Friday, March 27

Reversal of fortune

Why don't we see more art from the African continent in the gallery and museum circuit? It's a place that's been on our political radar for as long as I've been able to read a paper (See Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa and, more recently, Zimbabwe.) Art has made it's way to our Eurocentric exhibition spaces from locations like the Middle East and China, places considered in our consciousness as threatening politically or economically, or both. From what I understand from those native to these countries, there is a pressing urgency to preserve visual culture and respond to political instability and social issues through art.
Expats making work related to diasporic experiences, like Yinka Shonibare, have made a name for themselves. But, after seeing Simon Njami's presentation at UCLA on his experience organizing exhibitions like the Johannesburg Biennial and "Africa Remix," I had to wonder why this work was not something that I ran across more. My introduction to much of this work was through the curatorial practices of Okwui Enwezor for Documenta and, more recently, ICP in New York.
In that vein, the show I'm excited to see during my visit to San Francisco this weekend is the exhibition of the work of William Kentridge at SFMoma. Kentridge's drawings, sculptures, sets, animations and video installations express the complicated position of one who's daily life is part of a tumultuous racial history-in-the-making. Here's a taste of some of his animation.