Vincenzo Latronico/Armin Linke, Meleko Mokgosi, Senam Okudzeto, Jebila Okongwu, Pietro Ruffo, Lorna Simpson, Giuseppe Stampone, Justin Randolph Thompson, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, Stanley Whitney, Fred Wilson.

The American Academy in Rome has long played host to artists who subvert and problematize conventional narratives and histories. Accordingly, it is a fitting venue for an international survey of multiple perspectives on radical shifts in private and public perceptions of identity, particularly regarding subjectivity and agency within the African-American, African-European, and African spheres. The questions raised by Nero su Bianco, in turn, call for a fundamental reconsideration of the historical idea of the Academy, underscoring the need to recast and galvanize “the canon” and position the institution as a forum for open discussion and constructive debate about ethnic and cultural hybridity in the world generally, in Europe particularly, and in Italy even more specifically. Taking advantage of the intellectual and creative community at the Academy, the project envisions a series of conversations between visual artists and scholars that engage these issues in a critical dialogue.

As an overview and assessment of the past several decades, Nero su Bianco features work by an international group of artists—many of them closely affiliated with the Academy. Its intent is to take the cultural, social, and political temperature in Italy today. With that goal, the exhibition examines and questions key sites, paying special attention to their historical origins and legacies and the conditions and modes of production that shaped them.

Nero su Bianco coincides with Black Portraiture{s} II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories, a conference organized by New York University in collaboration with Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research, to be held at New York University in Florence – Villa La Pietra on 28–31 May 2015.

A series of public events connected to Nero su Bianco will occur on Thursday’s beginning in June. Please check back for updates.

The exhibition is made possible by the Syde Hurdus Foundation.  Additional support is provided by Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins. The catalogue is made possible by the DEPART Foundation. Program support is provided by the Embassy of the United States of America.

The American Academy in Rome – Via Angelo Masina 5, Rome
Opening Tuesday 26 May at 7-9pm –  19 July 2015