Institute of African Studies - Columbia University

Biennale Cultures in Africa

Event Details

Biennale Cultures in Africa
March 4, 2016 - 2:00pm to 6:15pm
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Biennales are part of a global network that produces and disseminates contemporary art, as well as a platform for grappling with such issues as politics, race, identity, globalization, and postcolonialism. Since 1985, various African constituencies have organized biennales as a means to participate in the world dialogue on contemporary art and to nourish local imaginaries. The present symposium takes the 4th Biennale in Lubumbashi (Congo-Kinshasa) as a point of departure to explore “biennale cultures” from the original perspective of a group of artists who have developed an alternative platform to engage and re-author their postcolonial history. Why have biennales found so much more traction in the French-speakingcountries? And what is their impact on global artistic practice? As Terry Smith asks, “Who gets to say what counts as contemporary art?”

∙ Free and open to the public—no registration required ∙

2:10—Toma Muteba Luntumbue (Artist/Artistic director, 4th edition of the Biennale Lubumbashi) in conversation with Sandrine Colard (Columbia University)

3:00—Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi (Co-Curator, 11th edition of Dak’Art Biennale; Curator of African Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College): “Dak’Art Biennale: Cultural Pan-Africanism in the Age of Neoliberal Globalization of the Art World”

3:30—Maureen Murphy (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): "Inventing the World: The 2nd Benin Biennale, 2012"

4:00—Coffee Break

4:30—Z. S. Strother (Riggio Professor of African Art, Columbia University): “Soft Power: The French Politics of Contemporary African Art”

5:00—Kendell Geers (Artist/Advisory Committee, Johannesburg Biennales)

5:30—Chika Okeke-Agulu (Princeton University) will lead a broader discussion on the nature and significance of “biennale cultures” in Africa


Presented by the Institute of African Studies with the generous support of:
Labex CAP
Alliance Program
Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University
FACE-Partner University Fund
Department of Art History, Barnard College

Photo: Meschac Gaba, Bibliothèque roulante, performance, Cotonou, 8 novembre 2012 (Credit: Cozzolino Franscesca)