Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Photos from Clark-MoMA Colloquium

L-R: Raison Naidoo, Judy Hecker, Natasha Becker, Christa Clarke, Dan Leers
All photos: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Seated at table: Senzeni Marasela, Leslie King-Hammond, John Peffer

L-R: Aruna D'Souza, Vuyile Voyiya, Alissa LaGamma, Gary van Wyk, Sue Williamson, Dan Leers

Extreme Right: Jay Levenson

Second Right: Marcia Kure

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alice Walker on board the "Audacity of Hope" flotilla to Gaza

The celebrated American writer Alice Walker is on board the second flotilla headed to Gaza. Like the first flotilla, this journey is meant to call the world's attention one more time to the plight of the people of Gaza and Palestine, the stateless people who continue to suffer incredibly while the world plays its geopolitical chess game. The cries of the children of Palestine, their parent's yearning for a state of their own, for the freedom most of the world now takes for granted will, hopefully, soon be heeded. I hope to see in my lifetime a region where Jews, Arabs, Hebrews, Christians, Muslims will live in dignity and relative peace. Here is Alice Walker's statement about why she is on board the Audacity of Hope published by the Guardian of London

Monday, June 20, 2011

Clark-MoMA Colloquium, June 21-22

The colloquium organized by the Museum of Modern Art and The Clark Art Institute around the exhibition of prints "Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to now" takes place next two days. Looking forward to it. Here below is the program:


“Impressions from South Africa” and Beyond
Connecting Perspectives on Africa

A ClarkMoMA Colloquium
June 2122, 2011
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Print Room
The Museum of Modern Art, New York


We are delighted to welcome you to this colloquium.  All sessions will take place inThe Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Print Room, 4th floor, MoMA Administrative Offices, 11 West 53rd Street. If you need assistance during your stay, please contact Alexandra Diczok at 212.708.9702, Judy Hecker at 212.333.1147 or 646.528.0311 (cell), or Natasha Becker at 347.853.1713 (cell).
Audio-Visual Note: Presentations will be loaded 15 minutes before the start of a session and at the start of a coffee or lunch break. Thanks. 

Tuesday, June 21

9:30–10:45      Welcome and Introduction

Christophe Cherix (MoMA), Jay Levenson (MoMA), and Michael Ann Holly (The Clark)

                        Natasha Becker (The Clark) and Judy Hecker (MoMA)

                        Exhibition viewing of Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now

We will begin with introductions and an overview of the program, followed by a viewing of the exhibition Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now led by Judy Hecker.

10:45–11:00    Coffee break

11:00–12:30    Session I. “Impressions from South Africa”: Content, Reception, Criticism

Our discussion focuses on the specific exhibition, and the issues related to organizing and presenting it, as well as asking what the repercussions of the exhibition are—for both curatorial practice and for future art historical study.
                        Commentators: Jay Clarke (The Clark); Vuyile Voyiya (artist, South Africa); Willie Cole (artist, USA)

                        Moderator: Aruna D’ Souza (The Clark)

12:30 – 1:00    Lunch service begins and continues into the next session

1:00 – 3:00 *   Session II. Curatorial Practice, Institutions, and Scholarship: Regional, Global, Alternative, and Beyond? 
*At 2:30 MoMA staff leave for Curatorial Forum meeting
What are the spaces for the production, dissemination, and exhibition of contemporary “Africanart on the continent and abroad? How is the work of contemporary and modern African artists located/positioned in fine/modern/ contemporary or encyclopedic art museums? How is work understood by curators/scholars/audiences at home and abroad? What models have emerged to deepen our understanding and art historical knowledge?
Commentators: Riason Naidoo (South African National Gallery); Leslie King Hammond (Center for Race and Culture, MICA); Alisa LaGamma (Metropolitan Museum); Doryun Chong (MoMA)

                        Moderator: Chika Okeke-Agulu (Princeton University)

3:00 – 5:30      End of Sessions – Free Time

5:30                 Friends of Education panelists gather for rehearsal, Titus 2 theater, MoMA
                        Panelists: Senzeni Marasela; Vuyile Voyiya; Sue Williamson; Riason Naidoo
                        Introduction: Judy Hecker
6:45 – 8:00      Friends of Education Public Program, Titus 2 theater, MoMA
                        All participants attend
8:15                 Friends of Education Cocktail Reception    

Wednesday June 22, 2011

9:30 – 12:00    Session III. Modernism: Global? Multiple? Cosmopolitan?
This session is directed at cross-cultural discourse about art and modernist art history in particular: How do art history and exhibitions engage with difference and the history of the dynamic interplay between different cultures in the twentieth century? What has the critical exploration of relationships between Europe and Africa contributed to our historical understanding of cultural difference in the visual arts? In a world where multiculturalism, globalization, and contemporaneity have become common, what unanswered questions remain?
There will be a coffee break at 10:30-11:00
Commentators: Lowery Stokes Sims (Museum of Arts and Design); John Peffer (Ramapo College); Erin Haney (National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian)

Moderator:  Natasha Becker (The Clark)

12:00 – 1:30    Lunch

1:30 – 3:30      Session IV. Contemporary Connections: Artistic Practice
This session will consider the flourishing creative scenes—and surge of interest—in several African centers, including Johannesburg/Cape Town, Lagos, Bamako, Dakar, and Luanda. The disciplines of photography, performance, and media will be reflected along with painting, sculpture, and works on paper.  We will discuss transnational, diasporic, and global links among/with these centers, and how the surge of interest in the work of contemporary African artists has recast the theoretical arguments pertaining to contemporary art in general. We will also consider the socio-cultural-political-economic issues that surround the development of the field.
                        There will be a coffee break at 2:30–2:45

Commentators: Chika Okeke-Agulu (Princeton University); Sue Williamson (artist, South Africa); Senzeni Marasela (artist, South Africa); Dan Leers (MoMA)

                        Moderator: Judy Hecker (MoMA)

Friday, June 17, 2011

NYT Review of Environment and Object in Recent African Art

Just in case anyone missed Holland Cotter's review last week of the beautiful show Environment and Object in Recent African Art, organized by John Weber and Lisa Aronson for the Tang Museum of Art, Skidmore College, here is a link to the article.

Ulli Beier tribute by ABC Radio National, Sydney today

The ABC Radio National based in Sydney is presenting today a program "Drums and Gods of the Yoruba" in tribute to Ulli Beier. Part of the Station's "The Rhythm Divine" series, it presented by Geoff Wood. To listen to the broadcast--with Ulli discussing Yoruba religion and culture, click here

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nka Roundtable III: “Contemporary African Art and the Museum” ends today

Today marks the end of the Roundtable I convened on the subject of contemporary African art and the museum. But anyone interested will continue to have access to the blog in the near future. As with the previous roundtables, this one will be published--with lots of exciting images--in the next issue of Nka. The next roundtable will convene some of the proprietors of the new, exciting independent art spaces and centers around in Africa. Stay tuned; or it is stay logged!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nigerian Art Patron Tayo Adenirokun: RIP

Tayo Adenirokun (1954-2011)
Aderokun, with Mayor of London and Shonibare at the Trafalgar Square, London: Photo, courtesy 234Next.com
 The great Nigerian arts patron Tayo Aderinokun, MFR, has died. Easily one of the truly self-effacing but important art patrons Nigerian has ever seen, his death is a major blow to the arts and culture industry in Nigeria. Mr. Aderinokun was until his death the CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank. He, along with Fola Adeola founded the GTB in 1990, and literally changed the face of the banking industry in Nigeria: the bank HQ in Victoria Island was at the time a fresh breath in the architectural landscape of the city, and the entire place was filled with soaring paintings of Adeola's favorite painter Abraham Uyovbisere. I fell in love (bought shares, and opened accounts) with the GTB!. Adeola sponsored the irreverent "Statements" exhibition by Olu Oguibe in 1989 at the Lebanese Cultural Center in Ikoyi--a show that, in the shadow of the dictatorship, many were too scared to associate with. And just last year, among the many incredible things these two men did personally and through the GTB, Aderinokun was there at the Trafalgar Square for the unveiling of Yinka Shonibare's Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, his project for the famous 4th Plinth, sponsored by the GTB. What was so refreshing about Aderinokun was the genuine and natural commitment to the arts, and if you ask me the good name he and Adeola  made for themselves and for their bank, partly explains why the latter turned out to be--according to reports--perhaps Nigeria's most successful bank today.

Aderinokun's transition is a major loss Nigeria, and of course to his family. Go well.

For more news click here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cambridge Fellowship opportunity for Scholars in Africa

Cambridge/Africa Collaborative Research Programme 2012-13

The Centre of African Studies invites applications for the Collaborative Research Programme around the theme of Art and Museums in Africa from candidates in all the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Applications from scholars working in NGOs, research institutes, academia, libraries, and museums are all welcome.  Applicants from non-English speaking African countries are also encouraged, provided candidates can demonstrate a competent grasp of English.  The appointments will take place from 1 October 2012 - 31 March 2013 and are non-renewable.  Fellows will be affiliated to a Cambridge college.  Each award is worth up to £10,000; out of which travel, accommodation, maintenance costs and medical insurance will be paid by the Centre on behalf of the fellow.

The closing date for applications is 1 October 2011

Art and Museums in Africa

African art has long been globally famous but has also been controversial both intellectually and politically.  Most obviously, the scramble for African art engaged in by western museums and art collectors has been condemned as an appropriation, as has the borrowing of forms and motifs derived from African arts by European modernist artists.  Within disciplines such as art history and anthropology, there has been much argument about appropriate methods and concepts for the study of African art traditions.  In the epoch of decolonization efforts were made to establish new museums in African states, relevant to local aspirations and new national cultures.  Over the same period efforts have been made to revive customary art practices, and to create new craft industries, sometimes in the context of post-conflict and AIDS-prevention community projects.  Over the last 50 years modernist and contemporary arts have also emerged and have gained increasing international recognition, while typically lacking secure financial or institutional support within African states.

This theme aims to support a wide range of interests in historical and contemporary arts in Africa and in changing practices in local and national museums and art institutions.

The University follows an equal opportunities policy.

An application package may be downloaded from our website:

www.african.cam.ac.uk or contact the Centre by emailing: centre@african.cam.ac.uk

This programme is generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust and the Isaac Newton Trust

University of Cambridge
Centre of African Studies
The Mond Building
Free School Lane
Cambridge CB2 3RF UK

Nari Ward and Katharina Grosse at MassMOCA, North Adams

El Anatsui and Nari Ward the day before opening of Nari's MassMOCA show in April. Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

During a recent trip up to Williamstown, I saw these fascinating large scale exhibitions at MassMOCA (in North Adams, MA), reputedly the largest contemporary art museum in the US. And yes, they know how to put together these incredibly complex, huge installations that make the journey to North Adams worth the while. Nari Ward, whose work I have long admired, put up a wonderful, awe-inspiring show stylishly called Sub Mirage Lignum. The center-piece of the exhibition, the monumental Nu Colossus, calls to mind so many things: fish trap for sure, but also a cocoon of some primordial giant arthropod, or the hideout of the last survivor of the final apocalypse. It also in fact has the feel and character of an ambitious neo-post-Minimalist sculpture.

Nari Ward, Nu Colossus, 2011. Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Nari Ward, Mango Tourists, 2011. Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

The second installation that caught my attention is the work of Katharina Gross who has fashioned this muscular yet psychedelic work that makes you think of Arctic icebergs that is some way got beached in the Bahamas. Surreal. Terrifying. A strangely beautiful sight!
Katharina Grosse: One Floor Up More Highly, 2011. Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Katharina Grosse: One Floor Up More Highly, 2011. Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Thursday, June 9, 2011

El Anatsui opens at the Clark this weekend

El Anatsui, Intermittent Signals, 2009. Courtesy, the artist/Jack Shainman Gallery
El Anatsui's gem of a show opens at the Clark Institute this weekend. For those unable to go to Williamstown, there's a nice website for the exhibition, which includes this shorter version of my interview with him:
El Anatsui
To see the works on show, information about the catalogue and other sundry information, check out the website

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

La Triennale (Paris, 2012) -- Press Release

Okwui addressing audience at the Press Conference in the Gardens of Hotel Gabrieli Sandwirth on June 3

. All photos by Salah M. Hassan
Okwui and Associate curators
Els van der Plas and Ute Metabauer

Abdelah Karroum

Isaac Julien and Kuoyo Kuoh

Artur Walter and Markus Mueller

2012 / Palais de Tokyo / Paris
Artistic Director: Okwui Enwezor
Associate Curators: Mélanie Bouteloup, Abdellah Karroum, Émilie Renard, Claire Staebler

The Ministry of Culture and communication has invited Okwui Enwezor to serve as artistic director of La Triennale. The flagship event, marking the reopening of the Palais de Tokyo in 2012, proposes a large panorama of contemporary art at the intersection of the French art scene and global sites of production. Beginning within the interiors of the expanded and refurbished Palais de Tokyo, La Triennale is set in a series of overlapping cartographies that shift from small-scale collaborations with emerging research, production, exhibition, and performance spaces in Paris and the surrounding suburb, to explorations of the critical valences between the edges of France and countries adjacent to and bordering them.

Fundamentally, the goal of the project is to shift from the idea of national space, as a constituted physical location, to a frontier space that constantly assumes new morphologies and new models of categorization (local, national, trans-national, geo-political, denational, pure, contaminated, etc.).

Recently appointed director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst, Okwui Enwezor has served as artistic director of Documenta 11 in Kassel, and the biennials of Johannesburg, Seville and Gwangju. He was Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President of the San Francisco Art Institute (2005-2009), and is widely acknowledged as a leading and influential figure on the contemporary art scene. As artistic director of La Triennale, Okwui Enwezor brings incisive critical insight, international awareness and extensive practical experience. After La Force de l’Art 1 and 2 at the Grand Palais in 2006 and 2009, the newly-reinvented La Triennale will be one of the major art events of 2012.

Artistic Director Enwezor proposes a broad, stimulating panorama of contemporary art. Aiming to explore potential areas of dialogue between various artistic disciplines and cultural scenes, he will work in close collaboration with a team of four associate curators: Mélanie Bouteloup, Abdellah Karroum, Émilie Renard and Claire Staebler.

The four associate curators
The four associate curators of La Triennale are all active and committed actors on the contemporary art scene, each contributing their own, highly original approach. The team offers a rich spectrum of diverse professional experience, dedicated to the shaping and production of a genuinely international, multi-disciplinary event.
Mélanie Bouteloup is co-founder and director of Bétonsalon, a non-profit association established in 2003, now a fully-fledged centre for the arts and research. Working to promote the sharing of knowledge and expertise between different artistic disciplines, Bouteloup has developed Bétonsalon into a place of innovative artistic reflection, research, and exploration rooted in the ecology of contemporary art.

Abdellah Karroum is a curator and founder of L’appartment 22, a unique exhibition and research laboratory based in Rabat. Other projects include the art publisher Hors’champs, and Le Bout Du Monde. Karroum has served as curator of the Dakar, Gwangju and Marrakech biennials in 2006, 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Émilie Renard is a writer and independent curator. Her work explores the structures of fiction and fictional characters in contemporary art forms, with a particular focus on the resurgence of the Arcadian myth. She was co-director of the Paris curator-run space Public, and co-editor of the art magazine and catalogue for fictive shows Trouble.

Claire Staebler was a curator at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from 2002 to 2007, and was artistic director of the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev (Ukraine) from 2007 to 2009. She was associate curator of the Busan Biennale in 2006, and is a cofounder with Jelena Vesic of the art project No More Reality [Crowd, Performance and Re-enactment] presented in Belgrade, Amsterdam and Istanbul.

La Triennale is happening at a point in which the vitality of contemporary art around France and Paris is immense. The surrounding landscape is not only the landscape of big institutions and powerful structures, but a landscape that is being constructed as we speak by multiple voices and a lot of them emerging voices, not in contestation of the powerful institutions but really enlarging the rise of the possible in Paris.
La Triennale is not an exhibition that is about bringing something Paris has not seen before but it is about being part of this developing and growing narrative in a space that has been a primary institution over the past ten years, in terms of different methodologies of exhibition making, the discursive as well as the critical dimensions between art and thought, art and life. Most importantly, La Triennale wants to create a space of intellectual generosity.’
  •  Okwui Enwezor, in conversation with Alfredo Jaar, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 16 February 2011.
La Triennale is organized at the initiative of the ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / Direction générale de la création artistique, commissioner, with the Centre national des arts plastiques (CNAP), associate commissioner, and produced by Palais de Tokyo. La Triennale is organised with the support of the Institut français.

For further information:contact@latriennale.org

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A New War Against Corruption in Nigeria?

The new president of Nigeria, Mr Goodluck Jonathan has just been inaugurated for a four-year term, after an electoral process of which many in Nigeria and overseas are proud, despite the terrible violence that followed it in Northern Nigeria. I was hoping that the President would commit to wage war against Nigeria's greatest enemy; the singular reason that country has ambled and stumbled like a blindfolded brute. And thankfully, he has promised to levy an all out war on corruption! Good. And I hope that he will signal that commitment by not meddling in the investigation and prosecution of the outgoing Speaker of House of Representatives, the 41-year old Mr. Bankole alleged to have laundered, I kid you not, $1Billion through a domiciliary account with a Nigerian bank, and for taking out a personal loan of 10 Billion Naira ($67million) using the House's own account as collateral! News reports indicate that his fellow House members are trying by all means to shield this man from prosecution or what they call "humiliation."

I personally do not know if all this is true or not, but several media reports clearly indicate there is something terribly wrong Mr. Bankole's handling of money as the Speaker. Goodluck Jonathan must insist on the rule of law, and must use this screaming case as an example of his new government's claim it won't be business as usual when it comes to massive official corruption in Nigeria. If this case is hushed away, then Mr. Jonathan has no business expecting that he will be taken seriously when next he mouths his opposition to the reign of Corruption Inc.