Refract asked Alessandra Raengo to reflect on her work with liquid blackness, a research group that interrogates blackness as an aesthetic, a way of being, and a methodology for investigating the material and discursive forces that condition how blackness operates today. Through an analysis of Kahlil Joseph’s BLKNWS and Arthur Jafa’s White Album, Raengo unpacks how liquid blackness does not “behave” in the way demanded of it by the rules of exchange, labor, and dispossession that so define black social life. Raengo reflects on the way liquid blackness moves in multiple directions, evading characterization. In other words, it is untranslatable, “it cannot be held in place, but only, and precariously, in sus-pension.”
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Alessandra Raengo is Associate Professor of Moving Image Studies at Georgia State University, founder and coordinator of liquid blackness, a research project on blackness and aesthetics, and Founding Editor of its journal. She is the author of On the Sleeve of the Visual: Race as Face Value (Dartmouth College Press, 2013) and of Critical Race Theory and Bamboozled (Bloomsbury Press, October 2016).