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25 Years

20th and 21st Century Networks of Production: Seminal Exhibitions, Biennials and the Cultural Poetics of African Art

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 12:00pm
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Presented by Phokeng Setai, ICGC Visiting Scholar, Centre for Humanities Research (University of the Western Cape)

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The question of curating on the African continent has been widely debated in the field of the visual arts, with scholars such as Okwui Enzwezor (2009) and Olabisi Silva (2017) arguing for the recognition of curatorial practice as a critical site of intellectual inquiry. However, these approaches have not adequately addressed the issue of the role of the curator in the broader field of contemporary African cultural production. In this talk, I analyze the issue of the expanded role of the curatorial practitioner with special attention to the curator as an agent of discursive knowledge production inside the framework of the Black-African and global art-world. I specifically problematize the role of curatorial practice in the context of notable cultural events marked in the historiography of the field of African art and cultural production. I will discuss the spurt of exhibitions (micro and macro-scale) dating back to the cultural festivals that started in the late 1960s to the more recent boom in African biennials in the 1990s, and place them in dialogue with the phenomenon of the neoliberalizing global art market and demand for African art and cultural production that continues into the present.