Upcoming Events

Disorienting the Gaze: Ngozi Onwurah’s Early Films

Research Lunch – Ana S. González

  • 19 February 2021
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm
  • Online Event

This paper investigates the forms of control that modernity/coloniality exercises on knowledge, the senses, and perception. It concentrates on Ngozi Onwurah’s early films: The Body Beautiful (1990) – held at Central Saint Martins’ British Artists’ Film and Video Collection – and her graduation film Coffee-Coloured Children (1988). Initially concerned with how the films complicate the dominant model of perception as a form of appropriation, the analysis concentrates on Onwurah’s disorienting critical strategies.

The first section – Bodies – concentrates on The Body Beautiful and its reflection on illness, drawing from feminist poet and activist Audre Lorde’s account of her experience of breast cancer and mastectomy. It also delves into the film’s depiction of the changing relationship between mother and daughter amidst a complex web of conflicting ways of looking.

The second section – Times – considers how Onwurah’s films respond to ‘the most tumultuous decade of Britain’s domestic racial history’ (Akala, 2019), as well as their relevance today. This section addresses the shift from ‘the struggle over the relations of representation to a politics of representation itself’ (Hall, 1992). That is, the process in which critical practices went beyond questions of access, started unsettling either/or thinking and actively producing identity. In particular, it explores how Onwurah’s films prompt us to unlearn our seeing, thinking, and feeling habits. The paper reflects on the discussions of a film and reading group at University of the Arts London, which introduced a bell hooks-inspired pedagogy and explored conversation as a place of learning. It intends to move away from art history’s usual colonisation or settling of its objects through the attachment of meaning. The paper adopts intersectionality as a ‘provisional concept’ to examine the past’s bearing on the present and the future. As an ‘analytic sensibility’ (Carastathis, 2016), intersectionality disorients entrenched cognitive and perceptual habits, encourages both/and thinking, and indicates the work still to be done.

Guidelines for users attending Zoom webinars

Before the webinar

● Please download Zoom software in advance.

● Please register to attend the Research Lunch webinar through Eventbrite.

● We will share the link to the Zoom webinar with you in advance by email through Eventbrite.

● If you require closed captioning during this event, please get in touch at least two weeks before the event date.

During the event

● Paul Mellon Centre staff hosting the event will employ the appropriate security features to help ensure that events and meetings operate safely.

● There will be a waiting room feature that allows the host to control when all participants join the meeting.

● You will be automatically muted when you join the webinar and can only communicate verbally if the host unmutes you.

● The talk will last for 30–40 minutes and will be followed by a Q&A where the chair will prompt discussion.

● Use the Q&A box to ask/write your questions after the talk.

● You can also use the virtual raise hand button if you have a question/comment to make by audio.

● Use the chat box to make comments.

● If you are experiencing any technical problems, please notify Ella Fleming (events manager) or Danielle Convey (events assistant) directly using the chat box function. Alternatively you can email them via events@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.

● The Paul Mellon Centre will not take photographs of this event and participants are requested likewise not to do so.

● This session will not be recorded.

● Any offensive behaviour will not be tolerated and attendees can be removed from the webinar by the host.

GDPR

The Paul Mellon Centre is aware of its obligations under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and is committed to processing your data securely and transparently.

For more information on how the Centre processes personal information see our privacy policy. https://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/about/privacy-policy

For more information on Zoom’s compliance with EU GDPR see: https://zoom.us/gdpr.

 

Image: Still from The Body Beautiful by Ngozi Onwurah, 1990. Digital image courtesy of Women Make Movies

About the speaker

  • Ana González

    Ana S González Rueda holds a PhD in Museum and Gallery Studies from the School of Art History, University of St Andrews (2019). Her doctoral dissertation examines the kinds of learning that take place within contemporary art exhibitions and puts forward the value of posthumanist, feminist, and decolonial pedagogies to curatorial practice today. Her recent publications include: ‘Possessing Nature: the Mexican Pavilion as a Site of Critical Analysis’ in the Journal of Curatorial Studies (Autumn 2020), and ‘Meaningful Matter: Testing Feminist Pedagogies in the Exhibition Space’, part of the latest volume on the Deviant Practice research platform at the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven, Netherlands). Ana has taught at the University of St Andrews and the University of Essex. She is a Researcher in Residence at the Decolonising Arts Institute, University of the Arts London (2020). She is also currently working as Research Assistant of EU-LAC Museums, a project focused on community museology in Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean; as well as Community Crafts.