About the Book
In Anteaesthetics, Rizvana Bradley begins from the proposition that blackness cannot be represented in modernity's aesthetic regime, but is nevertheless foundational to every representation. Troubling the idea that the aesthetic is sheltered from the antiblack terror that lies just beyond its sanctuary, Bradley insists that blackness cannot make a home within the aesthetic, yet is held as its threshold and aporia. The book problematizes the phenomenological and ontological conceits that underwrite the visual, sensual, and abstract logics of modernity.
Moving across multiple histories and geographies, artistic mediums and forms, from nineteenth-century painting and early cinema, to the contemporary text-based works, video installations, and digital art of Glenn Ligon, Mickalene Thomas, and Sondra Perry, Bradley inaugurates a new method for interpretation—an ante-formalism which demonstrates how black art engages in the recursive deconstruction of the aesthetic forms that remain foundational to modernity. Foregrounding the negativity of black art, Bradley shows how each of these artists disclose the racialized contours of the body, form, and medium, even interrogating the form that is the world itself. Drawing from black critical theory, Continental philosophy, film and media studies, art history, and black feminist thought, Bradley explores artistic practices that inhabit the negative underside of form. Ultimately, Anteaesthetics asks us to think philosophically with black art, and with the philosophical invention black art necessarily undertakes.