A discussion with curators, artists, and art historians.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The Clark/Mellon Workshop in Contemporary African Art examines the art historical scholarship, publications, exhibitions, and cultural institutions shaping the representation of contemporary African art. The first two-day workshop took place at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, in October 2007. The second two-day workshop takes place at the Clark May 23 and 24, 2008. The workshops bring people together from Africa, Europe, and North America to discuss and debate important questions such as “What is contemporary African art? How do scholars, artists, curators and institutions engage contemporary African art practices?” On Saturday, May 24, we invite the public to join us for an exciting closing event. The public program will focus on lively conversation and debate between participants about artists, exhibitions, biennials, curatorial practices, and research in contemporary African art.
The Narratives of Contemporary African Art A discussion with curators, artists, and art historians
8:30–9:00 am: Breakfast, Clark Café
9:00 am: Welcome and introduction
9:30 am: Session I: Contemporary Art Scenes in Africa
While state institutions for art and culture in Africa remained burdened by the legacies of colonialism and postcolonialism — along with a healthy dose of institutional inertia — independent arts organizations and collectives are taking up the gauntlet in creating contemporary art scenes and new networks of reception for art in Africa. Some of these include: L’appartement 22 (Rabat, Morocco), Zoma Contemporary Art Center (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Contemporary Arts Forum (Alexandria, Egypt), and the more recent Together Art Center (Khartoum, Sudan), Center for Contemporary Art (Lagos, Nigeria), and the Dead Revolutionaries (Johannesburg, South Africa). In this session presenters will discuss their own shifting contexts, strategies, and futures in relation to contemporary art in Africa.
Panelists: Meskerem Assegued (Zoma Contemporary Art Center), Basam El-Baroni (Alexandria Contemporary Art Forum), Hassoum Ceesay (The Gambia Museum), Abdellah Karroum (L’appartement 22), Gabi Ncgobo (independent curator) Moderator: Katarzyna Pieprzak, Williams College
11:00 am: Coffee break
11:15–11:45 am: Questions and discussion
11:45 am–12:45 pm: Session II: Artist Talk
Natasha Becker talks with the artists Mary Evans (United Kingdom), Thembinkosi Goniwe (South Africa), David Koloane (South Africa), Nandipha Mntambo (South Africa), and Allan de Souza (United States) about their past and present work, the creative process, influences, exhibitions, and the location of their work in relation to other artists and trends within the field of contemporary African art.
1:00–2:30 pm: Lunch
2:30 pm: Session III: Biennials and DAK’ART 2008
Biennials are part of the professional art world system, constituting an important art market, one that is tied to institutional art history in the west. In other words, the biennial operates on the basis of a global consensus regarding artistic practices and art historical concepts. Socialization into such an art world requires understanding---and embracing---its values. Yet, biennials have been widely appropriated, as models, in many non-western countries such as Cuba, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, China, and Senegal, in order to give greater visibility to their art on the international level. Does this mean that the biennial model provides a platform for critical and significant artistic exchange? Has it decentralized the art world, dissolved art historical hierarchies, and ended general (western) art history’s hegemony? In this session we discuss the 2008 Dak’Art biennale to explore the issue of biennials as they relate to contemporary African art.
Panelists: Natasha Becker (The Clark, Research and Academic Program), Salah Hassan (Cornell University), Abdellah Karroum (Curator, Dak’Art 2006), Yacouba Konaté (Artistic Director, Dak’Art 2006), Frank Ugiomoh (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria) Moderator: Steven Nelson (University of California, Los Angeles)
3:45 pm: Coffee break
4:00–5:00 pm: Concluding discussion with all speakers and the audience
5:00 pm: Reception for all attendees
This event is made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Foundation.
This program is also on the R22 Art Radio