Contemporary discussions of Nigerian twentieth-century art are located within the postcolonial discourse. The main point of contention is whether to situate Nigerian modernism before or after Independence in 1960, taking into account Euro-African cross-fertilisation during colonialism and in the post-Independence period. The private archive of Ben Enwonwu, an artist of national and international fame during the transition era, whose institutional reception faded with the failure of pan-Africanism in the late 1970s, serves as a provocation for posterity. Enwonwu’s public positioning against colonialism is exceptional in its complexity: canonically as an artist, internationally with an itinerant cultural significance and politically with its contingency on colonialism as well as pan-Africanism. Given the post-humus instability of Ben Enwonwu’s significance, the examination of his handwritten counter-narrative in conjunction with his oeuvre questions the model of a universally applicable modernism. Instead we should assume divergent non-linear modernisms in the further reaching context of coloniality.
This article engages with three films by the Palestinian director Kamal Aljafari: ‘The Roof’ (2006, 61 mins), ‘Port of Memory’ (2009, 62 mins), and ‘Recollection’ (2015, 70 mins). My readings of the films highlight questions of erasure, destruction, elimination and harmful gentrification as practices of Israeli colonial violence on the Palestinian urban space. But if the films document such violence they further explore, I argue, the role of fantasy in facilitating and subverting the re-organisation of the colonised space. The outcome is a rich and poetic cinematic investigation. The director’s hometown of Jaffa is seen from the Israeli-projected images of mastery and control that visually eliminate Palestinians by imposing a fictional reality on the city (what Aljafari has called ‘cinematic occupation’), to the images that Aljafari creates through a subversive citational engagement with these Israeli cinematic fantasies (what Aljafari calls ‘cinematic justice’).
‘ramona’ (Buenos Aires, 2000–2010) was a monthly visual arts publication with a radical editorial policy: anyone can write; everyone will be published. Engulfed by the economic crisis that hit Argentina in 2001, the magazine relied on spontaneous and unpaid contributions from artists, curators, art historians, gallery visitors and art enthusiasts. As a result, in ‘ramona’’s pages the art critic and the reader became interchangeable. In its ten years of existence, the magazine brought to the fore a valuable reconfiguration of the social dynamics embedded in art practice and its reception, dismantling the idea of a ‘connoisseur’ and replacing it with horizontal access. The analysis of ‘ramona’ will be propelled by the idea that its open editorial policy provided an extreme but relevant model for writing histories of art that emanate from a common access to the role of the art reviewer – and that such historical method suits our present time.
This article attempts to track the points where the imaginings of indigeneity emerged from their colonial context in the form of discursive practices or concepts. The argument is that the origins of these imaginings are located in our shared history of colonisation at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century. The main aim of this article is to problematise Western aesthetic discourse and briefly show how contemporary Indigenous art problematises this discourse. This article shows that the mechanism used to assemble these imaginings was configured by an aesthetic of ugliness, particularly of the monstrous. This depiction, constituted by historical processes, established the first discursive rules of the formation of the European conceptualisation of ‘indigeneity’: 1) terror, horror and tragedy; 2) capturing and enslavement; 3) similarity and anthropocentrism; and 4) conquest. These discursive formation processes provide part of the blueprint of the Western imaginings of indigeneity.
The inclusion or exclusion of artists in Egypt’s cultural matrix has always been political, and it demonstrates that the bridging of art and politics constructs modes of analysis that facilitate national transformation, cultural insight and theory building. The artworks of artists Amal Kenawy and Huda Lutfi redefine outdated, superfluous and ignored cultural expressions and meditate on what the future may deliver. Kenawy and Lutfi exhibit creative subversions that attract attention and engage debate on issues of security versus fear, rebellion versus obedience and stagnation versus dynamism. This study examines how Kenawy and Lutfi have committed to, managed and controlled their art production, exhibition and images between the mid-1990s until the removal of Hosni Mubarak from the presidency in 2011.
THIRD TEXT is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group