Tina Campt, a noted Black feminist theorist of visual culture and contemporary art, joined the faculty of Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology and the Lewis Center for the Art’s Program in Visual Arts as the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities in a joint appointment on July 1. Campt will be teaching courses in contemporary art and theory, film and media, gender and sexuality studies, vernacular photography and the archive, the visual culture of the Black diaspora, and Black visuality and the racial and sexual politics of viewing and visibility.
Starting in the spring, she will launch a new initiative at Princeton, The Collaboratorium: A Studio for Radical Aesthetics.
Campt most recently served as the Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, where she led the Black Visualities Initiative at the Cogut Institute for Humanities. She is a founding researcher in Black European studies, as well as the lead convenor of the Practicing Refusal Collective and the Sojourner Project.Campt has published five books, Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich (2004); Image Matters: Archive, Photography, and the African Diaspora in Europe (2012); Listening to Images (2017); Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography (with Marianne Hirsch, Gil Hochberg and Brian Wallis, Steidl, 2020), recipient of the Photography Catalogue of the Year Award by Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation; and, most recently, The Black Gaze (2021).
“Tina’s work has profoundly changed the ways we think about relationships between Blackness and visuality,” said Judith Hamera, professor of dance and chair of the Lewis Center. “She models a bold and rigorous interdisciplinarity that is as keenly attuned to history and contemporary conditions as it is to aesthetic particulars. An intellectual polymath herself, she is an exceptionally energetic, visionary collaborator across multiple modes of creative and scholarly production. We warmly welcome her to the Lewis Center community, and eagerly anticipate the connections she will forge with new and current partners in and beyond the Princeton campus.”
"As a leading voice in the arts and humanities, Professor Campt has been an essential participant in the most urgent conversations for all of us—as students, scholars, and global citizens—about race, racism, and the relationship of histories of dispossession to the conditions of the present day,” adds Rachael Z. DeLue, the Christopher Binyon Sarofim ’86 Professor in American Art and chair of the Department of Art and Archaeology. “She brings to Princeton a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary perspective on contemporary art and culture, and her innovative scholarly methods will facilitate exciting and generative intellectual collaborations across multiple departments and programs, while strengthening the ties among the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Department of Art and Archaeology, and the Program in Visual Arts. We are thrilled to welcome her to campus and look forward to the innovative thinking, making, and collaborating she will galvanize as a member of the Princeton University community.”
During the 2021-22 academic year, Campt served as a visiting professor at Princeton, teaching both undergraduates and graduate students and initiating cross-disciplinary collaborations among faculty, students, and visitors that explored the radical possibilities and transformative potential of aesthetic collaboration in the 21st century. These activities included an exhibition of student work, a conversation with artist Cameron Rowland and scholar Saidiya Hartman, as well as screenings and dialogues with award-winning filmmakers John Akomfrah, Onye Anyanwu, Khalil Joseph, and Bradford Young.
“Tina’s appointment at Princeton is a historic moment for the Lewis Center,” said Jeff Whetstone, director of the Program in Visual Arts. “Her book, Listening to Images, has quickly become required reading in art programs across the nation, as it is in my own photography classes. Her approach to teaching centers the creative possibilities of collaboration. Collaborative synergy was evident in “Radical Composition,” a class Tina taught last spring as a visiting professor. The students’ final exhibition, Visual Frequencies, was stunning. Tina’s approach to teaching made the students feel that they were a part of something bigger, deeper, and more exciting than their own personal creative work. For Tina, collaboration is more than just a teaching strategy, it’s a philosophy; and one we share at the Program for Visual Arts.”
As she describes it, Campt’s Collaboratorium is “driven by ideas and imagination. Unlike earlier invocations of the term in the context of scientific inquiry, empirical or quantitative research and data are not its primary driver. Conceived as a studio space modeled on the artist’s studio, it is a platform for incubating collaborative thinking and making that merges theory with practice.” The Collaboratorium will convene multidisciplinary and multi-modal configurations of writers, thinkers, activists, and makers interested in exploring the radical possibilities and transformative potential of reinventing aesthetics through innovative practices of making and thinking about art.
“I am delighted to join the vibrant community of faculty that comprises the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Department of Art and Archaeology,” said Campt, “and I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with student researchers and makers in ways that encourage them to bridge these two rich programs in meaningful ways. Princeton is wonderfully fertile ground for building collaborations between artists and scholars and look forward to exploring the many exciting possibilities such collaborations hold for the future.
Established in 1986, the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities has been held previously by Joyce Carol Oates (1986-2015) and Tracy K. Smith (2016-2021).