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