Sunday, November 22, 2015

Princeton Faculty Letter in Support of Student Protests

November 20, 2015

Dear President Eisgruber, Dean Dolan, Senior Administrators, and Members of the Board of Trustees:

As Princeton faculty, we write in support of our students who have occupied the President’s office and those supporting them across campus. These are difficult times. And there is a palpable sense that, even as we struggle together to make Princeton a better institution, students of color, particularly black students, all too often find themselves on the margins of this University.  They do not feel a sense of possession of “Old Nassau.” So, they are voicing their frustration and have presented demands to the leadership of our community.

They have done so with passion and intelligence and we support them. We urge you and the broader Princeton community to take this opportunity to reflect seriously on their demands.  Imagine how difficult it must be, for some, to have to live and learn in a place that celebrates people who believed passionately in white supremacy; to experience daily a sense of alienation and have no place to which to retreat and find comfort. Imagine the exhausting task of having to constantly educate your fellow classmates about the particulars of your experience and the complex histories that shape them. And, finally, imagine being told, in effect, “be quiet” and endure. Such experiences suggest that Princeton is not truly their University–that they are just passing through.

Our students are no longer quiet. They have forced all of us to confront the urgency of the moment. Princeton’s deliberate pace at reform often presupposes the sacrifice of those who must endure until we actually change. It’s a costly wager. These students refuse to wait. They have forced the conversation and now we must act. We stand with them as they struggle with the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and its impact on this campus. We stand with them as they work to make Princeton a more inclusive community. And we stand with them as they seek an education that is consonant with the vast diversity of our nation and this world.

As faculty, we recall the long history on this campus of previous student actions, administrative responses, faculty votes, and the vast array of University task forces and committees charged with addressing elements of the core problems that remain before us today. This history and the reality of our current moment suggests to us the need for a different, bolder, more comprehensive kind of action on the part of University leaders. In addition, we call for a meeting of the faculty dedicated to the issue of faculty diversity. Like our students, we note with dismay the alarming paucity of faculty of color in our senior ranks. In order to create the kind of just, inclusive, and welcoming University community students are insisting upon, we desperately need a faculty that more closely reflects not only the demographic profile of the nation but of the undergraduate student body itself.

Substantive change isn’t always neat and civil. Democratic debate is often messy and full of passion. But it requires that we hear each other, that we respect the right of others to protest. Threats of disciplinary action send a terrible signal to our students about your commitment to them and to making Princeton a better place.

We believe we have an opportunity to model something for the nation as we stand with our students. We urge you to seize this opportunity. We urge you to see and hear them.  As they chanted:

We here
We been here
We ain’t leaving.

Department of African American Studies Core Faculty:
Anna Arabindan Kesson, African American Studies & Art and Archaeology
Wendy Laura Belcher, African American Studies & Comparative Literature
Ruha Benjamin, African American Studies
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., African American Studies & Religion
Joshua Guild, African American Studies & History
Tera Hunter, African American Studies & History
Naomi Murakawa, African American Studies
Kinohi Nishikawa, African American Studies & English
Chika O. Okeke-Agulu, African American Studies & Art and Archaeology
Imani Perry, African American Studies
Stacey Sinclair, African American Studies & Psychology
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, African American Studies

Princeton University Faculty, Fellows and Lecturers:
Ben Baer, Comparative Literature
Joao Biehl, Anthropology
Margot Canaday, History
Bruno Carvalho, Spanish and Portuguese
Miguel Centeno, Sociology
Garnet Chan, Chemistry
Zahid Chaudhary, English
Katie Chenoweth, French and Italian
Sarah Chihaya, English
Steven Chung, East Asian Studies
Andrew Cole, English
Alin Coman, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Jessica Delgado, Religion
Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones, Spanish and Portuguese
Susan Draper, Comparative Literature
Lauren Emberson, Psychology
Karen Emmerich, Comparative Literature
Margaret Frye, Sociology
Paul Frymer, Politics
Robert George, Politics
Simon Gikandi, English
William Gleason, English
Tao Leigh Goffe, African American Studies
Javier Guerrero, Spanish and Portuguese
Tod Hamilton, Sociology
Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy & Center for Human Values
Brian Eugenio Herrera, Program in Theater & Lewis Center for the Arts
Erin Huang, East Asian Studies
Alison Isenberg, History
Desmond Jagmohan, Politics
Amaney Jamal, Politics
Justin Jungé, Psychology
Matthew Karp, History
Beatrice Kitzinger, Art and Archaeology
Emmanuel Kreike, History
Regina Kunzel, History & Gender and Sexuality Studies
Hendrik Lorenz, Philosophy
Nell Painter, History & African American Studies
Betsy Levy Paluck, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Gyan Prakash, History
Rachel Price, Spanish and Portuguese
Bridget Purcell, Anthropology
Joe Scanlan, Visual Arts Program
Eldar Shafir, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Irene Small, Art & Archaeology
LaFleur Stephens, Politics
Dara Strolovitch, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Diana Tamar, Psychology
Marta Tienda, Sociology & Woodrow Wilson School
Anastasia Mann, American Studies
Meredith Martin, English
Alecia McGregor, Woodrow Wilson School
Germán Labrador Méndez, Spanish and Portuguese
Angel Loureiro, Spanish and Portuguese
Jarvis McInnis, African American Studies
Pedro Meira Monteiro, Spanish and Portuguese
David Minto, History
Kathleen Nolan, Program in Teacher Preparation
Carolyn Rouse, Anthropology
Rory Truex, Politics & Woodrow Wilson School
Deborah Vischak, Art & Archaeology
Judith Weisenfeld, Religion
Keith Wailoo, History & Woodrow Wilson School
Max Weiss, History & Near Eastern Studies
Tamsen Wolff, English

Saturday, July 18, 2015

1:54 FORUM NY: Opening Remarks & Panel: Global Black Subjectivities

Just found this audio recording of the panel discussion organized by Koyo Kouoh (of Raw Material Company, Dakar) for 1:54 Forum, as part of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, 15-16 May 2015, at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NYC. If you have the time and interest on black subjectivities and contemporary art, you are welcome to listen to it on Youtube.

Listen on Youtube

And BTW, here is a note I wrote in May following my trip to 1:54 Art Fair:

 Last week, I was at the 1:54 Forum, the superb discussion program of the Contemporary African Art Fair established a couple of years ago by Touria El Glaoui. 1:54 (the 54, referring to the number of African Countries) is arguably the most important platform for selling contemporary African art to the world, through the agency of art galleries invested in this field. By placing the Forum, organized by curator Koyo Kouoh, who runs the RAW Material Company in Dakar, at the very center of the fair program, Touria and Koyo signal in unmistakable terms their awareness that the fair, apart from serving as a metamarket for African art, has to join intellectual and scholarly groundwork needed to further break the barriers that have long kept this field--especially the work of artists working inside the continent--from reaching certain attractive realms of the art world.
In coming to New York, the art and money capital of the United States, which unfortunately has not been a particularly fertile ground for contemporary African art (as big as its art world is, only the first rate Jack Shainman and, to a lesser extent, Bill Karg's longer-running Contemporary African Art Gallery, and Skoto Gallery have kept continental African artists visible in the city's art scene) the organizers of the art fair seem poised to shake things up as never before.The question in the end is whether stakeholders--galleries and collectors from New York and elsewhere--will recognize the fair's potential and therefore identify with it in the coming years. My hope though is that the organizers of 1-54 keep faith with the work of supporting intellectual debates, artists' presentations and conversations anchored around its Forum. But also, I would like to see the fair expand its horizon beyond serving as platform for African art galleries. It ought to grow, to become the place where galleries in the African and black diaspora--whether they are in Europe, the Americas, Asia--can identify with. That is to say, let it become the Pan-African contemporary art fair. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Class Day Photos, Art & Archaeology Department, Princeton

Tuesday, June 1 was Class Day, and this year was an especially good year with some fine especially theses for the (Program 1: Art History) and thesis exhibitions (for Program 2: Studio Art). And yes, some really smart young women and men. 

Chair, Michael Koortbojian address the audience

Professor Michael Koortbojian

 Here are samples of Honors Thesis and Thesis Exhibitions from Programs 1 & 2:
Phway Su Aye thesis on Yangon's colonial architectural heritage

Joseph Thomas Bonura's thesis on War Posters in America

Elizabeth Hall Rise on Social Surrealism in mid-20th-century America

Yael Wollstein's thesis on the French modernist Maurice Denis

Hoi Lam Helen Wong's investigative thesis on a carved stone fragment in the Princeton
Univ. Art Museum, from ancient Egypt

Joe Scanlan, Director & Professor of Visual Arts (Lewis Center for the Arts), presents
thesis exhibitions

Margaret Ann Craycraft's video, Labor Against Waste (in the background)

Kemy Chuxia Lin's Disorientations, an installation featuring multimedia evidence of her
documented trip to the moon

Amber Symone Stewart's Black Balance, a video and photographic installation on comparative blackness

Christopher Bogle Webb St. John's Bench, a multimedia installation on the relationship between object (Bench),
meaning and experience
Amber Stewart receives The Herbert L. Lucas Award in Visual Arts

Elizabeth Hall Rise receives The White Prize in Art and Archaeology, the top departmental prize. Ms. Rise also received the Grace May Tilton Prize in the Program in American Studies

Alison Kay Itzkowitz receives the Rensselear Lee Prize (for a thesis on art theory and literature)

Yael Wollstein receives The Irma S. Steiz Prize for the best thesis in the Field of Modern Art

Dalma Foldesi and Misha Semenov jointly received The Frederick Barnard White Prize in Architecture. Misha was Princeton's Valedictorian this year! 

Elizabeth Hall Rise receives The Federick Barnard White Prize in Art and Archaeology

Phway Su Aye receives The Senior Thesis Prize

Amber Stewart's grand father among the guests 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Public presentation of my book Postcolonial Modernism @ Goethe-Institut, Lagos, June 18

I am truly excited that there will be a public presentation of my newest book at the Goethe-Institut, Lagos on June 18. I am expecting friends new and old, and colleagues from far and near. Please come if you are in the vicinity of Lagos. Thanks to Marc-Andre Schmachtel, the Director of the GI, Lagos for making this possible!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Artists Residency program opportunity at Khoj, India

Coriolis Effect
Currents across India and Africa

Khoj International Residency program
1 – 31 August, 2015

Application Deadline: June 1, 2015

Khoj invites applications from artists and cultural practitioners for its forthcoming residency program, Coriolis Effect: Currents across India and Africa, a project which seeks to activate the social, economic and cultural relationship and historical exchange which exists between India and the continent of Africa. In part, the rationale behind Coriolis Effect is in response to Khoj’s immediate neighborhood of Khirkee Village Extension; a dense urban –village environment in New Delhi that has been home to a stream of immigrants from within the Indian Subcontinent, as well as migrants from countries such as Cameroon, Somali, Nigeria, Kenya, Afghanistan and Nepal, to name a few. This hotpot of cultural difference has long been a source of friction between residents, often bubbling into acts of discrimination based violence. This project has grown out of a series of encounters and conversations which took place in and around Khoj through 2014.

This project invites participants to unpack notions of geography, memory, cultural exchange as well as tension and fear of the ‘other’, through history. Coriolis Effect will not only use the present context of 21st century migrations, but equally refer to various moments of exchange through history; from the recent past of the Non-Aligned movements in the 20th century, to the cultural relationship shared exchanged by Indians and Africans from the 1st century AD onwards. 
Specific areas of interest for this project include ‘Identity’- whether informed through ideas of race, ethnicity and cultural difference; or informed through notions of ‘belonging’, within the changing context of what constitutes a nation, and what delineates a city, in today’s burgeoning landscape. Identity can also be construed through understanding of gendered and sexualized spaces, in particular, the presentation of ‘masculinity’ as a trope of fear and aggression in the context of racial difference.  The project will also investigate the presence of ‘memory’, through a re-collection of this shared history, and remnants of this history in physical and intangible forms alike. A final point of departure for this project includes political imaginings, as informed through allegiances created in the late 20th century, following the period of the Cold War and the Non-Aligned period.

Application Details

To apply for this program, please submit the following documents to ‘

·         Recent C.V.
·         A letter of intent / project proposal
·         Images or links to past work

Residency Details

Selected applicants will receive a production budget, daily living allowance, studio space and accommodation at Khoj, as well as curatorial and administrative support to realize proposed projects. Khoj supports national and international travel for selected applicants where possible. International applicants are encouraged to seek support for travel where possible. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Nero su Bianco" exhibition opens @ The American Academy in Rome

This exhibition, Nero su Bianco,organized by Lyle Ashton Harris, Robert Storr, and Peter Benson Miller, is part of the major international conference, Portraiture{s} II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories to be held at New York University, Florence, Italy at Villa La Pietra (May 28-31). It includes heavy hitters like Carrie Mae Weems, Fred Wilson and Lorna Simpson, the venerable Barbara Chase-Riboud, and such newer exciting talents as Theo Eshetu, Jeblila Okongwu and Meleko Mokgosi. If in Rome, go see this show!

Meleko Mokgosi, Ruse of Disavowal, 2013. Image courtesy of

Friday, May 22, 2015

Okwui Enwezor and Dawoud Bey Receive Aljira Timehri Leadership in the Arts Award

Aljira Guests during reception
* Unless otherwise noted, all Photos: Marcia Kure
Aljira Executive Director, Victor Davson. Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu
Last night the Newark (NJ) based Aljira: a Center for Contemporary Arts celebrated its 30th anniversary and annual benefit auction. For those who don't know, Aljira is a modest establishment that has had a tremendous impact on the careers of artists from all over the world; artists who might not have received any attention from the stuffy, so-called mainstream New York museums and galleries. Thanks to Aljira, many of these artists have gone on to establish substantial careers in the art world. Established in the mid 1980s by visionary minds who set out to make a difference, and to reshape the landscape of the contemporary art scene of the US North East in particular, Aljira has, after these thirty years, remained, in spite of its relatively unimpressive financial resources, a crucial space for convening art and artists that truly reflect the diverse, thrilling, and confounding scene of global contemporary art. It is a vital part of the Newark art ecosystem.
Dawoud Bey, right
It is thus equally significant, to me at least, that on this thirtieth anniversary of Aljira, its board of trustees decided to give the Timehri Leadership in the Arts Award to my friend Okwui who has had a longstanding relationship with this institution (the other award recipient is the influential photographer, Dawoud Bey). Besides the fact that Okwui organized his very first art exhibitions at Aljira in 1994, the Carl Hazelwood, the co-founder of Aljira was also a founding member of the editorial of our journal Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art established by Okwui also in 1994. For him then to receive the Timehri Award this year that he capped his curatorial career with the directorship of the Venice Biennale (more than a decade after director the Documenta), is doubly meaningful. Okwui, still in Venice, could not come to Newark for the award ceremony. But I was on hand (Marcia and I were guests of my colleague, the eminent historian and artist Nell Irvin Painter) to receive the award on Okwui's behalf.
Holding Okwui's Award, with Dawoud Bey

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Princeton in Africa seeks Executive Director

Job Description for Executive Director

Application deadline is June 30th, but apply early as candidates will be reviewed on a rolling basis
Princeton in Africa (PiAf) is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Princeton, NJ. Our mission is to develop young leaders committed to Africa's advancement. We place bright, hardworking, passionate recent college graduates with remarkable host organizations for yearlong fellowship opportunities across the continent. Fellows have found these experiences to be life-changing, both personally and professionally, and host organizations and the communities they serve have benefited greatly from the contributions of our Fellows over the past 16 years. Since 1999, we have placed nearly 400 Fellows in 35 African countries with more than 70 organizations.
During our 2014-15 fellowship year, we have 49 fellows from 35 different colleges and universities working with 30 organizations in 15 African countries. Our program is open to graduates from any accredited U.S. college or university, and is highly selective, with an approximately 10% placement rate. Our host organizations work in diverse sectors, including public & community health, international humanitarian aid & development, education & youth capacity building, agricultural development, and more. Fellows are placed with well-known organizations like the International Rescue Committee, the World Food Programme, African Leadership Academy, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, as well as smaller start-ups, social entrepreneurs and grassroots organizations, and even multinational companies.

Princeton in Africa’s annual operating budget is approximately $775,000 per year. We are affiliated with Princeton University, but fundraise our own revenue each year for our program. We have an active, engaged board of directors supporting our work. Find out more about us at

POSITION: The Executive Director reports to the Princeton in Africa Board of Directors, and is accountable for all aspects of Princeton in Africa. The most critical aspects of the Executive Director’s role are the health and safety of our Fellows, management of PiAf staff, financial oversight, donor relations and fundraising, Board reporting and relationships, and relationships with Princeton University.

PURPOSE: We are seeking a dynamic leader with strong initiative who can lead Princeton in Africa as we continue to strengthen our fellowship program and plan for strategic growth. The Executive Director will be the public face of PiAf in interacting with Fellows, parents, host organizations, donors, Princeton University, and others. The successful candidate will be a skillful manager and fundraiser, with a strong commitment to the health and safety of our Fellows, and an eloquent advocate for PiAf’s mission to develop young leaders dedicated to Africa’s advancement.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS (include but not limited to):
 Build excitement on PiAf’s board for our life-changing fellowship program.
 Liaise with Board President and Board Committees and coordinate board meetings.
 Assist with new board member recruitment.
 Liaise with Princeton University.
 Build a strong teamwork atmosphere and support staff professional growth and development.
 Manage a team of four full-time staff and one part-time staff member, as well as interns.
 Work closely with Financial Administrator on organizational budgets and budget projections, tracking revenue and expenses, creating monthly and quarterly financial reports, independent audit, and filing all appropriate forms with IRS and state governments.
 Maintain a preeminent fellowship program and work closely with program staff to plan for strategic growth in the program’s size and scope.
 Oversee and assist program staff throughout the fellowship placement cycle.
 Oversee and assist program staff throughout the year in supporting Fellows in Africa, including regular communication with Fellows and supervisors, conducting site visits in Africa, and leading a mid-year retreat for Fellows in Africa.
 Oversee health, safety and security policies and procedures, including monitoring advisories and directing institutional responses to crises, such as medical evacuations and political unrest.
 Build strong relationships with existing host organizations and select new host organizations.
 Build strong relationships with PiAf alumni and develop new avenues for alumni engagement.
 Continue to improve PiAf’s efforts to measure and evaluate the impact of our work.
 As the key spokesperson for Princeton in Africa, share our mission with a wider audience and raise the funds we need to make our program possible.
 Develop and lead annual fundraising strategy, and oversee donor database.
 Identify, cultivate and manage foundation, corporate and individual donors.
 Manage all fundraising events, including annual benefit dinner.
 Oversee annual appeals, grant applications and grant reporting.
 Oversee website maintenance and development of compelling communications materials.
 Demonstrated interest in young adults and Africa.
 Effective team leadership and management.
 Excellent oral and written communications skills
 Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with people from diverse cultures.
 Strong organization skills and critical thinking skills.
 Proficient with Microsoft Office programs, particularly Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
 Experience fundraising, with strong preference for successful prior experience managing logistics and fundraising for annual benefit dinners or similar fundraising events.
 Experience managing budgets.
 Willing and available to work occasional nights and weekends throughout the year, as required by fellowship program cycle and crises that arise.
 Willing and available to travel to Africa for several weeks each year.
 Ability to juggle multiple tasks, work in a lean non-profit environment, adjust to sudden shifts in priorities, and maintain a good sense of humor.
 Full-time employment
 Compensation based upon experience
 Twenty days vacation leave per year plus holidays
 Health and dental insurance offered
 Position located in Princeton, NJ
 Intended start date is mid-September 2015

TO APPLY: Please email a resume, cover letter, and salary history to The deadline for applications is June 30, 2015, but applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so please consider applying early to ensure your application is reviewed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Photo of El Anatsui's Golden Lion Award at the 56th Venice Biennale

Okwui Enwezor with El Anatsui at the Ca' Guistinian venue of the 56th Venice Biennale Award Ceremony
Photos: Chika Okeke-Agulu

The Golden Lion

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ofodunka is An Paenhysen's "Art Blogger of the Week"!

The Berlin-based "An Paenhysen: Art Lover and Blogger" listed Ofodunka as the Art blogger of the Week! She marked this with a short interview on my work as a scholar and blogger.
Here's her intro:

"Do academia and blogging go together? Yes they do, according to Chika Okeke-Agulu, who teaches African art history and theory at Princeton University. This January he published his newest book Postcolonial Modernism: Art & Decolonization in 20th-Century Nigeria at Duke University Press. But he's also a fervent blogger (and Tweeter) and does so with a great eye for the interstices of arts and politics. Especially Nigeria is high on the list of Okeke-Agulu's interests."

Read here the rest of the interview:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Princeton African a Cappella Group performance

On Thursday night, I was invited by one of my students Akua Bankful to the end-of-year performance by her campus-based group, Princeton African a Cappella. What a delight it was to see these young men and women, including graduating seniors like Akua who have just turned in their honors theses, show their mettle as singers and performers. I saw Wendy Li and Faridah Folawiyo, Akua's mates in my "Art and Politics in Postcolonial Africa" seminar. Despite the unexpectedly windy and cold weather, the program--which included spirited performances of songs by Kenyan Sauti Sol, South African Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Nigerian Asa and Duncan Mighty/Davido, and some original works by the group's members--kept the evening warm! Their performance of Nkosi Sikeli'Afrika (the ANC/South African anthem) brought back memories of Nsukka days when our drama group--led by Greg Mbajiorgu--performed "Freedom Charter" in the Art Theatre.

"Nkosi Sikelel'iAfrika!"

Trio performs "Loliwe" by Zahara

Yaw Owusu-Boahen takes the mic

Achille leads their reprise of "Obianuju" by Duncan Mighty and Davido
Closing dance

Ekua Bankful and Wendy Li

Thursday, April 30, 2015

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair hosts FORUM in New York City, May 15-17, 2015

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair hosts FORUM, an extensive programme of artist talks, panel discussions and lectures during its New York debut 15–16 May 2015. Forum will be held at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn alongside the fair 15–17 May.
Curated by Koyo Kouoh, Artistic Director of RAW Material Company, FORUM aims to stimulate discussion and debate with some of the art world’s most inspirational players. The New York iteration looks to reexamine present and future notions of 21st century African diasporic identities as traversed, negotiated and performed in the arenas of intellectual, cultural and artistic practices. A special focus will be given to important voices active in these fields across the last 35 years.
Admission to FORUM events are free with any ticket to 1:54 NY, Frieze NY, or a VIP Pass (1:54/Frieze), but guests must reserve their seats at due to a limited capacity.
Full Programme – 1:54 FORUM NY:

Friday, May 15 
1:00–1:25 PM: Opening remarks by Koyo Kouoh 
Artistic Director RAW Material Company and Curator of FORUM Education Program 1:54.

1:30–2:30 PM: Keynote Address: Black Aesthetics Unbound
Delivered by Margo Natalie Crawford, Associate Professor in the Department of English at Cornell University. Followed by a Q & A.

2:45–4:00 PM: Panel: Global Black Subjectivities: Here and Now
This panel centres on cultural belonging in the artistic arena with discussants Naima J. Keith, Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; and artist Julie Mehretu. Moderated by Chika Okeke-Agulu, artist, curator, and Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology, and Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.   

4:15–5:30 PM: Artist Talk
Adrienne Edwards, Curator, Performa is in conversation with artists Hank Willis Thomas and Lyle Ashton Harris to consider the semantics of the term ‘diaspora’ in relation to contemporary art practice.

5:45–6:45 PM: Artist Talk 
Dexter Wimberly, independent curator and Director of Strategic Planning at Independent Curators International (ICI) is in conversation with artists Meleko Mokgosi and Lavar Munroe to consider the semantics of the term ‘diaspora’ in relation to contemporary art practice.

Saturday, May 16 
1:15–2:30 PM: Panel: Cultural Specific Curating in Institutions
Representing MoMA, Newark Museum and LACMA respectively are discussants Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Christa Clarke, Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa at Newark Museum; and Franklin Sirmans, Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head, Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Moderated by Steven Nelson, Professor of African and African American Art History at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

3:00–4:15 PM: Discussion: Breaking the Ice
Christian Haye, art dealer and Founder of The Project is in conversation with artist Melvin Edwards to discuss the historical and political legacies played by the pioneering galleries Just Above Midtown (JAM) founded by Linda Goode Bryant (1974-1986) and Haye’s The Project (1998-2009), as critical platforms for African and African American artists. Moderated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Curator of African Art at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover.

4:30–5:45 PM: Gallery Talk
With discussants Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt, Director of Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle, and Lisa Brittan, Director of Axis Gallery, New York. Moderated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Curator of African Art at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover.

6:00–6:45 PM: Book Launch: Exhibition Catalogue
Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Work of Six African Women Artists (2015) with curator Koyo Kouoh and participating artist Marcia Kure.

Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Opening Hours:
Friday 15 May, 12–8pm
Saturday 16 May 12–8pm
Sunday 17 May 12–6pm

Admission: Day pass: $10 / Students: $5

Gabriella Beckhurst
Programme Assistant

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Somerset House, South Wing
Strand, London WC2R 1LA

+44 (0)7970 181761

Visit the website at

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Aljira Benefit Auction, May 21, 2015

As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, the Newark-based Aljira: a Center for Contemporary Art, one of the leading supporters of artists of color in the US North East, will be holding an art auction on May 21, 2015. The auction list includes work by well-known names, such as David Salle, Wangechi Mutu, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Marcia Kure, Philip Akkerman, Dawoud Bey, Frank Bowling, and many more.

This year, Aljira will honor the photo artist Dawoud Bey and Okwui Enwezor for their work. I have to be there!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Anatsui Wins the Venice Biennale's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement!

Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu
Congratulations, El for this most deserved award! It is an honor to count you as a teacher, colleague and friend, and an artist who has, like no one practicing today, redefined sculpture as an artistic genre. Go on, ride the long tide of history!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Conversation with Anatsui: VENUE CHANGE!

The venue for my conversation with El Anatsui, which takes place 5PM tomorrow, April 23, has changed. If you plan to attend, please note that it will now hold in McCosh 10. If you can't come, it will be streamed live on Princeton's Media Central. To log on at 5PM please go to the Media Central Site.
If you miss the livestream, the video will be uploaded on the Center for African American Studies  Youtube channel in twenty four hours. 

Anatsui in Princeton

El Anatsui has been in Princeton since the beginning of the week as the 2015 Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984, International Artist-in-Residence. As part of this major event here, the Princeton University Art Museum recently acquired Anatsui's work, Another Place (2015) now installed on the island wall in the Museum's main contemporary art gallery. El was at the museum yesterday to see the work, installed just the day before.
Anatsui in front of Another Place, Princeton University Art Museum
Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Monday, April 20, 2015

University of Edinburgh seeks Africanist Scholars

Check this out if you are or know someone that might be interested in this job announcement:

The Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh is seeking to appoint an outstanding researcher and teacher to a permanent academic post in the Centre of African Studies, in the School of Social and Political Science. S/he will be joining a dynamic and interdisciplinary community of some 20 academics and 100 postgraduate students located in the centre, as well as many more around the university.

We are looking for candidates with a commitment to innovative interdisciplinary research and teaching with an African focus. Candidates will have relevant expertise in African studies or in political science, social anthropology, development studies, human geography, history or cultural studies.

The candidate will be based in one of largest clusters of Africanist experts in Europe, in a university ranked in the world’s top 20, and in a city regarded as one of most beautiful and liveable in the UK.

Link to vacancy details and ‘how to apply’ available at:

For any question, please do not hesitate to contact me: email:

Dr Barbara Bompani
Director, Centre of African Studies - CAS
School of Social and Political Science
The University of Edinburgh

Room 4.04, Chrystal Macmillan Building
15a George Square
EH8 9LD Edinburgh
Office phone number: +44 (0)131 6513891
Twitter: @BarbaraBompani

Centre of African Studies website: 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My conversation with El Anatsui to be webcast live!

Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu

My Conversation with El Anatsui will be webcast live on Livestream. To watch, connect on Thursday, April 23 @5PM via this link.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nigerian Intellectuals and the trouble with Nigeria; or SOS for the Igbo

For some time, in the guise of electoral politics, drumbeats such as have not been heard in Nigeria since the bloodletting levied on Igbo civilians by their countrymen are sounding again. Last week, the Oba of Lagos, the traditional ruler of that metropolis, made what many right thinking Nigerians from the south to the north, east to west have condemned as irresponsible and dangerous statement. Pained that the Igbo residents of Lagos--who in the March 28 presidential elections voted massively for the Goodluck Jonathan-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)--are again poised to vote for the PDP candidate for the Lagos State governorship elections today, the Oba cautioned the Igbo against this (*Note that the PDP candidate is himself also Yoruba). He stated that his Yoruba people who now claim Lagos--for decades the Nigerian political capital--as a Yoruba city have a way of dealing ungrateful visitors; they are thrown into the lagoon. They are eliminated. Killed. Here is the critical section of Oba Akiolu's statement:

“On Saturday, if any one of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it’s not my father who gave birth to me.
“Jonathan is my son and I speak to him every day, by the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future.
On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water.
“I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi is my blood relation and I told him that he can never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God.
I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, if you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you, if you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.”

Since this public statement the video of which has circulated in the internet, the Oba has reportedly tried to modify his statement, even going as far as suggesting that he was under the influence of alcohol when he misspoke. Several important voices, many of them Yoruba, have condemned the Oba's very unfortunate statement, as it ran against the spirit of democracy to which Nigeria and Nigerians aspire. He was reminded that every Nigerian, any group of Nigerians have the inalienable constitutional right to vote for any individual or party, and that threats such as he uttered constitute voter intimidation, which is against the law. My friend and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, first among major writers that have commented on the royal threat, pointed to the wider context of this matter: the fact that other Nigerians have historically seen the Igbo as a problem. "To be Igbo in Nigeria, is to be a suspect," she wrote. In the meantime, two Igbo groups have petitioned the Nigerian Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to look into the Oba's threat in the hope of forestalling any harm that might be visited on the Igbo people in Lagos. Even General Buhari the President-elect and leader of the APC has distanced himself and the party from the Oba's statement

Against this background, I read in utter horror the press release circulated today by the Wilmington, DE-based Oodua Foundation, a group of "Yoruba intellectuals, professionals, business leaders, government officials, and military officers, in countries across the world." Ostensibly written in defense of the Oba of Lagos, this statement by the self-described "think-thank" of the Yoruba nation, goes beyond everything I have read so far by declaring Igbo residents--many of them legitimate property and business owners--"resident refugees in Lagos...who are are unfortunately making their position in the Yoruba kingdom of Lagos very precarious." The Oodua Foundation's statement claims that: "Refusing to be grateful for what they and their people are benefiting from Yorubaland, these ["obstreperous" Igbo] choose to constitute themselves into constant pain and trouble. The Yoruba people of Lagos, and other Lagos residents from other parts of Nigeria, are becoming tired of having these prickly characters around us." (my emphasis).

Here are my questions: Is this still about the governorship elections? Or is this indicative of the return of the kind of rhetoric and mindset that only seized the opportunity of the 1966 military coup, to murder thousands of Igbo civilians, and expropriate their property across Nigeria? Given how much the Igbo have contributed to the structural development of Lagos and Abuja, has the time come to plan another cleansing, in order to deal with the Igbo problem? What indeed is behind Oba Akiolu's unguarded statement, and now this threat by the Oodua Foundation? Since I assume that this group is registered in the United States, I want the world and the US government agencies to know that this Oodua Foundation, because of its inflammatory threat, must and will be held responsible for any Igbo blood shed in Lagos. While the Oba can claim to have spoken under the influence of the spirits, the US-based foundation can only be motivated by a darker, systematic intent--the type that has given rise to genocides the world over. For at the heart of every of these mass murder events are utterances by an elite class willing to incite others to kill and mutilate, all just for that elite to consolidate its legitimacy, its access to power.