Fred Moten

American poet, critic and theorist inspiring a generation of artists

‘Study is what you do with other people. It’s talking and walking around with other people, working, dancing, suffering.’ So wrote Moten and Stefano Harney in their landmark 2013 book The Undercommons, which has done much to shape the cultural discourse in the US. Indeed, Moten has become emblematic of the public intellectual whose influence extends beyond his own discipline. A professor in the department of performance studies at New York University, Moten has written significant books on the histories of jazz and poetry, and this year was to be found on symposia at Penn State (‘Racial Disposability and Cultures of Resistance’), Princeton (‘Poetics of Violence’), the European Graduate School (‘Black Thought: Physics, Poetics, Sociology’), lending support to the New Museum Union and collaborating with an ensemble formed by artists Wu Tsang and boychild. Meanwhile, the wider artworld is adopting a language of collaboration, representation and resistance that Moten helped to codify.