Monday, July 25, 2022

Illustration by Joshua Obeng-Boateng

 BBC has just created this fantastic podcast series called "Museum of Bad Vibes," with the first episode on "The Bird of Prophecy Staff," one of the more familiar objects that constitute the Benin Bronzes corpus found these days in museums that received artifacts looted from Benin City in 1897. In the podcast, the bronze staff speaks about its place in Benin society and its post-1897 imprisonment in the museum cabinet.

Here's the podcast synopsis:

The Bird of Prophecy staff has been locked up in a box unable to speak and when finally given the chance, he tells the story of his former glory as a ceremonial symbol of pride for his people.

Bird of Prophecy (ahianmwen-oro), 32.4cm, 16-19th century, presently at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

On this tour, Hanna Adan, with the assistance of experts, explores the history of the Benin Bronzes, from the Benin Kingdom. The sculptures include elaborately decorated cast plaques, commemorative heads, animal and human figures, items of royal regalia, and personal ornaments. They were created from the 16th century onwards in the West African Kingdom of Benin, which was part of the British Empire from 1897 to 1960, and is now part of Nigeria.

Bird of Prophecy (ahianmwen-oro), 20.3cm, 16-19th century, presently at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

Through the eyes of the Bird of Prophecy staff, Hanna tells the story of the British Empire raid, the destruction that saw the kingdom crumble, and the dispersal of the famous Benin Bronzes around the globe.

Through this sonic museum tour we ask - what is the Museum’s duty towards contested objects of spiritual and cultural significance in their collections?

TO LISTEN CLICK HERE!

Produced and Presented by Hanna Adan

With story by George Bailey

Assistant Producer and Editor: Kwaku Dapaah-Danquah

Researcher: Seyi Bolarin

Starring: Oluwafemi Olugbade

Contributors: Oluwatoyin Sogbesan, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Sonita Alleyn

Production Mentors: Jane Thurlow and Corinna Jones

Sound Designer: Lauren Armstrong-Carter

Tech Producer: Bob Nettles

Executive Producers: Khaliq Meer & Leanne Alie

Commissioned for BBC Sounds Audio Lab by Khaliq Meer

Artwork by Joshua Obeng-Boateng

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Chika Okeke-Agulu on the call for artistic expression and rise of Africa...


I interview from 2020 is one of my most biographic. Thanks to the guys at Luminary FM.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Oxford Union Debates on Restitution of Looted Artefacts: May 12, 2022




Topic: “This House Would Repatriate Contested Artefacts”

Whether the Elgin Marbles should be returned is a perennial question. Amidst increasing scrutiny of symbols of Europe’s colonial past, multiple states and the UN have called for the return of contested cultural property. From the Koh-i-Noor Diamond and the Rosetta Stone, to the Benin Bronzes and Moai Statues of Easter Island, British institutions are full of artefacts claimed by nations across the globe. This poses the question of whether it is time for museums to heed the calls to ‘wash [their] hands of blood and return’ everything. Can any country ever legitimately own artefacts of collective historic significance? Can modern states truly lay claim to their countries’ history?

 

Proposition

Chika Okeke-Agulu

Artist, curator, and historian specialising in African and African diaspora art history. He is Director of African Studies at Princeton University and was appointed as the Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at New York University.

 

Steph Scholten

Director of the Hunterian Museum. He has previously served as Director of Heritage Collections at the University of Amsterdam, and has worked for the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, and for the National Institute for Conservation in Amsterdam.

 

Alice Procter

Art historian, art activist, and creator of ‘Uncomfortable Art Tours’, an educational project offering unofficial guided tours exploring the imperial background of major institutions. She also runs a gallery and museum review podcast, ‘The Exhibitionist’.

 

Stephen Fry

British actor, activist, broadcaster, comedian, director, and writer. He has repeatedly appealed to the British government for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. He has written in support of the #LostMyMarbles campaign on Twitter, and has expressed his wish to see the statues steeped in the ‘blue lights of Greece’.

 

Opposition

Gary Vikan

Academic and former Director of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has curated a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions, provides consulting services to cultural clients and pursues projects at the intersection of the arts and sciences.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Princeton University Art Museum Seeks Assistant Curator for African Art

The Princeton University Art Museum welcomes applications for an Assistant Curator of African Art. This two-year full-time benefits-eligible appointment will help shape the presentation of African art in new collections galleries in a new building designed by Sir David Adjaye, scheduled to open in late 2024. The curator will report to the chief curator and work in close coordination with the director, curators in other areas, designers, educators, faculty, and others. 

The collection of African art at Princeton—growing regularly through gifts and purchase—includes excellent examples of masks, figures, and other works of art, with particular strengths in the arts of Western and Central Africa. In addition, African and African diasporic photography, modern and contemporary art, and works on paper are represented in the collection. The curator joins us at a dynamic time and will play a key role in the collections’ research, installation, and interpretation. 

As part of broader efforts to present art in global, transhistorical contexts in the new building, the curator will develop checklists, conceptualize installation strategies, and produce didactics for African art, in collaboration with the chief curator, director, educators, and designers. The curator should be well versed in area scholarship and the latest curatorial and museological approaches in African art; they should also be able to tap into a network of specialists for expert consultation, as needed. The curator should have the experience necessary to facilitate the presentation of a range of artistic and community voices in the galleries. The ideal candidate will be able to complete deep object research, including provenance; will embrace the possibilities of an academic museum; and will communicate effectively with scholarly and diverse audiences. The curator will also contribute to new acquisitions, participate in collections-based teaching on campus, respond to collections inquiries, and work with conservators and registrars to address conservation and mount-making needs. 

An advanced degree in art history or a related field is preferred, with strong knowledge of historic material and a minimum of 3 years' meaningful experience developing and implementing exhibitions and collections installations. Fluency in the ethical and legal complexities surrounding the history of the collection, display, and interpretation of African art is critical. Excellent communication and writing skills, including experience preparing didactic materials, are expected, together with a high degree of organization, self-motivation, and attention to detail. The salary range for an assistant curator is $70,000-$90,000. 

To learn more, please visit http://artmuseum.princeton.edu. Interested candidates should apply at https://www.princeton.edu/acad-positions/position/25161

This position is subject to the University’s background check policy. Contact Review of candidates will begin immediately and continue until filled. 

Please direct all inquiries and nominations, including letters of interest and resumes, to, in confidence: Chris Newth Cnewth@princeton.edu Associate Director for Collections and Exhibitions, Princeton University Art Museum

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture, the Book!

Details: Hard Cover, 360 pages, 319 images
Publisher: Damiani
Date: spring 2022




 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

New Book on El Anatsui by Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu




Details: 
Publisher: Damiani, spring 2022
Pages: 360
Illustrations: 319 color
Binding: Hard Cover
Price: $70.00