Visionary Aponte: Art & Black Freedom takes as its point of departure an extraordinary — and now lost — historical artifact: a “Book of Paintings” created by José Antonio Aponte.
Aponte was a free black carpenter, artist, and former soldier who was also the leader of an ambitious antislavery movement in Cuba during the Age of Revolution. During his trial, Aponte was forced to provide testimony describing each of the pictures in his book, which portrayed a wide array of subjects, from Biblical scenes to landscapes to episodes in the history of Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Using those descriptions, contemporary artists working in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media, and textile have reimagined Aponte’s book for our present and future.
Visionary Aponte: Art & Black Freedom is a nine-week art exhibit and accompanying series of conversations, screenings, performances, residencies, and workshops at Duke University organized by the Power Plant Gallery and the Forum for Scholars and Publics. The exhibit is curated by Édouard Duval-Carrié and Ada Ferrer and is based on a digital humanities project called Digital Aponte. The accompanying events have been made possible with support from the following campus and community partners: the Center for Documentary Studies, the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, The Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts — Duke Arts, Arts of the Moving Image, Screen/Society, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, the Duke Dance Program, and Calabasa Calabasa: Dancing and Making the Music of Life.