The Tate Modern's Kerryn Greenberg in Lagos

I already told you about last autumn’s symposium Curating in Africa at Tate Modern and the videos documenting the event at the Tate’s video channel. So, I naturally assume, that you will be interested in the organiser Kerryn Greenberg return visit to the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Lagos. Here’s what Next had to say about it:

With love from the Tate

By Obidike Okafor,

Next, February 19, 2011 04:09AM

United Kingdom-based South African curator, Kerryn Greenberg, held a session with members of the art community at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Yaba, Lagos on February 10. She shared her experiences and the aspirations for one of the major art institutions in Britain, the Tate Modern, where she works. Her talk, centred on plans for African artists on the continent and those in the Diaspora, was delivered to an audience comprising art collectors, students, artists and representatives of the National Gallery of Art.

Greenberg, who was in Nigeria for a two-week residency at the CCA, noted that curating is as essential as the art being displayed. Touching on the objectives of Tate Modern, she disclosed that the museum has realised the importance of expanding its African content after a decade of existence, hence its resolve to have a rich representation of contemporary and modern African art.

Curatorial past

The curator, who has a Master of Arts degree in Curatorial Studies from Bard College, New York and who joined Tate Modern in 2007, also spoke on projects she has handled in the past. They include Frédéric Bruly's ‘Bouabré'; Francis Alÿs' ‘The Story of Deception', John Baldessari's ‘Pure Beauty'; Nicholas Hlobo's ‘Uhambo' and Rothko's ‘The Late Series'.

She also gave insight into the intricacies of curating at the Tate Modern, using Francis Alys' works as an example. She noted that works by the talented artist start with an uncomplicated action either by him or others, which is thereafter documented in a range of media. Greenberg said his work explores issues affecting Latin America and border zones in areas of conflict.

While nothing that Alÿs, uses video projection and film, the curator observed that he also spreads his ideas through postcards, adding that painting and drawing are equally central to his work. Greenberg talked about some of the artist's video installations including ‘Tornado'; ‘The Green Line' and ‘When Faith Moves Mountains'. She disclosed that it was difficult to get the right equipment to screen ‘Tornado' at the Tate Modern because it was shot in high resolution.

Life at the Tate

Taking the audience through the different levels at the UK museum, Greenberg disclosed how each floor affects the artist's showing. "Level Four is for more established artists, while Level Two, Level Three and Level Five are for smaller groups. Emerging international artists are shown on Level Two," she said.

Greenberg whose first African curatorial project was South Africa's Nicholas Hlobo's ‘Uhambo' held on Level Two of the Tate Modern, further disclosed that the exhibition is the first of many that will involve Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. Tate Modern, she added, will build relationships and show more works from Africa in the near future.

Greenberg also disclosed that she had earlier organised a symposium for African curators including Bisi Silva of the CCA. "I have been having conversations with artists in Lagos. I am always glad to collaborate with my colleagues from the continent," she said.

During the interaction, Bisi Silva wondered what relevant government organisations were doing to support collaborations between Nigerian artists and international organisations. Eze Obizue of the Education and Research Department of the NGA, responded that artists have benefited, as they had been part of Art Expos held in Las Vegas and New York; the Dak'Art biennale in Dakar, Senegal; Lagos International Art Expo and the African Regional Summit on Visual Art (ARESUVA), held in Abuja.

Advising young artists who want to be recognised internationally, Greenberg said, "Artists need to be ambitious, they are not ambitious. When they develop their works, they can find themselves. Apply for residencies, discover possibilities, and keep on trying if you want to grow internationally."


  1. I happen to come upon your blog by chance. I love it. Hope to keep in contact. Do you have a FB page or twitter account?

  2. @ ObiageliN:

    Sorry, for only enabling your comment today.

    Thx. Although I've been neglecting it recently. Anyway, my email should show up in the About section of this blog. And, yipp, me's on Facebook. Also, Twitter sounds like too much extra effort for now. ;)

  3. Sorry, reg. Facebook meant to say: send me an email and I get you the detail. I treat that as a semi-private space so don't really want the details here on the blog.


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