“BOYCOTT THE HUMAN ZOO!” – A public demonstration opposing the Barbican Centre’s endorsement of Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit B’ in London

Activists publicly demonstrating opposition to Brett Bailey's 'Exhibit B-Human Zoo', outside the Guildhall in central London. Date:  11th September 2014.
Activists publicly demonstrating opposition to Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit B-Human Zoo’, outside the Guildhall in central London. Date: 11th September 2014.

I was pleased to show solidarity with a small but vociferous group of anti-racist arts activists who turned out in central London to call for a boycott of Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit B –  Human Zoo’ installation project today.

Publicity poster for the campaign to boycott the Barbican and Brett Bailey's 'Exhibit B-Human Zoo' installation at the Vaults in London (23-27 Sept. 2014). Source: http://boycotthumanzoouk.com/
Publicity poster for the campaign to boycott the Barbican and Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit B-Human Zoo’ installation at the Vaults in London (23-27 Sept. 2014). Source: http://boycotthumanzoouk.com/

Followers of this blog who’ve already read my earlier post about the Barbican Centre’s endorsement of this controversial ‘live performance’ initiative will know that I am currently one of more than 19,700 signatories (and counting!) to a petition calling for it to be boycotted during its London run, from 23rd – 27th September  2014.

Continue reading “BOYCOTT THE HUMAN ZOO!” – A public demonstration opposing the Barbican Centre’s endorsement of Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit B’ in London

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Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories (Florence – 28-31 May, 2015)

Black PortraituresBlack Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories (Florence, Italy, 28-31 May 2015) is the sixth in a series of highly successful conferences staged by New York University (NYU) in collaboration with Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research.

“This conference will bring together artists and scholars from an assortment of disciplines and practices… and will offer comparative perspectives on the historical and contemporary role played by photography, art, film, literature, and music in referencing the image of the black body in the West. In this context, “Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories,” will explore the impulses, ideas, and techniques undergirding the production of self-representation and desire, and the exchange of the gaze from the 19th century to the present day in fashion, film, art, and the archives.

Continue reading Black Portraitures II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories (Florence – 28-31 May, 2015)

Placing the Museum: Towards Museum Geography (AAG Annual Meeting, Chicago – April 2015)

AAG-Annual-Meeting-2015-PosterAdvance notice and call for papers, re. the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting in Chicago, USA (April 21-25, 2015) 

Geographers are increasingly contributing to understanding the multiple functions museums serve, much like their colleagues in history, anthropology, and museum studies.  In her 2010 article “Museum Geography: Exploring Museums, Collections and Museum Practice in the UK” Hilary Geoghegan writes,

“Museums and collections offer geographers exciting sites and subjects for research and teaching… [and] that it is now time to consider museum geography more closely” (p. 1472).

Continue reading Placing the Museum: Towards Museum Geography (AAG Annual Meeting, Chicago – April 2015)

Kinshasa: a ‘site of dreams’ for contemporary visual artists

“It is a site of dreams, where dreams encounter each other and become a single body. However, on the level of our own experience of that urban environment, once one plunges into the life of the city and participates in it, it inevitably diversifies and becomes multiple.”

– Extract from an interview with Vincent Lombume Kalimasi (February, 2004). Source: Kinshasa: Tales of the Invisible City (2004: 260)

When Congolese writer Vincent Lombume Kalimasi said these words more than a decade ago he was celebrating the creative vibrancy of  city life with specific reference to his place of birth, Kinshasa – a ‘site of dreams’ that has grown in significance over several decades to become one of the most important centres for contemporary visual arts on the African continent, as regularly illustrated in the futuristic cityscapes of Congolese sculptor and installationist Bodys Isek Kingelez.

Body Isek Kingelez , Project for the Kinshasa III e millennium 1997 Wood, paper, cardboard 100 x 332 x 332 cm Courtesy Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris
Body Isek Kingelez , Project for the Kinshasa III e millennium 1997
Wood, paper, cardboard 100 x 332 x 332 cm Courtesy Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris

My awareness and appreciation of Kinshasa’s importance as a hub for creativity and innovation was initially sparked as a result of travelling to Paris in the summer of 2005 to see Simon Njami’s survey exhibition of contemporary African art  – Africa Remix. L’art contemporain d’un continent (Centre Georges Pompidou, 2005) – where I noticed that more than 10% of the  artists displaying  work in Paris at that time had connections (either by birth, family or residence) to the DRC’s capital city.

Photograph of the artist Bodys Isek Kingelez next to one of his architectural models.
Photograph of the Kinois artist Bodys Isek Kingelez, shown next to one of his architectural models.

The most high-profile of the Kinois men and women selected by Njami to present work at the Pompidou that year included the afore-mentioned  Bodys Isek Kingelez (shown left), pop artist Chéri Samba (see here) and his fellow visual satirist Joseph Kinkonda (known internationally as Chéri-Cherin).

Photograph of Kinois video artist and installationist, Michèle Magema. Image courtesy of Africultures (http://www.africultures.com).
Photograph of Kinois video artist and photographer, Michèle Magema. Image courtesy of Africultures (http://www.africultures.com).

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to these established figures, some emerging new talents from a more recent generation of Kinshasa-born contemporary artists were also given an opportunity to make their mark on this global stage – specifically, the conceptual artist Francis Pume (shown below) and the video installationist, photographer and performance artist Michèle Magema (shown right).

Continue reading Kinshasa: a ‘site of dreams’ for contemporary visual artists

Across the Indian Ocean: ‘Imagining a Museum of Intangible Culture’

Professor Françoise Vergès and Dr Shihan de Silva will be speaking at a forthcoming ICS symposium on Wednesday 29th October 2014 (9.30am-6pm) at Senate House (Room 349, 3rd Floor), University of London.

This FREE event – titled, ‘Across the Indian Ocean’ – is being organised by the Race in the Americas (RITA) Group, in partnership with Kavyta K. Raghunandan (University of Leeds, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies [CERS]) and will focus on an exploration of the “politics of the present” across the Indian Ocean region – re. Mauritius, Seychelles, Réunion Island, Comoros and Madagascar.

In the event programme, the title of Françoise Vergès’ presentation is ‘Imagining a Museum of Intangible Culture in the Indian Ocean’, and Dr Shihan De Silva will address colonial history and its legacies throughout the region in a talk on ‘Difference and Inequalities’.

Continue reading Across the Indian Ocean: ‘Imagining a Museum of Intangible Culture’