Obstructed bodies, fugitive bodies, artistic imaginations and political commitments

Dialogues Afriques #3

Thursday, January 09 2020, at 06:00 pm

Auditorium - Cité internationale des arts
Links (1) Our partners


From slavery to prison, African-American bodies are still under the yoke of an oppressive and racist system. Artistic action, accompanied by the creative act, allows these bodies to reverse this process of alienation, an emancipation that is possible thanks to the persistence of imagination that is at work in any creative process and especially when associated with a political commitment. 

Based from this observation, Elvan Zabunyan questions several contemporary artistic practices. She will particularly focus her attention on performance and film, in order to understand how these productions reflect on the notion of freedom.


Elvan Zabunyan, a Contemporary Art historian, is a Professor at the University of Rennes 2 and art critic. Her research explores North American art since the 1960s, with a particular focus on racial and feminist issues in the 1970s. Since the early 1990s, she has been working on questions arising from Cultural Studies, Postcolonial theories and Gender Studies, seeking to build, through these critical thoughts, a methodology for a connected history of Contemporary Art grounded in colonial, cultural, social and political history.


Seminar of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales presented by Christine Douxami, Sarah Fila-Bakabadio, Katja Gentric, Dominique Malaquais and Julie Peghini (with the support of the Ecole Universitaire de Recherche ARTEC and a government grant from the National Research Agency under the Investissements d’avenir programme ANR-17-EURE-0008) in the context of a seminar series titled Arts in Africa and the Diasporas: practices, knowledge, mobility.

In parallel, the international conference Africa(s): Urban utopias, performative utopias will be held from June 4 to 6, 2020 at the Cité internationale des arts and at the Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine.


Featured Resources

Discover below the resources presented by Elvan Zabunyan during the session:


Mumia Abu Jamal

• Assata Shakur

• Common

• Angela Davis

• Attica, émeutes septembre 1971

• I can’t breathe, Eric Garner RIP

• Shaun Leonardo, I Can’t Breathe, 2015. A participatory public workshop and performance.

• Schaun Leonardo, Primitive Games, June 2018, Guggenheim Museum. 

• Mirror-Echo-Tilt, exhibition at the New Museum by Melanie Crean, Shaun Leonardo & Sable Elyse Smith, New York, 2019

Practical Information

Free admission, within the limits of maximum capacity.

See Also