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DemCP colloquium (co-hosted by AiS) - NATALIE ZELT (Terra Foundation for American Art Photography Fellow at Rijksmuseum): "Tacit Entanglements: Race and the Limits of American Photography"

When:We 14-04-2021 16:00 - 17:15

This colloquium of the Research Centre for Democratic Cultures and Politics is co-hosted by the Research Centre for Arts in Society.

Natalie Zelt, Terra Foundation for American Art Photography Fellow at Rijksmuseum
Tacit Entanglements: Race and the Limits of American Photography


This lecture introduces ongoing research in the ways European fine arts institutions define national identity and art of the United States. What are the transnational stakes of a museum’s contemporary collecting practices in the mechanics of belonging? How is curatorial practice also a process of naming and writing history? Looking to the Rijksmuseum’s photographic collection and its 15-year commitment to acquiring photography of the United States with the goal of presenting the first comprehensive survey of the history of American photography in Europe, we can begin to parse out the role of race in determining what counts as “American” in photography and in a Dutch national arts institute. This lecture will outline key questions raised at this phase of research regarding scope, audience, and the institutional difficulties of engaging with the complex history of both a medium and a national identity so intimately intertwined with racial formation.

About the speaker

Natalie Zelt is the Terra Foundation for American Art Photography Fellow at the Rijksmuseum. She is a specialist in the history of art of the United States with a focus on photography and critical race and gender studies. She earned her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin. Zelt has worked as a curator for more than a decade, independently, as founding member of the anti-racist feminist collective INGZ, and for institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Zelt is the author of several articles on photography and identity in the United States and her manuscript Looking and Looking Back: The Photography, Race, and Self-Representation in the Work of LaToya Ruby Frazier, Mickalene Thomas, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby is in development for publication. She currently lives and works in Amsterdam.