Thursday, July 22, 2021

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Distinguished Okwui Enwezor Lecture at University of Bayreuth, July 15, 2021

 07.07.2021 16:47

New lecture series in honour of Okwui Enwezor celebrates premiere

Christian Wißler Pressestelle
Universität Bayreuth

    In recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of African and Global Arts, the Africa Multiple Cluster ofExcellence and the Iwalewahaus at the University of Bayreuh decided to honour the late Nigerian art curator, historian and writer Okwui Enwezor by establishing an annual lecture carrying his name. The inaugural lecture of the series will be held on 15.07.2021 by Prof. Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu, within the framework of the International Cluster Conference “Africa*n Relations: Modalities Reflected”. The event is open to the public and will take place online due to the pandemic.

    Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture 2021
    Termin: 15 July 2021, 6-7.30 pm (CEST)
    Welcome: Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann, Dean, Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
    Introduction: Dr. Ulf Vierke, Director Iwalewahaus
    Lecture: Prof. Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University: “The Postcolonial Museum”

    For almost three decades, Okwui Enwezor was one of the most influential figures in the field of contemporary art and culture with globally recognized achievements as a curator, critic, publisher, writer, poet, historian, activist, and public speaker. Awarded with numerous prizes, Enwezor gained public recognition as the artistic director of a number of global exhibitions. His curatorial practice and academic work challenged, transformed, and significantly shaped the global contemporary art landscape and continues do so after his passing in 2019.

    In order to celebrate his achievements and work for free thought and action, the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence has teamed up with Iwalewahaus at the University of Bayreuth to establish a new lecture series. The Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture will be held annually to honour the late Nigerian art curator. The lecture titled The Postcolonial Museum will be delivered by Chika Okeke-Agulu, Director of Graduate Studies and professor of art history at the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA).

    New lecture format

    The annual Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture entails a new event concept. Dr. Ulf Vierke, director of Iwalewahaus, explains: “It is crucial that the format of lecture is not conceived in a traditional sense, but rather as an invitation to think together”. Each year, an artist or scholar, either an individual or a collective, will be invited to present fresh thoughts on matters of art, curation and politics in a lecture hosted by the Africa Multiple Cluster at one of its five locations (Bayreuth; Lagos, Nigeria; Eldoret, Kenya; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Makhanda, South Africa). This year, the lecture will be part of the International Cluster Conference and held in a virtual format.

    Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019): a life in the service of African and Global Arts

    Born in Calabar in Nigeria in 1963, Okwui Enwezor earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science at New Jersey City University (USA). He gained visibility in the wider public as artistic director of the second edition of the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997 and went on to shape the field of African and Global Arts working in Seville, Spain and as adjunct curator at the International Center for Photography, New York. Further positions included Dean of Academic Affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute and visiting professorships in art history at University of Pittsburgh, Columbia University in New York, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Umea, Sweden. He was one of only two personalities to curate both the Venice Biennale (2005) and the Documenta in Kassel (2002). In 2011, he was appointed director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, where he passed away on 15 March 2019.

    In February 2019, a few weeks before his premature demise, the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies had decided to confer an honorary doctorate to Okwui Enwezor. The envisioned date of the conferral, 24 May 2019, turned out to be the day of his funeral in his Nigerian hometown in Anambra State in south-eastern Nigeria. “Since the honorary doctorate did not come to pass, it is only befitting for the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence to honour this trailblazer for African Arts by dedicating a lecture series to his memory,” Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann, Dean of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, points out.

    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Sabine Greiner
    Academic Journalist
    Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
    ​University of Bayreuth
    Phone: (+49) 921 / 55-4795

    Tuesday, June 1, 2021

    WNYC's "The Takeaway" radio program on Restitution of African Art, June, 1, 2019

    Today, June 1 at 9:40AM EST, WNYC's popular program, The Takeaway, guest-hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry for Tanzina Vega, featured a discussion on the restitution of African Art by European and American museums and collections. Here below is the information published on the program page and a link to the podcast. The other program guest, along with me, is Karen Attiah who is the Global Opinions Editor and award-winning journalist at Washington Post.

    Undated photo put out by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, shows an illegally smuggled, artifact repatriated from the United Kingdom
    ( Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities Associated Press )

     The murder of George Floyd — and last summer’s protests against systemic racism — reignited conversations about the racist and colonialist legacies of so many institutions across the globe, including museums. 

    Now, some museums are making good on their promises to fight systemic racism in very tangible ways. This April, in a historic move, Germany announced it would return stolen African artifacts currently in its museums back to Nigeria including the priceless Benin Bronzes of the then-Kingdom of Benin. And in March, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland agreed to repatriate its Benin Bronze. France also indicated similar plans last year. 

    Yet some museums — including the famed British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art — have not committed to doing the same, despite having sizable collections of looted objects like the Benin Bronzes. 

    Karen Attiahglobal opinions editor at the Washington Post, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor at Princeton University in the Department of Art & Archaeology, joined The Takeaway to discuss the calls to repatriate stolen items to their origin countries.

    Click here to listen to the radio program

    Thursday, May 27, 2021


    African Artists from 1882 to Now (Pre-order)

    Phaidon Editors with introduction by Chika Okeke-Agulu and glossary by Joseph L Underwood

    Price: USD$69.95


    A groundbreaking A-Z appraisal of the work of over 300 modern and contemporary artists born or based in Africa

    In recent years Africa’s booming art scene has gained substantial global attention, with a growing number of international exhibitions and a stronger-than-ever presence on the art market worldwide. Here, for the first time, is the most substantial survey to date of modern and contemporary African-born or Africa-based artists. Working with a panel of experts, this volume builds on the success of Phaidon’s bestselling Great Women Artists in re-writing a more inclusive and diverse version of art history.


    Format: Hardback

    Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)

    Pages: 352 pp

    Illustrations: 315 illustrations

    ISBN: 9781838662431

    About the author

    Conceived and edited by Phaidon editors.

    Chika Okeke-Agulu is Professor of African and African Diaspora Art at Princeton University. He is the author of several books including Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (2015), and is a co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

    Thursday, May 20, 2021

    Flashback: My Conversation with El Anatsui at Princeton, April 22, 2015

    How time flies! It is already more than six years ago that my friend and teacher El Anatsui was in Princeton as the Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984, International Artist-in-Residence. The highlight was, of course, the acquisition of his work, Another Place (2014) by the Princeton University Art Museum.

    El Anatsui, Another Place, 2014

     And then there was our public conversation on campus, April 22, 2015, which I cherish, as I have several others we have done over the years.

    PRI's "The World" feature on the Return of Benin Bronzes by Germany


    Last week, "The World", the radio program on PRI, published a podcast in response to the news from Germany to the effect that the German government plans to return the Benin Bronzes in its state museums. The story was anchored around an interview with me by the reporter Sarah Birnbaum. Listen to the 5-minute feature here:

    Cambridge Union Debate: "Should Museums Return their Colonial Artefacts"?

     On May 17, the Cambridge Union, reputedly the world's oldest debating club, at Cambridge University hosted one of its debate panels, this time on the question: "Should Museums Return their Colonial Artefacts"? The four invited debate participants were: Dr. Monica Hanna who is acting Dean of the College of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) in Aswan, Egypt; Dan Hicks, archaeologist and anthropologist and Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He is also the author of the hard-hitting book, The Brutish Museums (2020); Felwine Sarr, a humanist, philosopher, economist,  and the Anne-Marie Bryan Chair in French and Francophone Studies at Duke University, and is the author of Afrotopia (2019); and me. Cambridge Union Speakers Officer Tara Bhagat moderated. I really liked this panel--among the many that I have been involved in this past year, on the subject of restitution of African artefacts in European and American museums and institutions.

    If you are interested in learning news stuff about the issues pertinent to the vexed question of colonial-era looting of African artefacts and cultural heritage, the fate of the captive objects, and the broader meaning and scope of restitution, the full panel can be found here on Youtube.