Nottingham Contemporary
30 Sep - 9 Dec 2020
Richard Bernstein, Inside Gatefold for Muse, 1979. Courtesy of The Estate of Richard Bernstein / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.

What imaginaries do Grace Jones’ visual and sonic performances unfold?

In this series, we listen out for contemporary literary and academic voices that rehearse, record, and resound Jones’ contributions to black and queer imaginaries, looking at the role of music and performance in creating communities of affect and resilience.

The series references Jones' third and final disco album Muse, thought to have been unsuccessful due to Disco Demolition Night, a 1979 anti-black, anti-queer protest against disco music where protestors set fire to hundreds of disco records. Disguised as backlash from rock music fans, the event forced disco underground, steering a lasting shift in the direction of popular music.

Listen to Nigerian-British author Irenosen Okojie read her short-story Grace Jones, winner of the AKO Caine prize for African writing 2020; British-Eritrean musician Desta Hailé reading excerpts from her upcoming book, Black Beauty Model Agency (Independently published, 2021); performance studies scholar, Ricardo Montez reading an excerpt from the chapter ‘Theory Made Flesh?: Keeping Up with Grace Jones’ from his newly released Keith Haring’s Line: Race and the Performance of Desire (Duke University Press, 2020); British cultural theorist Mark Fisher’s ‘I, the Object’, from his influential blog k-punk; ‘I feel Love: Disco and its Discontents’ by Tavia Nyong’o; and art critic Douglas Crimp’s acclaimed DISSS-CO (A Fragment): From Before Pictures, A Memoir of 1970s New York (MoMA PS1, 2016).

Wed 30 Sep: Irenosen Okojie, ‘Grace Jones’ Nudibranch, read by the author.

Wed 14 Oct: Mark Fisher, ‘I, The Object’, read by a member of 1525.

Wed 28 Oct: Desta Hailé, excerpt from Black Beauty Model Agency, read by the author.

Wed 11 Nov: Ricardo Montez, an excerpt from Keith Haring’s Line: Race and the Performance of Desire, read by the author.

Wed 25 Nov: Tavia Nyong’o, ‘I feel Love: Disco and its Discontents’, read by a member of 1525.

Wed 9 Dec: Douglas Crimp, DISSS-CO (A Fragment): From Before Pictures, A Memoir of 1970s New York, read by a member of 1525.

Douglas Crimp was an art historian, activist and Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History and Professor of Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. His research centred around postmodern theories of art, institutional critique, and queer theory. He is the author of AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism (1988), On the Museum’s Ruins (1993), Melancholia and Moralism – Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics (2002), and Before Pictures (2016).
Mark Fisher was a writer, cultural theorist and philosopher based in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Fisher wrote extensively on radical politics, music and popular culture for publications including The Wire, Fact and New Statesman, and received acclaim for his blogging as K-punk in the early 2000s. He is the author of Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (2009), Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (2014) and Post-Punk Then and Now (2016). He was the co-founder of Zero Books and Repeater Books.

Desta Hailé is a writer, vocalist and educator. She is the Creative Director of Languages through Music and co-founder of Sisters Only Language Summit. Hailé is the author of York to Teheran (2020), which won the 2020 To Speak Europe in Different Languages prize, and the upcoming publication Black Beauty Model Agency (2021).

Tavia Nyong’o is Chair and Professor of Theater & Performance Studies at Yale University. He is the author of The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (2009) and Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life (2018), and of numerous articles in black and queer art, music, literature and performance. A long serving member of the Social Text collective, he co-edits the Sexual Cultures book series from NYU Press.

Ricardo Montez is Associate Professor of Performance Studies at The New School. His research examines the performance of race, ethnicity and sexuality in visual culture and media. He was a Faculty Fellow in Latino Studies at New York University and held the Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellowship in Race and Ethnicity Studies in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University. His book, Keith Haring’s Line: Race and the Performance of Desire (2020), considers cross-racial desire in Haring’s life and art.

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and the author of Butterfly Fish (2015), the recipient of the 2016 Betty Trask Award, and Speak Gigantular (2016), a short story collection shortlisted for the 2016 inaugural Jhalak Prize and the 2017 Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She was fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. Her new collection of stories, Nudibranch (Dialogue Books, 2019) was longlisted for the 2020 Jhalak Prize and the included story ‘Grace Jones’ won the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing. Okojie’s upcoming novel, Curandera, will be published by Dialogue Books in 2022.