In 2012, freelance journalist Lara Pawson met with Tate Modern Director Chris Dercon. During the course of the interview, Dercon discussed the Tate’s recent acquisitions in African Art alongside a series of exhibitions held in Britain, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. In what follows, Dercon addresses the problem of canonification, the politics of location and reading the Tate as a “brand”. As the exhibiting of art within Africa becomes increasingly privatised, what are the implications for its accessibility and sustainability across local and global arenas?
Chris Dercon, Tate Modern director, in a market in Lubumbashi, DRC. Photo credited - Sammy Baloji (2012).
The following extract is from a lecture given by Professor Arjun Appadurai at the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, Johannesburg 2013. Drawing on the theoretical orientations of his recent book The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition (2013), Appadurai evokes the logic of the derivative in order to rethink the possibilities and utilities of debt.
Drawing on mathematical theories of the Moebius strip, Filip De Boeck unravels the complex weaving and knotting together of forms of sociality and survival in urban Congo. Inhabiting the urban, writes De Boeck, requires strategies of amalgamation that resist being mapped linearly.
Showing kata as part of a Shiinji divination basket. Photo by Filip De Boeck
In what follows, Josh Comaroff and Ong Ker-Shing critique the disavowal of ‘form’ in architectural practice by tracing moments in which failures in form—what they describe as “poor form” – may work as indicators of the historical conditions under which they were produced.
Abandoned room at second storey, Bonn. Photo: unknown.
Radical Withdrawal: Necropolitics, Capitalismo Gore, and other Kinds of Life
Marko Stamenkovic considers “economic suicide” as an indicator of the necropolitics that is the consequence of neo-liberal capitalism. Theorising crises of subjectivity attending the ongoing European recession, he argues that there are opportunities for forging the Self against hegemonic structures of power and governance.
André Catalão, Falling Lights (2012). Acrylic on canvas, 30x20cm. Courtesy the artist.
Rosalind Morris, Antjie Krog, Jacob Dlamini, Njabulo Ndebele, Yvette Christiansë and Hlonipha Mokoena
Race continues to dominate the South African imaginary, and in the following discussion held at Stellenbosch University in mid-2011, a panel of scholars convened by Rosalind Morris and Antjie Krog brought their personal experiences to bear on questions of identity formation and racial inclusiveness. Tracing historical and social configurations of cohesion and discrepancy, the panel suggests the possibilities of intimacy as a means of disrupting our binarised racial vocabularies.
Refugees from Zimbabwe given shelter in the Central Methodist Church on Pritchard Street in the city. 22 March 2009. Photo: David Goldblatt
Drawing upon the conversations animating CODESRIA’s Africa N’Ko: Africa in the World: Debating the Colonial Library conference held in Dakar in January, Kelly Gillespie suggests that the possibilities for subverting and re-imagining the colonial archive lie in cultural production, particularly art. How, she asks, might African artists appropriate archival tropes in ways that insist upon its dialectial formation and African constituency?
Nomusa Makhubu. Omama Bencelisa (Mothers breastfeeding). Digital print on Fabriano, 100x70cm, Edition/5, 2007. Courtesy: The Photographers Gallery za
With the apparent revival and reconfiguration of photography and its means of distribution, this second number of the Salon’s section The Zone presents different projects in contemporary documentary photography that unsettle prevailing understandings within the western mainstream. Sharing interests in long term projects, the so-called Global south, and more generally what one could define as an intellectual approach to the possibilities of photography, the works showcased here engage critically with the traces of photojournalism, documentary topics and traditions, ethnography, and the role of a reflexive stance that goes beyond the individual.
Danny Hoffman continues to pursue the limits of the essay form, combining text and images as a critical form of intervention. In this case the relationships between architecture, photography (aesthetics) and revolution are at the center of his new work on the lives of an old governmental building in Monrovia
Relying on the magical and absorbing qualities of ritual, Candace Feit presents a selection of her most recent work on the Hijras in India where she critically engages the politics of gender and religious exoticism through the possibilities of the aesthetic.
Jagada Guru, a kothi from Devanapattinam, prepares to play the goddess Amman in the Mayanakollai festival, March 2013.
Francois “Coco“ Laso takes us to the Amazon, but defying the traditional ethnographic representation of this other, he focuses on the abstract banality of this setting in order to highlight the poetic imaginary of the everyday in the Amazonian rainforest.