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“Have You Ever Seen the Crowd Goin’ Apeshit?”: Disrupting Representations of Animalistic Black Femininity in the French Imaginary

Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Pace University, New York, NY 10038, USA
Humanities 2019, 8(3), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8030135
Received: 10 June 2019 / Revised: 28 July 2019 / Accepted: 6 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unsilencing Black Sexuality in the African Diaspora)
16 June 2018. London Stadium. Beyoncé and Jay–Z revealed the premiere of the music video Apeshit. Filmed inside the Louvre Museum in Paris, Beyoncé’s sexual desirability powerfully dialogues with Western canons of high art that have dehumanized or erased the black female body. Dominant tropes have historically associated the black female body with the realm of nature saddled with an animalistic hypersexuality. With this timely release, Apeshit engages with the growing current debate about the ethic of representation of the black subject in European museums. Here, I argue that Beyoncé transcends the tension between nature and culture into a syncretic language to subvert a dominant imperialistic gaze. Drawing on black feminist theories and art history, a formal analysis traces the genealogy and stylistic expression of this vocabulary to understand its political implications. Findings pinpoint how Beyoncé laces past and present, the regal nakedness of her African heritage and Western conventions of the nude to convey the complexity, sensuality, and humanity of black women—thus drawing a critical reimagining of museal practices and enriching the collective imaginary at large. View Full-Text
Keywords: Beyoncé; black femininity; black sexuality; colonialism; canons of high art; nudity; restitution of cultural capital Beyoncé; black femininity; black sexuality; colonialism; canons of high art; nudity; restitution of cultural capital
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Silberstein, E. “Have You Ever Seen the Crowd Goin’ Apeshit?”: Disrupting Representations of Animalistic Black Femininity in the French Imaginary. Humanities 2019, 8, 135.

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