African Art, Interviews, Narratives: Bodies of Knowledge at Work

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Almost every exhibition following Magiciens de la terre offered a taxonomy or system of categorization that helped to reflect the very notion of contemporary African art, but they failed to recognize the postcolonial need of giving up the Eurocentric epistemology. Contemporary African art is believed to feature particularities typical to African aesthetics while at the same time it shares properties with other international contemporary arts.

Therefore, it is both, shaped by and feeding into the globalizing art worlds and art markets, like any other contemporary arts. At the same time, there are a lot of contemporary art practices and forms in African regions and cities that are almost exclusively locally known. While meeting all three requirements of being contemporary, art, and African, they fail to fit into a certain type of art production that has been spreading on the international art market in the last 30 years.

Exhibitions variously showed work by artists based in Africa; by artists using aesthetics typical to African traditions; by African artists living in the West but including aesthetics and topics related to their "roots"; [3] traditional artworks related to customary practices such as rituals; and urban African art that reflects the modern experience of cultural pluralism and hybridity. Modernity as a colonial and postcolonial experience appears as an intrinsic and significant attribute in most conceptions of contemporary African art.

Scholars and curators therefore have proposed a wide range of taxonomies that tried firstly to define what is African about this art, and secondly, the range of genres it covers. Diverse attempts to define particular genres of contemporary African art however mirrored the fascination of art scholars and curators for the appropriation of cultural elements assumed "Western" into "African" modes of expression and traditions.

One example is Marshall W. Mount [7] who proposed four categories: first, "survivals of traditional styles", which show continuities in traditional working material and methods such as bronze casting or wood carving; secondly, art inspired by Christian missions; thirdly, souvenir art in the sense of tourist or airport art as defined later by Jules-Rossette; [8] and finally, an emerging art requiring "techniques that were unknown or rare in traditional African art".

In the exhibition catalogue of Africa Explores , curator Susan Vogel distinguished between "traditional art", "new functional art", "urban art", "international art", and "extinct art". In the exhibition Contemporary African Artists: Changing Tradition , the Studio Museum in Harlem tried to take the perspective of the presented artists and distinguished between African artists who refuse outside influences; African artists who adopt modes of Western art; and African artists who fuse both strategies.

A commonality to all these categorizations is their reliance on dichotomies between art and craft, Europe and Africa, urban and rural, and traditional and contemporary.

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These dichotomies tend to consider mutual influences in African and European art as an exception rather than the norm. Even more, they fail to think of African art independent from Europe as its counterpart or "influence", resulting in a frequent reproach of African artists "copycatting" or "mimicking" European achievements of modernism. The exhibition proved to offer a highly complex, historically informed and well-researched presentation. Neither being out of time nor belated, contemporary African art strategically inhabits a third epistemological space by being in time.

In their book, Enwezor and Okeke-Agulu discuss contemporary African art by its approaches and guiding topics rather than trying to define categories on the basis of styles, markets or traditions. Their chapters therefore are designated as "Between postcolonial utopia and postcolonial realism", "Networks of practice" in the globalized field of cultural production, "Politics, culture and critique", "Archive, document, memory", "Abstraction, figuration and subjectivity" and "The body politic: difference, gender, sexuality".

Doing so, they locate contemporary African art within a historical perspective, something that had largely missed in previous discussions. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section is in list format, but may read better as prose. You can help by converting this section , if appropriate. Editing help is available.

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December Graburn , University of California Press, Berkeley, Nettleton and D. Hammond-Tooke, Johannesburg: A. Donker, Banque centrale des etats de l'Afrique de l'ouest. Keelan, Fran Lloyd, London, Reading the Contemporary. Raccolta di saggi e schede di artisti. Margaret Trowell. Robert Goldwater.

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  6. Rolf Italiaander. Institut, Mannheim, Evelyn S. Africa's contemporary art and artists: a review of creative activities in painting, sculpture, ceramics and crafts of over artists working in the modern industrialized societies of some of the countries of sub Saharan Africa , Division of Social Research and Experimentation, Harmon Foundation , New York, Ulli Beier.

    Frank Willet. African Art , London: Thames and Hudson, Marshall Ward Mount. Judith D. Kiure Francis Msangi. Best of Africa - Toronto Eugene Burt. Paulin Hountondji.

    African Art II | African Studies Centre Leiden

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    Introduction by Dele Jegede, pp. Ovuomaroro Gallery production Osa D.

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    Thomas Fillitz. Onobrakpeya by Richard A. Ivan Bargna. Arte Africana , Jaca Book, Milano, Olu Oguibe. Michela Manservisi. Jean-Loup Amselle. L'art de la friche: Essai sur l'art africain contemporain , Paris: Editions Flammarion, L'art africain contemporain , Editions Scala, Hortense Volle. La promotion de l'art africain contemporain et les N. C , Paris: L'Harmattan, Sophie Perryer ed.

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