Join us for BGC Late: Jazz & Conversation in the Gallery (the series formerly known as First Wednesdays)! Enjoy cool jazz, warm vibes, and a glass of wine; see our fascinating exhibitions and learn from provocative conversations about the objects on view. At 6pm Gene Perla and the fantastic musicians he brings together, Neil Wetzel on the sax, Vaughn Stoffey on the guitar, and Lenny White on drums, start playing. At 6:30 pm, in our lecture hall at 38 West 86th Street, Joshua I. Cohen leads a conversation with Felix Germain, Meleko Mokgosi, and Jennifer M. Wilks titled Black Art and Activism in Early-20th-Century Paris.


In this panel discussion, artists and scholars consider how to critically reframe early-20th-century avant-garde “primitivism” and the Parisian vogue nègre. Whereas African formal influences on modern art were long construed in the West as unfolding in a historical vacuum, they are now better acknowledged as taking place—not coincidentally—during the colonial period. This was also a period when France and its capital underwent gradual reshaping through an influx of soldiers, workers, artists, and intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora. Far from being “primitive,” African artworks that exerted influence in Europe now stand to be understood as elements of (colonial) modernity. Beginning in the 1920s especially, African-descended activists and cultural producers redirected and contested European fascinations with “black” aesthetics.


More BGC Late: Jazz & Conversation in the Gallery

Thursday, March 5
Breaking Ground: Architecture, Gender, Activism
Curated by Jane Hall and Esther Choi


Thursday, April 2
Music by Gene Perla

Thursday, June 4
Collaboration to Independence in the Work of Eileen Gray: E 1027 to Tempe à Pailla
Curated by Jan Greben
With Caroline Constant and Mary McLeod

Joshua I. Cohen (Ph.D., Columbia University) is an assistant professor of art history at The City College of New York. His first book, The “Black Art” Renaissance: African Sculpture and Modernism across Continents, is forthcoming with the University of California Press (July 2020). His writing has additionally appeared in The Art Bulletin, African Arts, Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Southern African Studies, Burlington Magazine, and Wasafiri.


Dr. Felix Germain is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, he specializes in transnational and cultural history, with an emphasis on France, the Caribbean, West Africa, and the United States. I explore topics such as race relations, colonization, decolonization, postcolonial migration and labor relations, and black social movements and gender relations in Africa and the African Diaspora. My first book, Decolonizing the Republic: African and Caribbean Migrants in Postwar Paris (1946-1974), examines the formation of the African Diaspora in France during a period that French historians call “the glorious thirty”. It chronicles the evolution of Paris from a space fertile for black literacy and artistic production to a city where Caribbean and African labor migrants lived in quasi “exile,” often protesting for better working and living conditions.


Meleko Mokgosi (born in Francistown, Botswana) is an artist, assistant professor of practice at New York University, and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program (https://www.artandtheoryprogram.org). He received his BA from Williams College in 2007 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study program from 2007-2008. Mokgosi then received his MFA from the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California Los Angeles in 2011. He participated in the Rauschenberg Residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva, FL in 2015 and the Artist in Residence Program at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY in 2012. By working across history painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory, Mokgosi creates large-scale project-based installations that interrogate narrative tropes and the fundamental models for the inscription and transmission of history. His artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Botswana National Gallery, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, The University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, Williams College Museum of Art, The Fowler Museum at UCLA, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.


Jennifer M. Wilks
is an associate professor of English, African and African Diaspora Studies, and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism (2008), and her essays and translation work have appeared in African-American Review, Callaloo, Comparative Literature Studies, Modern Fiction Studies, and Small Axe. In spring 2019 Wilks chaired Black Studies at 50: 1968/1969, UT’s second biennial Black Studies conference, and she currently serves as Associate Director of the university’s Warfield Center for African and American Studies. Wilks is at work on two book projects: a history of adaptations of Carmen set in African diasporic contexts and a study of representations of race and apocalypse in contemporary African American and Black European culture. Also an award-winning teacher, Wilks is an inaugural member of the Texas 10, the Texas Exes’ annual recognition of top UT Austin professors.

Music for BGC Late: Jazz & Conversation in the Gallery is guest curated by musician Gene Perla. Perla was raised in New Jersey where he studied classical piano and trombone. After attending Berklee School of Music, he moved to New York and began his musical career as a jazz bassist. He has performed and/or recorded with Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Chuck Mangione, Joni Mitchell, Buddy Rich, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Stone Alliance, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and others. In the early 1970s he formed music publishing and record companies, and his group “Stone Alliance” traveled to South America and Europe, through which he developed experience in management and booking. Perla is also a Broadway sound designer (Tony Award for City of Angels), has expertise in recording studio operations, and is the webmaster for the Jazz Education Network.