Research and Curatorial Interests
Nana’s work primarily centres around four themes:
Cultural Shifts and how they articulate themselves through the intersections of Art, Politics and Popular Culture,
Artistic productions from the Black Diasporas
curatorial practice as a research tool to shape art historical discourses
Critical Pedagogy in relationship to Decolonial Aesthetics.
She has articulated these interests through her academic work, the development of performative Lectures&Workshops as well as curatorial projects.
Nana Adusei-Poku, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University, New Haven. She was previously Assistant Professor in African Diasporic Art History in the Department of History of Art at the University of California Berkeley and Term Associate Professor and Luma Foundation Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2019-2022), and Visiting Professor in Art History of the African Diaspora at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City (2018-2019). She also held the position Research Professor for Cultural Diversity (2013-2014) and then for Visual Cultures (2015-2017) at the Hogeschool Rotterdam with affiliation to the Piet Zwart Institute and the Willem de Kooning Academy and was a Guest Lecturer in Media Arts and Master Fine Arts at the University of the Arts, Zurich (2012-2018). She received her Ph.D. from Humboldt University Berlin for her thesis on post-black art as part of the Graduate program called “Gender as a category of Knowledge”, following degrees in African Studies and Gender Studies at Humboldt University, and in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Adusei-Poku is immersed in the void, the abyss, and sunken places and how those articulate themselves in texts, bodies, images, and relations. The question “What are the conditions of our existence”, which Stuart Hall asked, remains core to her journey and inspires her to embody and develop an engaged pedagogical approach and to explore the performativity of nothingness and life “in the hold”. Her research on Cultural Shifts and how they articulate themselves through the intersections of Art, Politics, and Popular Culture; Artistic productions from the Black Diasporas, and curatorial practice as a research tool to shape art historical discourses.
She is the curator of the exhibition Black Melancholia at the CCS Bard Galleries, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York 2022, and curated a.o. the event Performances of No-thingness at the Academy of Arts Berlin in 2018 and the program: Longing on a Large Scale in conjunction with Todd Gray's Exhibition Euclidean Gris Gris at Pomona College Museum of Art 2019-2020. No Humans Involved was her first co-curated project at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, which she realized during her curatorial fellowship in 2015.
She is the editor of the forthcoming book Reshaping the Field: Art of the African Diasporas on Display which Afterall will publish. The book expands the field of exhibition histories through a selection of pioneering exhibitions that have shaped Black art today. Emphasizing how Black artists have organized, networked, and created space for their work, it is the first publication to focus exclusively on African diasporic art in the US and UK through the histories of Black art exhibitions. Through a range of contributions by artists, art historians, curators, and theorists, this publication reflects on the sociopolitical circumstances that were essential to the emergence of a field of study and mode of exhibition that is constantly reshaping itself and challenging normative orders.
Her first Monograph Taking Stakes in the Unknown: Tracing Post-Black Art contextualizes the term “post-Black” in its socio-historic and cultural contexts. It examines the legacy of Thelma Golden’s 2001 exhibition, “Freestyle,” and the works of participating artists who were defined as part of the “post-black” generation: Mark Bradford, Leslie Hewitt, Mickalene Thomas, and Hank Willis Thomas whilst expanding the discourse through the Black German artist Philip Metz.
Her articles have been published in Nka- Journal of Contemporary African Art, eflux, Kunstforum International, Flashart!, L’Internationale, multitudes, Darkmatter, Afterall, and Yale Theater Magazine a.o. and translated in English, German, Portuguese, French, and Swedish.
Adusei-Poku has been a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana, Legon; the London School of Economics; Columbia University, New York, and a Fellow at the Goethe Institute in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.