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“The End is the Beginning and Lies Far Ahead”: time and textuality in African American visualizations of the historical past, 1990-2000

Elstob, Isobel

Authors

Isobel Elstob



Contributors

Lawrence Aje
Editor

Nicolas Gachon
Editor

Abstract

This chapter examines artworks produced in the 1990s by Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, and Lorna Simpson that combine historical and contemporary signifiers to visualize American history and its afterlives. Using literary and narratological models of analysis, the chapter discusses the artists’ creative deployment of anachronism, authorial agency, and narrativity in response to postmodernist methods and attitudes towards history’s textual and temporal representation. Focusing on works that combine both images and text, the chapter explores the formal devices used by Weems, Ligon, and Simpson to interrogate the ethical distancing between past and present attitudes and actions that historiographical representation implies. In doing so, the chapter argues that each artist exploits commonly employed representational tropes from the period—such as simulacra, temporal flatness, and intertextuality—in order to subvert established methods of depicting the historical past.

Publication Date 2019
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Book Title Traces and Memories of Slavery in the Atlantic World
Chapter Number 14
Institution Citation Elstob, I. (2019). “The End is the Beginning and Lies Far Ahead”: time and textuality in African American visualizations of the historical past, 1990-2000. In L. Aje, & N. Gachon (Eds.), Traces and Memories of Slavery in the Atlantic WorldTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publisher URL https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429316807/chapters/10.4324/9780429316807-15

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