Saturday, July 18, 2015

1:54 FORUM NY: Opening Remarks & Panel: Global Black Subjectivities

Just found this audio recording of the panel discussion organized by Koyo Kouoh (of Raw Material Company, Dakar) for 1:54 Forum, as part of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, 15-16 May 2015, at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NYC. If you have the time and interest on black subjectivities and contemporary art, you are welcome to listen to it on Youtube.

Listen on Youtube

And BTW, here is a note I wrote in May following my trip to 1:54 Art Fair:

 Last week, I was at the 1:54 Forum, the superb discussion program of the Contemporary African Art Fair established a couple of years ago by Touria El Glaoui. 1:54 (the 54, referring to the number of African Countries) is arguably the most important platform for selling contemporary African art to the world, through the agency of art galleries invested in this field. By placing the Forum, organized by curator Koyo Kouoh, who runs the RAW Material Company in Dakar, at the very center of the fair program, Touria and Koyo signal in unmistakable terms their awareness that the fair, apart from serving as a metamarket for African art, has to join intellectual and scholarly groundwork needed to further break the barriers that have long kept this field--especially the work of artists working inside the continent--from reaching certain attractive realms of the art world.
In coming to New York, the art and money capital of the United States, which unfortunately has not been a particularly fertile ground for contemporary African art (as big as its art world is, only the first rate Jack Shainman and, to a lesser extent, Bill Karg's longer-running Contemporary African Art Gallery, and Skoto Gallery have kept continental African artists visible in the city's art scene) the organizers of the art fair seem poised to shake things up as never before.The question in the end is whether stakeholders--galleries and collectors from New York and elsewhere--will recognize the fair's potential and therefore identify with it in the coming years. My hope though is that the organizers of 1-54 keep faith with the work of supporting intellectual debates, artists' presentations and conversations anchored around its Forum. But also, I would like to see the fair expand its horizon beyond serving as platform for African art galleries. It ought to grow, to become the place where galleries in the African and black diaspora--whether they are in Europe, the Americas, Asia--can identify with. That is to say, let it become the Pan-African contemporary art fair. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Class Day Photos, Art & Archaeology Department, Princeton

Tuesday, June 1 was Class Day, and this year was an especially good year with some fine especially theses for the (Program 1: Art History) and thesis exhibitions (for Program 2: Studio Art). And yes, some really smart young women and men. 

Chair, Michael Koortbojian address the audience

Professor Michael Koortbojian

 Here are samples of Honors Thesis and Thesis Exhibitions from Programs 1 & 2:
Phway Su Aye thesis on Yangon's colonial architectural heritage

Joseph Thomas Bonura's thesis on War Posters in America

Elizabeth Hall Rise on Social Surrealism in mid-20th-century America

Yael Wollstein's thesis on the French modernist Maurice Denis

Hoi Lam Helen Wong's investigative thesis on a carved stone fragment in the Princeton
Univ. Art Museum, from ancient Egypt

Joe Scanlan, Director & Professor of Visual Arts (Lewis Center for the Arts), presents
thesis exhibitions

Margaret Ann Craycraft's video, Labor Against Waste (in the background)

Kemy Chuxia Lin's Disorientations, an installation featuring multimedia evidence of her
documented trip to the moon

Amber Symone Stewart's Black Balance, a video and photographic installation on comparative blackness

Christopher Bogle Webb St. John's Bench, a multimedia installation on the relationship between object (Bench),
meaning and experience
Amber Stewart receives The Herbert L. Lucas Award in Visual Arts

Elizabeth Hall Rise receives The White Prize in Art and Archaeology, the top departmental prize. Ms. Rise also received the Grace May Tilton Prize in the Program in American Studies

Alison Kay Itzkowitz receives the Rensselear Lee Prize (for a thesis on art theory and literature)

Yael Wollstein receives The Irma S. Steiz Prize for the best thesis in the Field of Modern Art

Dalma Foldesi and Misha Semenov jointly received The Frederick Barnard White Prize in Architecture. Misha was Princeton's Valedictorian this year! 

Elizabeth Hall Rise receives The Federick Barnard White Prize in Art and Archaeology

Phway Su Aye receives The Senior Thesis Prize

Amber Stewart's grand father among the guests 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Public presentation of my book Postcolonial Modernism @ Goethe-Institut, Lagos, June 18

I am truly excited that there will be a public presentation of my newest book at the Goethe-Institut, Lagos on June 18. I am expecting friends new and old, and colleagues from far and near. Please come if you are in the vicinity of Lagos. Thanks to Marc-Andre Schmachtel, the Director of the GI, Lagos for making this possible!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Artists Residency program opportunity at Khoj, India

Coriolis Effect
Currents across India and Africa

Khoj International Residency program
1 – 31 August, 2015

Application Deadline: June 1, 2015

Khoj invites applications from artists and cultural practitioners for its forthcoming residency program, Coriolis Effect: Currents across India and Africa, a project which seeks to activate the social, economic and cultural relationship and historical exchange which exists between India and the continent of Africa. In part, the rationale behind Coriolis Effect is in response to Khoj’s immediate neighborhood of Khirkee Village Extension; a dense urban –village environment in New Delhi that has been home to a stream of immigrants from within the Indian Subcontinent, as well as migrants from countries such as Cameroon, Somali, Nigeria, Kenya, Afghanistan and Nepal, to name a few. This hotpot of cultural difference has long been a source of friction between residents, often bubbling into acts of discrimination based violence. This project has grown out of a series of encounters and conversations which took place in and around Khoj through 2014.

This project invites participants to unpack notions of geography, memory, cultural exchange as well as tension and fear of the ‘other’, through history. Coriolis Effect will not only use the present context of 21st century migrations, but equally refer to various moments of exchange through history; from the recent past of the Non-Aligned movements in the 20th century, to the cultural relationship shared exchanged by Indians and Africans from the 1st century AD onwards. 
Specific areas of interest for this project include ‘Identity’- whether informed through ideas of race, ethnicity and cultural difference; or informed through notions of ‘belonging’, within the changing context of what constitutes a nation, and what delineates a city, in today’s burgeoning landscape. Identity can also be construed through understanding of gendered and sexualized spaces, in particular, the presentation of ‘masculinity’ as a trope of fear and aggression in the context of racial difference.  The project will also investigate the presence of ‘memory’, through a re-collection of this shared history, and remnants of this history in physical and intangible forms alike. A final point of departure for this project includes political imaginings, as informed through allegiances created in the late 20th century, following the period of the Cold War and the Non-Aligned period.

Application Details

To apply for this program, please submit the following documents to ‘

·         Recent C.V.
·         A letter of intent / project proposal
·         Images or links to past work

Residency Details

Selected applicants will receive a production budget, daily living allowance, studio space and accommodation at Khoj, as well as curatorial and administrative support to realize proposed projects. Khoj supports national and international travel for selected applicants where possible. International applicants are encouraged to seek support for travel where possible. 

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