Faculty Research Talk with Balbir K. Singh
"Notes on Black Constellation: In the Spirit of Shabazz Palaces and Nep Sidhu's A/V Collaboration
The work of the collective Black Constellation demonstrates through multiple forms of art- sonic, visual, textural, and textile- the continuum between the ancient and the modern, the mortal and the divine. Name in 2014 through their major exhibition at Seattle's Frye Art Museum, Black Constellation have collectively shown not only a revolutionary Afro- futurist sensibility, but continue to provoke and make possible new forms of spiritual and creative engagement that center race, gender, sex, and spirit. Some fo the most recent iterations of the Constellation's work are located in the foundational collaboration of Seattle-based hop hop duo Shabazz Palaces and Ontario-based multimedia artist Nep Sidhu. In their A/V collaborations, we see the possibilities of a continuum between the past and present, highlighting the radical ways the music of Shabazz Palaces conujures the undead past while always envisioning futures, visually realized and rendered by Sidhu. In this talk, I examine collaborations between Shabazz and Sidhu in the context of their work within Black Constellation to articulate how their work propels and provokes visionary art and thought, envisioning singular and spectacular continuums from the ancestral and the future divine.
Balbir K. Singh is Assistant Professor of Cultural Theory in the department of Religion and Culture, Core Faculty in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, and Faculty Affiliate in Women's and Gender Studies at VT. She earned her PhD from the University of Washington in 2016, and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Illinois and the University of Texas- Austin. Currently, Balbir is at work on her first book, "Militant Bodies: Violence and Visual Culture Under Islamophobia." Her academic writing can be found in Sikh Formations, Critical Ethnic Studies, and QED.