Showing posts from June, 2010

Africa(n Art) Recently on German TV

German TV report about the exhibition Who Knows Tomorrow. In German and I don’t quite know for how long it will be available. For now, find it here.

El Anatsui and the other artists do speak in English and French anyway (its dubbed but you can kind of make out what’s said still) and as for the comment and the the curator Udo Kittelmann’s remarks … I might have a go at a transcript/translation later but meanwhile here’s a summary of Kittelmann’s contributions which I suspect are the most relevant for anyone reading this:

He repeated again (ca. 3 mins) how El Anatsui’s work in particular raises interesting questions about the identity of artists. After all, the Alte Nationalgalerie was perceived as a museum for German artists (this is still clearly expressed in the dedication across the entrance), in other words, with national(ist) categories in mind, categories that he believes cannot be sustained nowadays. With regard to Shonibare’s works in the Friedrichswerdersche Kirche the commentator emphasized how in this particular context his installations remind us of the complicity of the church in the European colonial endeavor (ca. 4:43 mins). Then Kittelmann explains that he believes that until today we (by which I guess he particularly means Germans) know particularly little about Africa and how this exhibition should be seen as an opportunity to raise the question(s) why this is the case. The next time Kittelmann comments it is with regard to Ole’s rejection of the label ‘African artist’ (ca. 9:20 mins). In this regard he reminds German audiences that ‘when we speak of Africa we do speak of a continent, after all we do not speak of Asian artists, we do in fact distinguish and talk of an artist from Thailand, an Indian artist etc. Only with regard to African artists we still tend to identify them as African artists.’

Now, let me go back to my PhD and maybe, but only maybe transcribe the whole program later … Oh, and if you do actually speak/hear German, there recently were two programs on the same channel recently: Marietta Slomka, a German journalist without – as far as I know – particular background in Africa/reporting from Africa - travels through the continent. At times you can pick up some English in the background ... anyway, here's part one and part two.

JOB: Museum of World Cultures

This just came into my inbox and might be of interest to one or the other reading this … You can find more information here.

Museum of World Cultures

The Museum of World Cultures (MWK) in Frankfurt am Main is looking to employ a Press and Marketing Officer.

Deadline for applications:
5 July 2010

I finished this last draft chapter ... so, here's some fun reading!

I finished this last chapter. Yes, I did. I send it off Wednesday morning. I’m not proud of it. I think it’s awful. Or rather, I thought. Then I met my supervisor. He’s not exactly saying it’s brilliant. Indeed, he believes it’s over-burdened with detail that will irritate my examiners and distracts from my actual argument. It will need editing then, editing down and moving a lot of the historical and curriculum detail into the appendix – this way, he reckons, I can focus on my argument and still show off that I’ve done my homework. And, as soon as I’ve done it, he told me to go and have fun. No, not of the having a social life in the sun kind (it’s been raining anyway) but with my chapter. Stop being anxious about this, relax and write about the stuff you enjoy, write about the artists you’ve spoken to, write about what they said, write about the kind of works they produce … Sounds like fun, geek's fun, but then, I'm writing a PhD so at some level I must be some kind of geek. And its fun. Really. Most of the time.

So, here I am having fun with my research. Reading Jeremy Prestholdt’ article on The Afterlives of 2Pac: Imagery and Alienation in Sierra Leone and Beyond (Journal of African Cultural Studies, Volume 21, Issue 2 December 2009, pages 197 – 218) and Ogbechie’s blog among others. If you got any interest in contemporary African arts and how the canon, at least with regard to the perception of contemporary African arts in North America and Europe is concerned, is constructed, you should have look at his latest post: The Curator as Culture Broker (A Critique of the Curatorial Regime of Okwui Enwezor in the Discourse of Contemporary African Art). Agree or disagree, it’s an interesting read. Here just the first paragraph as a taster:

What is the meaning of Enwezor’s curatorial work and how does it affect the kind of knowledge emerging in the discourse of contemporary African art? Enwezor’s curatorial practice of the past decade is one of the most significant developments in the discourse of contemporary African art. It has succeeded in validating this context of practice in contemporary art while ironically negating a critical engagement with the history and development of modern and contemporary art in Africa itself, or with indigenous forms of African art whose contemporaneity remains untheorized. Enwezor’s curatorial focus is devoted to radical notions of contemporaneity built mainly on the practice of African artists who live and work in the West, and an unfailing interest in defining contemporary African art as a context that emerges with the postcolonial African subject. His curatorial work thus produces ahistorical interpretations of contemporary African art in general and echoes Marianne Eigenheer’s criticism (in Curating Critique, 2007) of curators as “perpetuating the automation of self-reflexive autonomous systems within closed “contextualizations’”, or in other words, of advancing a very self-referential narrative of contemporary practice using limited number of artists recycled in closed-loop exhibitions. Enwezor’s curatorial intervention is also built on a notion of globalization that assumes the free flow of cultural producers: however, this notion is patently false since the global context enforces the locality of contemporary Africans with increasingly authoritarian protocols by preventing their movement across international borders. Also, there is an estimated 2500 contemporary African artists who live and work in the West. This estimate is extremely generous: it is possible there is quite less. How valid is a discourse that uses that limited number of artists to stand in for “contemporary African art” in general?. In this regard, I propose that the curatorial regime of Enwezor can be faulted for legitimizing a notion of Africa that dispenses with the continent itself as a historical theater of contemporary art and visual culture engagements. It thus seems to me a formal analysis of Enwezor’s curatorial regime is due, which is attempted [here].

Enjoy, while I go back to the drawing board: What argument did I originally want to make before I got caught up in all the detail, again? … Oh, and I don’t drink these days but if you do: Have a glass to a real great supervisor who actually managed to get me excited again about the chapter felt like it was sucking life straight out of me (methaphorically speaking) during the last few weeks.

That should have gone into the other post but hey, manipulating the publishing dates it should still go below it :P … Anyway, if you’re in London and have time – that sounds interesting:

David Adjaye: Urban Africa.

31 March – 05 September

Design Museum, London, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD,

"An epic act of homage to a continent"

One of the leading architects of his generation, David Adjaye has stepped out of his regular line of work to photograph and document key cities in Africa as part of an ongoing project to study new patterns of urbanism. Often regarded as a continent defined by underdevelopment, poverty, war and tourism, through this exhibition Adjaye presents Africa in a different light, examining the buildings and places which have a special resonance with his preoccupations as an architect.

This detailed survey reveals a unique snapshot of urban Africa today, documenting the nature of city life in a developing continent: a unique geo-cultural survey profiling the African city in a global context.

(Observer, Sunday 11 April 2010)

His recent programme on the BBC Building Africa: Architecture of a Continent is unfortunately not even available on the IPlayer anymore and I couldn’t find a YouTube video either. Anyway, there are some pictures on the BBC Website. Also, here’s an interview with him: