View of installation at the Johannesburg Art Gallery featuring a Mami Wata mask from West Africa
Art from the African Continent
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Curator and lead author of Resource Book
Celebrating the release of the third and most comprehensive MTN Live Art Resource Book this exhibition, and book, were designed to challenge the Eurocentric ways that Africa and African art are represented in education, literature and popular conversation.
The Resource Book and exhibition sought to challenge the way the concept of ‘Africa' has been constructed. We featured diverse art and material culture from the continent as a point of departure to explore ideas about the continent. Much of the language and thinking used to discuss and label art from Africa is a product of European and colonial ideologies. To avoid repeating these misrepresentations we were strategic in teh terms we did employ. For example the term ‘African’ continent rather than ‘Africa is preferable as it suggests that the continent is not a singular cultural unit but is made up of many diverse cultures. Similarly, words like ‘fetish’ and ‘primitivism’ represent Africa in a particularly degrading way and should be avoided. By recognising the ideological roots of words like these, by challenging popular misconceptions and representing evidence that is more representative of the African experience, we opened up new perspectives on the African continent and its art.
Selected art works and pages from the Resource Book publication were included on the exhibition. These broadly followed the themed chapters of the book and featured different kinds of activities such as the two-page ‘Myths, Mysteries and Misconceptions’ spreads, ‘Fact Files’ on relevant topics, ‘Practical Worksheets’ and ‘Conceptual Worksheets’.
The artworks were drawn primarily from the MTN Art Collection, as well as from the Johannesburg Art Gallery.