Contemporary Art and African Perspectives
Discussion with Julia Grosse, Yvette Mutumba, Julia Voss
October 24th, 2014
Moderation: Beate Söntgen
What is »contemporary African art«? As the philosopher Peter Osborne points out in »Anywhere Or Not At All« (2013), the problem lies in the concept of the contemporary, which already contains a projection that obstructs the view on existing cultural, territorial and social borders. Therefore, a term such as »contemporary African art« – which is mainly used as a label anyway – bears the risk of one-dimensionally reducing and homogenizing the complex and diverse cultural production on the continent and in the diaspora, which the Western art field is presently very interested in, to »Art from Africa«.
In its features, interviews and essays, the online art magazine Contemporary And (C&), which was founded a year ago, seeks to convey that the term »African art« makes just as little sense as »European« or »Chinese art«. For this reason, »Art from Africa« is out of the question as a subtitle of the C& magazine; »Art from African Perspectives« would instead suggest itself. Can an internet magazine overcome hierarchies and categories of identity in the way they are not only shaped by the market but – despite all postcolonial critique of the representation of »African art« – also produced by exhibitions? One theme of the discussion will be the current phenomenon of the »African Art Boom«.
At the Kunstraum, the magazine’s founders, Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba, and Julia Voss will discuss the current implications of these classifications and concepts, as well as the potential lying in new perspectives that go beyond fixed geographical localizations, both globally and on the African continent.
Julia Grosse is an art historian, journalist and co-initiator and editor-in-chief of Contemporary And (C&). Dr. Yvette Mutumba received her doctorate in art history on the theme of »(Re)Presentations, Receptions, Expectations: Contemporary Art from Africa and the Diaspora in the German Context, 1960s – 2011«. She is co-initiator of Contemporary And (C&) and curator at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main. Dr. Julia Voss wrote her dissertation on »Darwin’s Pictures. Views of Evolutionary Theory, 1837-1874«. She is an art critic and Executive Editor of the visual arts section of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Prof. Dr. Beate Söntgen holds the chair of Art History at the Faculty of Humanties and Social Sciences of the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.