Date & Time

31 May 22 - 01 January 70

18:30 PM - 00:00 AM


When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration as Representation of Self

With speakers Ashraf Jamal (South African academic, writer and cultural analyst),Keyna Eleison (curator, researcher and professor at Parque Lage School of Visual Arts, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)   and Huey Copeland (BFC Presidential Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, United States)

Looking back on a broad spectrum of global cultural movements toward Black liberation in the 20th century, there has been a representational imperative of Black figurative art and exhibition histories that assert the political impact of Black identity, aesthetics and philosophy.

As part of Zeitz MOCAA’s webinar series in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), University of Cape Town (UCT), our third session of the When We See Us webinar series asks how and why Black figuration offers a space for the projection of new vocabularies and shared imaginaries in the representation of the self.

Conceived by Zeitz MOCAA in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the When We See Us webinar series precedes a major exhibition of the same name, opening in November 2022. The exhibition, along with its accompanying programming, of which the webinar series is part, will attempt to unveil the deeper historic contexts and networks of a complex and underrepresented genealogy that stems from African and Black modernities and spans several generations from the early 20th century to the present.

Zeitz MOCAA’s curatorial and exhibition programming is generously supported by GUCCI.

The series is free and will take place via Zoom. No registration is required.


Huey Copeland, PhD, BFC Presidential Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Huey Copeland is BFC Presidential Associate Professor in History of Art (Africana Studies) at the University of Pennsylvania. Copeland’s interdisciplinary work explores African/diasporic, American and European art from the late 18th century to the present with an emphasis on articulations of Blackness in the Western visual field. In particular, his research homes in on the vexed intersections of race and gender, subject and object, the aesthetic and its others from a Black feminist perspective that aims to put pressure on the blind spots and conventions of modernist art history.


Ashraf Jamal, academic, writer and cultural theorist

Ashraf Jamal is a research Associate in the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre at the University of Johannesburg. He is the author of In the World: Essays on Contemporary South African Art, co-author of Art in South Africa: The Future Present and co-editor of Indian Ocean Studies: Cultural, Social and Political Perspectives. Jamal is also the author of Predicaments of Culture in South Africa, Love Themes for the Wilderness and the award-winning short fiction The Shades. His most recent book of forty essays – written between 2019 and 2021 and titled Strange Cargo: Essays on Art – was launched in March 2022.

Image: Gavin Firlonger


Keyna Eleison, curator, researcher and professor at Parque Lage School of Visual Arts

Keyna Eleison is a curator, writer, love researcher, heiress Griot and shaman, narrator, singer and ancient chronicler. Eleison holds a Master of Art in History and a Bachelor of Philosophy. She specialises in art history and architecture. She is a member of the African Heritage Commission for laureation of the Valongo Wharf region as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a curator of the 10th SIART International Biennal, Bolivia. Currently, Eleison is a contributor to Contemporary & magazine and a professor in the Free Learning Program at Parque Lage School of Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



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