2021 Manthia Diawara and Terri Geis

Manthia Diawara and Terri Geis

The Dedalus Foundation’s 2021 Senior Fellowship has been awarded to Manthia Diawara and Terri Geis for their book project Cutting, Folding, Connecting: Ted Joans and International Modernisms.           

Diawara and Geis’s project explores the work of artist and poet Ted Joans (1928 - 2003), tracing his significance as a conduit between multiple modernist movements in the United States and throughout the world, including postwar Surrealism, the Beat Generation, and the Black Arts Movement. Surrealism was especially important to Joans; as he wrote in a letter to André Breton: “Qui suis-je? ... I am an Afro-American and my name is Ted Joans ... Without surrealism I would have been incapable of surviving the abject vicissitudes and racial violence which the white man in America imposed upon me every day. Surrealism became the weapon I used to defend myself.” Cutting, Folding, Connecting examines Joans’s process of adapting the visual art techniques of the exquisite corpse and collage to language, and explores how these techniques provided him with a means for expressing defiance, anti-racism, and anti-colonialism, as well as collaborative celebration.

Manthia Diawara is a writer, cultural theorist, film director, and scholar from Mali based in the United States. He is Professor of Comparative Literature and Cinema at New York University, and has written several books and essays on the films, literature, and visual art of the Black Diaspora.

Terri Geis is an independent art historian whose work focuses on women artists affiliated with Surrealism and on the intersections between Surrealism and the Americas. She has written on the movement’s connections in Mexico and with Afro-Caribbean art and culture.

Image: Ted Joans, Outograph Paste-up Postcard, 1993. Estate of Ted Joans, courtesy Laura Corsiglia.