Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nigerian Governors and Democracy

Tomorrow, May 29, Nigeria will celebrate something it calls "Democracy Day." Fair enough: after all Nigeria has had uninterrupted democratic government since 1999. The age of military dictatorships now seem like a long, long-a-go-nightmare. So, yes, let's have a "Democracy Day," and let the civil servants who spend much of their time idling in the office have one more official reason to not go to work. And of course our thieving politicians will have reason--not that they need one--to waste public funds on democracy galas.

But did not the governors of the 36 States of Nigeria, the President of the Republic, and his party the PDP ("Africa's Largest Political Party") get the memo about what constitutes appropriate and legal democratic practice? Should they not be spending time in the dog house for doing everything they could the make rubbish the very idea of democracy?

So last week the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), a major power player in the land had its election for the group's chairmanship, with the incumbent Rotimi Amechi and Jonah Jang, the candidate presented by the Presidents' party, as candidates. The initial result showed that Amechi--the President's great rival--retained his office with 19 votes, Jang with 16. But soon after, our elected governors announced the vote (of just 35 individuals) had been rigged in Amechi's favor! Mind you the election was conducted by the governors themselves. So the President's men formed an alternative NGF with Mr. Jang as the new "leader." The PDP quickly expelled Amechi from the party.

But here is the problem. There happens to exist this 8-min video of what actually took place at the venue of the election. Here is the question: if our governors could not be trusted to conduct and report the result of an election of only 35 individuals, how could a National Election Commission established by these same people be trusted to organize and credible nation-wide Presidential election in 2015?

Here is the video from Youtube.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Marcia's exhibition at Susan Inglett on Artforum

Marcia's ongoing Tease solo show at Susan Inglett (New York) is among the seven exhibitions selected from New York in the current "Critics' Picks" section of Artforum.com. Read the REVIEW by Ryan Steadman.

ArtDaily newspaper on Simon Ottenberg's gift to the Newark Museum

The ArtDaily online newspaper published on Simon Ottenberg's recent gift to the the Newark Museum of modern and contemporary African art works. An exhibition of selected works from the collection, currently showing at the Museum, has been organized by associate curator Perrin Lathrop who, by the way, is coming to Princeton in the fall! To read, click here

Friday, May 10, 2013

Marcia's "Tease" opening @ Susan Inglett (pictures)

Marcia's opening last night at Susan Inglett art gallery in Chelsea, New York was, take my word for it, fabulous. Old and new friends came out to celebrate this exhibition in which Marcia showed sculptures for the very first time! I will let others comment on the exhibition itself, but here are some pictures from the opening:

Hal Foster and Okwui Enwezor

Lucia Dogbeh-Onovoh, with Johannes and Sophie Lehmann

Lawyer and Art Collector David Ross with Professor Simon Ottenberg
Adedoyin Teriba and Okwui Enwezor
Susan Inglett and art collector/curator Holly Ross

Marcia and Donna Sesee
Carol Barnard Ottenberg and David Ross
Simon Ottenberg and Johannes Lehman (and Sophia, center) of Cornell University
Simon Ottenberg and Marcia
Artist Ard Berge, Holly and David Ross, and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Alisa LaGamma
Marcia with Steven Nettles and Ellen Lagow-Nettles of Art Now Management 
Molly Nettles with Ngozi and Arinze Okeke-Agulu
Sherman Edmiston of Essie Green Galleries (center)

Hal Foster (left), Kristen Windmuller-Luna (center) and Joseph Luna (right)
Lucia Dogbeh-Onovoh, Marcia with Ngozi, Okwui Enwezor and Hal Foster
Susan Inglett and Gary Schneider, Director of Education @ Monclair Museum of Art
Kristen Windmuller-Luna and Joseph Luna
Lucia Dogbeh and Okwui Enwezor
Marcia, Ngozi and independent curator Tumelo Mosaka
Perrin Lathrop of Newark Museum and Simon Ottenberg

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adichie Reads from "Americanah" at Princeton, May 15

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — Americanah
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 6PM — Labyrinth Books Princeton
Labyrinth Books, Princeton's Center for African American Studies, the Program in African Studies, and the Carl Fields Center at Princeton invite you to a reading by acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her new novel. Introduction by Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu of Princeton.

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, comes a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. 

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the 2003 O. Henry Prize winner. She was shortlisted for the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and longlisted for the Booker. Her other books are the acclaimed novel Half of a Yellow Sun and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. She now divides her time between the U.S. and Nigeria. Chika Okeke-Agulu is Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Archaeology and at the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University.

Please r.s.v.p to info-pr@labyrinthbooks.com

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Image of the Black in Western Art Symposium @ Yale

Yesterday, the poet Elizabeth Alexander and art historian Koben Mercer both of Yale University organized one of the most invigorating symposiums I ever attended. It went onall day, but the time seemed to have gone so quickly!  
David Bindman of University of London and Harvard spoke about the influential Image of the Black in Western Art series several volumes of which he co-edited with Henry Louis Gates of Harvard. Then there were Jeremy Tanner of University College, London, who talked about representations of blackness in the ancient world (mostly Greek), Paul Kaplan of Purchase College, SUNY, on the same subject but focusing on early modern Europe, and Suzanne Blier of Harvard who examined the published sources of African art sculpture on which Picasso based some of his more evocative, early figural abstractions. For his part Kobena Mercer gave an expansive account of  "Black Atlantic practices since 1980"--an impressive survey of four modes of address adopted by black artists in Europe, the Americas and Africa. The concluding panel discussion--chaired by artist and retired Princeton professor of history Nell Painter--included a re-examination of the work and life of the black, proto-feminist sculptor Edmonia Lewis, by Jennifer Brody of Stanford; my talk on contemporary African and African Diaspora art in the age of globalization; and a paper on the syncretic Caribbean modernism by Yale's Erica James
As if these were not enough, the erudite formal responses to the Tanner, Kaplan, Blier and Mercer lectures respectively by Yale's Emily Greenwood, Boston University's Allison Blakely, Katie Trumpener of Yale, and Columbia's Kellie Jones made the symposium a most memorable event. 
Elizabeth Alexander's Welcome note
David Bindman's introduction to the series

Paul Kaplan of Purchase College, SUNY speaks of Image of the Black in Early Modern Europe
Alexander and art historian Sarah Lewis
Second left: Art historian Erica James of Yale who spoke Caribbean art; Bindman (2nd right) and Mercer

Bindman with Kaplan; 2nd right, Yale graduate student Kristin Graves and partner  Emmanuel Okoli

Mercer and Tanner
Lewis, Mercer, Painter and moi