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LIVE from the NYPL: ANCIENT TO FUTURE: SHARIFA RHODES-PITTS and SIMONE LEIGH, a conversation with Claire Barliant

March 6, 2012

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With her book Harlem Is Nowhere, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts set out to write a new political, spiritual and creative geography of black America, where past and present are always colliding. Simone Leigh's videos and sculptures have been described as "relics of the future," drawn from varied sources including colonialist tracts, science fiction, and 1960s Black Arts Movement manifestos. In a conversation moderated by writer Claire Barliant, Rhodes-Pitts and Leigh will discuss their mutual interest in history, memory, and legacy.

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts: Harlem is Nowhere is the first book in Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts’ trilogy about African Americans and utopia. Published in January 2011, the book was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Harper’s, Vogue, and Essence. Originally from Houston, Texas, she graduated in 2000 from Harvard University and was a Fulbright Scholar in the United Kingdom.

Simone Leigh creates ceramic works, videos and installations informed by her interest in African art, ethnographic research, feminism and performance art. Her solo show, You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been, curated by Rashida Bumbray, is currently on view at The Kitchen, and she will have a solo exhibition at Tilton Gallery, New York in May 2012. She has exhibited work in New York, Vienna, Rabbat, Pittsburgh, and Cape Town and was an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2010–11.

Claire Barliant is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Triple Canopy, Time Out New York, Artforum, Art in America, and the art section of The New Yorker’s “Goings On About Town.” She has worked as an associate editor of Artforum and an executive editor of Modern Painters. She has given public lectures at the 2010 College Art Association conference and at Dia:Beacon. Barliant is currently an adjunct professor at New York University and Parsons, School for Design, and a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art.


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LIVE from the NYPL is made possible with generous support from Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.