Sylvester Ogbechie, UC Santa Barbara
Dr. Ogbechie investigates the disjunction between curatorial representations of contemporary African arts, in which the work of contemporary artists based in the West is taken to stand in for Africa in contrast to the realities of production and representation of contemporary art on the African continent itself. Building on his recent criticism of some curators’ willful marginalization of contemporary arts in and from Africa, the speaker will engage Africa as a site of globalization and raise the question of what, if anything, contemporary curators owe to examination of lived experience of contemporary artists in Africa. He will offer thoughts about where curatorial practice is (or could be) heading in the 21st century with regard to African artistic production, and suggest how to recognize or reinsert African contemporary artists in(to) the sites of their own creative endeavors.
Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie is Associate Professor of Art History (Global African Arts and Visual Culture) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His recent book, Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist, was awarded the Herskovits Award of the African Studies Association as the most outstanding scholarly work in any field of African Studies for 2009. Dr. Ogbechie is Director of Aachron Knowledge Systems and author of the award-winning blog AACHRONYM, founder and editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture, and the 2010 Getty Scholar and Consortium Professor. His Getty project, The Economics of Cultural Patrimony: Politics and Poetics of Postcolonial Museum Displays, analyzes strategies of display through which African cultural objects in museum collections are converted into discursive and fungible artworks. The project defines modes of representation and display of African arts, and considers how emergent African museums can secure greater access to African cultural patrimony in Western collections.
The lecture series addresses dynamic alternative approaches to Africa’s representation in museum and exhibition contexts of the 21st century. Within African art studies, exhibitions have been one of the primary vehicles of representation, with some of the most important research in the field taking shape through museum exhibitions and associated scholarly publications. Yet the display of cultures has been fraught with the politics of representation. This forward-looking series of lectures will present and envision critical curatorial interventions that embrace multiple facets of traditional, modern, contemporary, urban, and diasporic African experience. We shall seek to complicate conventional wisdoms about what it means to organize exhibitions, and to engage artists and communities in the actions of curatorial practice.
These presentations are part of the UCLA African Studies Center Monday Africa Seminar Series (MASS), funded by a grant from the UCLA International Institute. Additional funding provided by the Fowler Museum at UCLA.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Pay-by-space and all-day ($10) parking available in lot 3.
Sponsor(s): African Studies Center
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