Annual Report 2001 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

06 Premiering African Art in Venice

Salah M. Hassan, Africana Studies and Research Center/History of Art, and colleague curated a well-reviewed exhibition "Authentic/Ex-centric: Africa In and Out of Africa" at the 49th Venice Biennale (2001) and produced a scholarly companion book, Authentic/Ex-centric: African Conceptualism in Global Contexts. The project emphasized the importance of examining reciprocal influences between Africa and the rest of the world. It highlighted current African art practice through work that broaches the issues of representation, memory, Diaspora, expatriation, and other aspects of the African experience. In one work, Panifice, a South African artist uses the idea of communion or "breaking bread" to address the universality of human experience across divides of language, culture, or race. In another work, Vacation, by a Nigerian-born artist, a family wearing spacesuits made from brightly colored traditional African textiles takes a stroll on the moon. This seems to imply human progress, however, the work suggests that one can embody the paradox of alien/other and colonial/explorer, demonstrating the complexity of power dynamics among groups. The companion book offers essays that present a fresh look at conceptualism from an African standpoint and at issues of cross-cultural and transnational aesthetics.

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© 2002 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University.

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