On Art History in Africa

Edited by Koyo Kouoh, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Eva Barois De Caevel, Mika Hayashi Ebbesen

Eva Barois De Caevel, Yaëlle Biro, Hamady Bocoum, Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi, Elizabeth W. Giorgis, Paul Goodwin, Emi Koide, Koyo Kouoh, Peju Layiwola, Dominique Malaquais, Massamba Mbaye, Malick Ndiaye, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, Marie Helene Pereira, Sean O’Toole, Ruth Simbao, Suzana Sousa, and Cédric Vincent.


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The symposium series “Condition Report” hosted by RAW Material Company, center for art, knowledge and society in Dakar, and various partners, started in 2011. “On Art History in Africa” was its third occurrence. This publication gathers communications and discussions from the symposium, as well as essays and dialogues that happened afterwards. It offers a precise overview of the art history being written today in Africa, of its critique, but also of the art history to come.

Contemporary Art, Theory / History / Criticism
African art history continues to be dominated by Western scholars who set the tone for the field. Their cultural frames of reference, which they cast as universal, exert influence on the interpretation of African art, social conditions, and cultural milieu. The knowledge produced in most institutions and academic or independent publishers outside of Africa communicates the extant system in place within those localities. In other words, the audience for such forms of knowledge production is not (necessarily) in Africa. A contradiction is born of this state of affairs; most contemporary Africans do not necessarily recognize themselves in what they are reading, yet they tend to hold this material as truth. To what extent do Africans have a say in the way this knowledge is produced and consumed? What strategies and methodologies exist that counter and rebel against the dominance of a Western academic status quo? These are some of the questions this book examines.

Koyo Kouoh is Cameroonian-born curator who has been serving as Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town since 2019. Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi is a Nigerian artist, art historian, and curator, currently curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Eva Barois De Caevel is an independent curator, writer and researcher. She also works as a curator for RAW Material Company. Mika Hayashi Ebbesen is a queer London based artist, filmmaker and writer, working sonically under the pseudonym MIKATSIU.

338 pages
Paperback, 17x24 cm
French, English
Motto Books, 1st edition 2020
ISBN 9782940672097