In “The Profound Power of the New Solange Videos,” Cassie da Costa writes that, “There is some creative form of production I understand as having to do with blackness, which somehow exists within the endlessly connected black diaspora, but many of those links—between black artists, between works of art and their black creators, and even between countries and continents—have seemed stretchy if not tenuous.” Through the concept of liquidity, the research collective of liquid blackness attempts to document the unruly genealogy of a black aesthetic, precisely as da Costa describes. The idea of the liquidity of blackness emerges both from an observation of salient contemporary aesthetic forms as well as a sort of thought experiment. If, as Harry Elam has argued, blackness does indeed “travel on its own,” then what aesthetic arrangements have become possible as a result of that? As a tentative answer, the most recent research projects of liquid blackness have attempted to trace the influence of the collective body of works now known as the L.A. Rebellion on a younger generation of black filmmakers including Arthur Jafa (who was part of it through his collaboration with Julie Dash in Daughters of the Dust) and Kahlil Joseph and likewise to highlight the importance of the music video format as an alternative platform of dissemination and distribution. Indeed, perhaps paradoxically where the proper terms of the lineage seem the least transparent, such as da Costa observes of the difficulty of clearly delineating a black aesthetic, is the work of the archive most necessary. The concept of liquidity is intended to suggest the very slipperiness of this conceptual work—that is, the work blackness as an aesthetics demands and engenders.

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