Word View

On the Need to Consume: An interview with Manthia Diawara

Jessica Levin Martinez & Michael Tymkiw, 27 April 2008

This interview was originally published in the Chicago Art Journal and is reproduced here with permission from Manthia Diawara.

Manthia Diawara is Professor of Comparative Literature, Film and Africana Studies at New York University, where he also serves as Director of the Institute of African American Affairs. He has written extensively on literature and visual culture, and some of his best-known books include We Won’t Budge: An African Exile in the World (2003), In Search of Africa (1998), and African Cinema: Politics and Culture (1992). Diawara is also an acclaimed documentary filmmaker whose credits include Who is Afraid of Ngugi? (2006), Conakry Kas (2004), Bamako Sigi Kan (2002), Diaspora Conversation (2000), and Rouch in Reverse (1995).

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Re-reading Malangatana

Mario Pissarra, 6 January 2008

[An edited version of this essay appeared in Farafina # 11]

For more than 40 years Malangatana has been one of Mozambique’s best known cultural figures, and indisputably her best known visual artist. Since his first appearance in a group exhibition in Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) in 1959, Malangatana’s works have been shown in numerous countries across the globe. His trademark style- dense compositions contained within shallow pictorial space, consisting of simplified shapes, mostly figurative, often with pronounced eyes and teeth, and typically rendered with a bright palette and bold outlines- is instantly recognizable.

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The stakes of art criticism in Africa

Yacouba Konate, 4 November 2007

[This article originally appeared in Gallery No. 19, March 1999, pp. 14-15; and appears here with the permission of the author and the publisher. Initial interest in republishing this article stemmed in part from the need to highlight the critical contribution of publications produced in Africa – Gallery was published from 1994 to 2002 by the Delta Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe. On the occasion of the forthcoming AICA/VANSA seminar (8-10 November 2007) it seemed a good time to make Professor Konate’s article accessible, and to pose the question: have there been any substantive changes since this was written? MP]

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The JAG is the SANG

Mario Pissarra, 13 October 2007

I have long argued that transformation of the South African National Gallery has been badly managed. Thirteen years into democracy it has failed to produce a demographically representative pool of curators. Perhaps more importantly, it has failed to re-orientate its Eurocentric origins by neglecting to prioritise developing relationships with other African countries. Instead, in the name of transformation, the SANG has been absorbed into a seemingly dysfunctional, costly bureacracy called Iziko Museums, a top heavy administration that has few admirers, even amongst its own ranks.

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Imbacu [exhibition review]

Mario Pissarra, 31 August 2007

From the outset I welcomed this exhibition since exile (‘Imbacu’ in isiXhosa) has received scant attention from South African curators and art historians, despite being perhaps the earliest form of resistance practiced by our artists. I was also curious whether Loyiso Qanya’s curatorial debut represented a shift within the SANG, an institution that has done little to create meaningful curatorial opportunities for trainees.

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Shaping Art Education in Africa: Face-to-Face Dialogues on Curriculum, Teaching – Learning and Assessment

Barthosa Nkurumeh, 14 July 2007

Deliberating Access to Quality Art Education in the 21st Century

Greetings! Or ndewo, as it is said in one of the Kwa language groups. The following are the proceedings of the panel, Shaping Art Education in Africa: Face-to-Face Dialogues on Curriculum, Teaching-Learning and Assessment at the14th Triennial Symposium on African Art organized by the Arts Council of African Studies Association (ACASA) and the University of Florida (UFL), Gainesville held at UFL on Friday, March 30, 2007 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in Room 2 of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

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“Made in Africa” Biennale: Afrika Heritage and the Politics of Representation

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, 13 June 2007

The baggage of post-coloniality continues to weigh-in strongly in the discourse of contemporary African art, moreso when this discourse is coloured by the politics and economics of representation. In the 1990s, the contest that ensued in the global art space with regards to African art was one of representation and authorial spokesmanship that was engendered as a result of the seminal but hugely controversial Les Magiciens de la Terre exhibition of 1989 curated by Frenchman Jean-Hubert Martin. The blockbuster show undoubtedly reconfigured the reception of modern African art in the West. But beyond that, it helped to facilitate the emergence and acceptance of contemporary African art on a large scale in major cultural institutions of the West. This to borrow from Olu Oguibe, set the tone for reclamation of author-ity and reversal of imposed anonymity on the native, perpetrated by ethnography that effectively bars claims to subjectivity and normativity.

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Dirty Laundry: Can we think beyond Venice?

Mario Pissarra, 7 June 2007

I have previously argued that Africa’s representation in Venice is irrelevant when compared to the need to develop alternatives at ‘home’. In essence my argument is that we should not judge the success of South African art (or African or ‘non-western’ art for that matter) by its presence or absence in the prime venues of the ‘international’ arena, of which the Venice Biennale is both a leading example and symbol. The health of a country’s art should not be judged by the number of international ‘stars’ it generates, since this may provide a false picture of the state of art in that country or region. Rather it should be evaluated on the quality and extent of its art practice, galleries and museums, art education, publishing, patronage, and all the critical components of art infrastructure that are essential for the development of art.

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Atelier Alexandria International Artists Workshop 2006: A Report

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nwezi, 13 January 2007

The AAW International Artists Workshop 2006 provided me with an important opportunity to visit the historic country of Egypt and the city of Alexandria. Workshops provide an enabling space for artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds to commingle, network and learn from each other, and the AAW workshop was no exception.I arrived in Egypt on November 17, two days before the actual start of the workshop and this afforded me the opportunity to spend two days in Cairo.
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