Sunday, November 24, 2013

"CROSSING ARCHIVES" Symposium, Lagos, December 1, 2013

One-Day Conference and Panel Discussion
Venue: Goethe-Institut, Lagos, City Hall
Date/Time: December 1, 2013 / 10:00AM-6:00PM

J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere
Sister Bushwell at the Trade Fair, Lagos, 1961
Inkjet Print
© J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere. Image, courtesy of Folkwang Museum, Essen

Photographic archives in African countries lying south of the Sahara have for some years been a focus of attention not only in international academic discussions but also for the global art market. At the same time, cultural collective visual memory in the period between the colonial era and the “postcolonial age” is increasingly being dealt with in artistic and curatorial practice. As the archives find their way into these different realms, the existing systems for organising and categorising them are not only being examined but in many cases energised too. This has given rise to new archives that conform to their own political and aesthetic parameters.
In light of these processes and perspectives, Crossing Archives will hold three panel discussions to address the photographic archives of various geopolitical areas in African countries south of the Sahara. Aside from discussions tackling the larger picture, there will be a specific thematic focus on the situation in Nigeria. This will be addressed in its own panel and complemented by presentations drawn from archival and conservatorial practice in state institutions and private initiatives.

The conference is organised by the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, Lagos, and supported by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lagos
This event is free.
Contact for further information and admission:
Goethe-Institut Nigeria
City Hall, Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria
Tel. +234 1 7746888
Receptions by
Michael Derus, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lagos
Marc-André Schmachtel, director, Goethe-Institut, Lagos
Hans-Jürgen Lechtreck, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Introductory remarks: Kerstin Meincke, curator of VoyageRetour, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Keynote: Okwui Enwezor, director, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
Mathieu Zana Aziza Etambala, historian, University of Leuven, Belgium
Chika Okeke-Agulu, art historian and curator, Princeton University, USA
Bisi Silva, curator, Lagos, Nigeria
Santu Mofokeng, visual artist and collector, South Africa
Storm Janse Van Rensburg, curator and researcher, Johannesburg, South Africa/ Berlin, Germany
Etim Eyo, Nigeria Nostalgia Project, Lagos
Frank Ugiomoh, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Kerstin Meincke, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Kerstin Meincke, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
Panel discussion: Photography, archives and international Relations 
Michael Derus, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lagos
Hans Hielscher, picture editor, Deutsche Welle, Nigeria/ Der Spiegel, Hamburg, Germany
Marc-André Schmachtel, director, Goethe-Institut, Lagos
Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lagos and the Goethe-Institut, Lagos
Follow-up event: Drinks and snacks in the Voyage Retour exhibition space

Monday, November 18, 2013

A toast

To Okwuchukwu,
Who force-opened
Whitecountry doors
And set Harmattan
On Hegel's lips

I offer this toast
This glass of upwine

Sunday, November 17, 2013

African Art from MoMA to Newark and Brooklyn Museums

African Art Class @BrooklynMuseum: L-R: Kristen Windmuller-Luna (Teaching Assistant); Cameron Bell, Mimi Pichette, Gabriella Ravida, Margot Yale, Kosaluchi Nwokeneche-Mmegwa,Dina Murokh, Moi, Natthamon Wutilertcharoenwong
Phew! It has been two days of museum visits. Yesterday, my "Art, Apartheid and South Africa" seminar group went to the Museum of Modern Art, New York print study room (thanks to Collections Specialist Katherine Alcauskas, who was a grad student during my time at Williams College) to view their modern/contemporary South African works that were included in the Impressions from South Africa: 1965 to Now exhibition organized by Judith Hecker in 2011. From MoMA we went to my favorite museum, Newark Museum--which alas is going through a difficult time. I hope they find the right, dynamic and visionary director to turn things around and scrub the rust from what is really a gem of a museum. There we saw Sue Williamson's video work Better Lives, 2003--a pwerful commentary on black immigrant lives and experiences in post-Apartheid South Africa.
Ndop (royal portrait figure, from the Kingdom of Kuba) in Brooklyn Museum. Photo by Kristen Windmuller-Luna

Owusu Ankomah's Movement #36, 2002, Newark Museum. Photo by Kristen Windmuller-Luna

Then today, with my African Art class, I was back to New York, this time to the Brooklyn Museum's African gallery, and of course, to see Wangechi's show (again, for me!). Brooklyn's gallery of African art, which begins with sculptures and pottery from the upper Nile (Napata, Meroe), and Nok, but also Ife, Benin, Sapi-Portuguese and Tellem/Dogon, is always useful in speaking about the deep history of artistic traditions in Africa. Very few collections give that opportunity. From Brooklyn we of course went Newark to view their African gallery proper. There, the gallery is still--as with old or unfortunately standard permanent installations of African art--organized into thematic rubrics, with no sense of time, no gesture at African art's historicity. OK, yes, the Brooklyn returns to themes for everything in between that first section and the last where you find work by contemporary African artists (Shonibare, Odundo, Tshibumba, etc), but at least they tried to place datable objects within some kind of soft chronological order. Whatever, Newark still has some great stuff, like that Yoruba Man with Bicycle (which Kwame Anthony Appiah famously wrote about in his book In My Father's House) at the gallery entrance, and Sokari Douglas Camp's monumental Naked Gelede (1995).

At the end of the two days, I started seeing Art by African artists in my peripheral vision. How long will this last, doctor?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Nigeria Killed Iyayi"--Niyi Osundare

This tribute by the poet Niyi Osundare for the Nigerian author, scholar and trade unionist, Festus Iyayi who died in a car accident involving a politician's convoy. Let me ask: how many Nigerian dead will it take to curb or ban these reckless convoys of corrupt politicians and criminals in power?

Please read:
Nigeria Killed Iyayi By Niyi Osundare | Sahara Reporters

The Guardian review of Wangechi's show

Here is the link to The Guardian (London) review of Wangechi Mutu's Fantastic Journey at the Brooklyn Museum. To read click HERE

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tervuren Museum closes, to re-open in 2017

The Tervuren Museum, that edifice to Belgian darkly imperial adventure in the Congo is set to close this month, and hopes to reemerge a better, less jaded institution in 2017. It will have a monumental task re-framing the murderous, mean enterprise King Leopold called his personal property, and which the Belgian government later ran in such a way that, as far as I know, sowed the seeds for the interminable tragedy that became the independent country of Congo after 1960. Which is why the ghost of Patrice Lumumba still haunts the marbled space inside that museum. How to look at the refurbished museum--and its amazing collection of stuff from central Africa--after 2017 and not feel totally oppressed and depressed by this history, is a job for which I do not envy the museum's officials and their consultants. But it can be done. We wait.

Here is a story about the planned refurbishment, published by ArtDaily.