Photographies et archives au 16th ACASA Triennal Symposium on African Art –

ACASA_COVER

Voici une sélection des panels spécifiquement consacrés à la photographie et à la question de l’archive qui se déroulent lors du congrès triennal d’ACASA (Arts Council of the African Studies Association), ouvert hier au Brooklyn Museum de New York. Ma co-équipière Érika Nimis y participe avec une communication portant sur le rôle de la mémoire dans les œuvres de quelques artistes algériens contemporains (voir panel # 12.5, le tout dernier de la liste ci- dessous).

Pour avoir accès à l’ensemble des panels et tables-rondes (où d’autres communications passionnantes portant sur ces thématiques y sont disséminées) organisés pendant la manifestation, cliquez ici.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Session 4 (9:15 – 11:00 AM)
4.1 South African Photobooks: A Continuously Changing Narrative. Convener: Michael Godby, University of Cape Town

Originally comprising hand-printed, tipped-in photographs of seemingly arbitrary scenery, the South African photobook soon came to celebrate the colonial achievement in civilization and industry. Around the middle of the twentieth century, photographers, still marginalized by the art world, turned to the photobook as a vehicle for artistic expression on given themes—of landscape, for example—and others, notably Black photographers, used it for expressly political ends. Currently, South African photographers, confident of their position in the art world, use the form routinely as part of their artistic expression. This panel will explore case studies from these three chapters of South African photobook history.

Presenters:

The Royal Edinburgh Album of Cape Photographs, 1867
Michael Godby

The Royal Edinburgh Album of Cape Photographs was first presented to Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, during his second visit to Cape Town and, with permission, published in London in 1868. The photographs were made by the Rev William Curtis and were described at the time as “the most complete set of views of Cape scenery in photography by an adept gifted with an artist eye”. This paper collects what little is known of Rev Curtis and examines the achievements of his amateur “artist eye” in the context of early commercial photographic albums of Cape scenery.

Reissuing the Narrative: David Goldblatt’s On the Mines 1973/2012
Amy Halliday, ArtThrob: Contemporary South African Art

In March 1968, Optima – the magazine of the Anglo American corporation – published ‘The Witwatersrand: A Time and Tailings’, a photo essay by David Goldblatt with text by Nadine Gordimer. The essay would go on to become the first of three sections in Goldblatt’s inaugural photobook, On the Mines (1973). If ‘Tailings’ nostalgically documented the mine dumps, waste water lakes and industrial detritus that gave form to the Witwatersrand of Goldblatt’s childhood, On the Mines also tracked other tales of South Africa structured by the mines: the dangerous subterranean world of shaftsinking, and the deeply unequal relationships played out above the surface, figured through portraits of ‘mining men’. The reissue of On the Mines in 2012 by international publishing house STEIDL, just months after the tragedy at the Lonmin platinum mines, prompts questions of continuity and change in the national narrative around mining and labour relations. By bookending his career to date, this re-issuing – with an “expanded view” in which several images are added, omitted, resequenced, appear in colour, or are otherwise altered – also captures the traces and tailings of Goldblatt’s aesthetic, personal and professional trajectory

A Tale of Two Cities: Luanda in the Photobooks of Jo Ractliffe and Michael MacGarry
Liese van der Watt, University of Johannesburg

This paper will look at the different narratives that emerge from two contemporary photobooks on the same subject, the city of Luanda in Angola. In Jo Ractliffe’s Terreno Occupado (2008), the artist explores an ongoing interest in liminality, transience and notions of absence by examining urban Luanda in a series of contemplative black-and-white photos. Michael MacGarry’s The Republic of Luanda (2011) constructs a seemingly different story of the same city through colour photos of a bustling, if ambivalent urban space. A comparison of these two photo essays reveals the curatorial drive inherent in the mechanism of the photobook.

Blinding the Truth: Mikhael Subotzky’s “Retinal Shift”
Federico Freschi, University of Johannesburg

As winner of the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for 2012, Mikhael Subotzky produced a large-scale project entitled ‘Retinal Shift’. Underlying this project, and the photobook accompanying it, is an interrogation of the role of the documentary photographer as passive recorder, whose subjectivity is ostensibly sacrificed on the altar of objectivity. Ironically, Subotzky was blinded at the moment that his retinas – the title images of the project – were photographed.
This resonated powerfully with the photographer, serving as a reminder of our ‘blindness’ in relation to the photograph: repeated exposure to a seemingly endless parade of images of human suffering and degradation renders us immune to them; the initial shock wears off, as Susan Sontag reminds us, as quickly as pornography’s arousal. In this paper I consider how Subotzky uses the medium of the photobook to points to the fragility of the notion of the photograph as document, and the vulnerability of the meaning of visual ‘evidence’.

Session 5 (11:15 – 1:00 PM)
5.1 African Diasporas/Photography. Convener: Kris Juncker, De Montfort University

The discourse on Africa’s many diasporas, both inside and outside of the continent, is complicated. However, the artists and accounts presented in this panel will reveal how photography offers means to critically engage such movements across geographic boundaries. Taking advantage of problems in the theorization of African diasporic expression as well as issues in theorizing photography, artists creatively offer audience new perspectives on diasporic identity. Photographic representations engage ideas of the diaspora and challenge long-held paradigms of strict regional cultural identification, asking audiences not only to consider the individuals appearing in the photograph, but those not featured in the image.

Presenters:

Contemporary Photography in Southern Africa: Theorizing Formative Realism
Raél Jero Salley, University of Cape Town

In this paper I make two claims: first, analysis of contemporary artworks from South Africa can help understand the social ordering of people’s lives; and second, formative realism may be a useful concept for looking at artworks about any number of things, ranging from material and ideological spaces of the ‘self’ to dominant social realities. My argument is shaped by encounters with distinct artworks by the artists Hasan and Husan Essop, pictures in which political, economic and ideological tensions are both present and productive.

Perceiving the Foreign: Images of African Diasporic Identities by Thandile Zwelibanzi and Ade Adekola
Jessica Williams, University of Maryland, College Park

Looking to two recently created series, this paper explores the ways in which photography has been employed by contemporary African artists to problematize the formation and perception of inter- and intra-continental African diasporic identities. Both artists’ works, I propose, suggest that while we may inhabit globally “imagined worlds” and not simply “imagined communities” these worlds are ultimately formulated from one’s experiences or imaginings of particular localities which are, as Arjun Appadurai has written, “inherently fragile” and constantly being remade. Important to this discussion is the role that the imagination plays in constituting both diasporic public spheres and the identities that legally and illegally populate them.

The Harlem Rooftop of Diasporic Practice: One Photograph, Many Worlds
Emilie Boone, Northwestern University

In an August 1924 photograph the Dahomean activist Kojo Tovalou Houénou appears between the Pan African leader Marcus Garvey and his associate George Marke. Taken by the studio photographer James Van Der Zee for the occasion of the United Negro Improvement Association’s convention, the photograph represents a triangulation of three different diasporic worlds. In this presentation, I consider how we might interpret this photograph, its aesthetic arrangement and the reason and context of its production, as an important tool in understanding the relationship between the construction of Africa, its diaspora and the practice of photography during the early twentieth century.

The Performative Photograph in Conversation with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons with Kristine Juncker, Independent Artist, School of the Museum of Fine Arts

Traversing analysis of the artist’s biography, artwork and theoretical perspectives, this conversation will examine the critical relationships between the camera, the photographic print and Campos-Pon’s performative work. We will discuss Campo-Pon’s early encounters with photography and how, in the United States, she increasingly began to rely upon both performance and photography as primary media. Moreover, we will consider Campos-Pons reactions to contemporary artists who explore similar methodologies. In what ways does the work of Campos-Pons reflect an important Post-modern movement to document links to personal histories as well as shared cultural pasts?

Discussant:
Elisabeth L. Cameron University of California, Santa Cruz

5.6 Contestation, Conflict, and Environmental Issues: Contemporary Art and Photographs on the Niger Delta. Convener: Tobenna Okwuosa, Niger Delta University

Well-known Niger Delta artists—such as Sokari Douglas Camp, George Osodi, and Bright Ugochukwu Eke—along with many students of fine arts and art history in the region’s universities have created work on the problems and crises of oil exploration within the matrix of the postcolonial and neoliberal order.

Presenters:

Emblematics of the Niger Delta: Focus on Students’ Projects/Dissertations
Harrie Bazunu, Delta State University, Abraka

Oil exploration and exploitation activities and the attendant fallouts have created new images/imageries that have become recurring decimals and emblems in Niger Delta Visual discourses. These fallouts, which have created environmental problems in the region, have been given visual problematization by students of visual arts in the region’s tertiary institutions. With a view to finding out the signs, symbols and meanings in the visuals, and the directions to which they may point, this paper adopts object-centered method of art historical study, in-depth interviews/library sources to semiotically assess the students’ perception of the Niger Delta environment through their projects/dissertations.

Art, Politics, and the Environment in Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Port Harcourt Project
Amy Powell, Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston

In 2013, artist and filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa began production on new works about the Niger Delta. From a studio and exhibition space that she is establishing in the former Port Harcourt offices of her father, the late writer and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the artist is becoming increasingly involved with Ogoni communities, researching their pre-colonial cosmologies, dance and performance traditions, and present-day urban subcultures, as well as her father’s poetry and literature. This paper will report on the work in progress and consider its context in socially-engaged contemporary art, the intersection of ecopolitics and contemporary art, and ecocriticism.

Environmental Infraction and the Locusts of the Niger Delta
Timipre Willis Amah, Niger Delta University

The economic value of crude oil and the environmental and human devaluation, which oil prospecting has brought about in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region has resulted in many negative vices and activities by the organized syndicates of armed youths. But it is apparent that their actions are anti-environment and anti-human. This paper focuses on my documentary photographs on the clandestine and illegal acts of refining crude oil in different localities in Bayelsa State. The images emphasize the human impact on our fragile environment as they elucidate our relationship to nature, and further visualize the violence on the ecosystem.

The Burden of Oil and the Neoliberal Order: Contemporary Niger Delta Photographs as Grisly Testimonial
Tobenna Okwuosa, Niger Delta University

For more than 50 years, oil and gas prospecting, extraction, and refining have been going on in the Niger Delta with no significant economic benefits and infrastructural development. The burden and challenges of survival in the Niger Delta have been complicated by the neoliberal economic policy of the Nigerian government. The conditions of oil extraction (with its environmental consequences) and the deregulation of petroleum products have been challenged through peaceful and violent protests. This paper uses photographs by George Osodi, Ed Kashi, and Timipre Willis Amah to construct a grisly narrative of the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.

Discussant:
Frank Ugiomoh, University of Port Harcourt

Friday, March 21, 2014

7.5 Collecting, Archives, and Display in West Africa. Conveners: Charles Gore, SOAS, University of London and David Pratten, Oxford University

“Collecting” is usually embedded in Eurocentric trajectories of display, most notably the museum and gallery. It is imbricated in the deployments of the archive that stores, re-orders and hierarchies in the production of value. This panel will focus on localized practices within West Africa to consider how assemblages and displays are conceptualized and deployed to offer other modes of collecting and archiving to offer alternative paradigms. The panel will focus on West Africa, locally and within the Atlantic and other wider networks, and also address present-day circumstances, including the shift to new media that offer innovative discursive possibilities.

Presenters:

Art, Power and Public: M.D.W. Jeffreys and the Masking Traditions of Old Calabar Province
David Pratten

Sub-Saharan Animation: The Internet as a Living Digital Archive
Paula Callus, Bournemouth University

A Refiguring of African American Artists in West Africa
Noah Jemison with Luke Houston, Independent Artist; SOAS, University of London

Making the Archive: Intertextuality and the Early West African Photographer
Charles Gore

Saturday, March 22, 2013

10.5 Art from the Archive: Archival Art (Part 1 of 2). Convener: Ferdinand de Jong, University of East Anglia

Over the last few decades, contemporary artists have increasingly been inspired by the archive. Often attributed to the publication of Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida, this turn to the archive has a longer history than is often acknowledged. However, in more recent trends to watch the archive, formidable questions are raised about truth and testimony, authority, history, and memory. Especially pertinent in post-conflict societies, such questions about the archive are equally relevant to postcolonial contexts. The first part of this panel presents an occasion to examine some of the questions raised above in the work of individual artists.

Presenters:

The Transcultural Archive of George Adéagbo
Kerstin Schankweiler Freie Univerität

In his site-specific installations Georges Adéagbo (born 1942, Ouidah/Benin) combines countless found objects of culturally diverse provenience, along with handwritten texts and commissioned paintings or sculptures produced by craftsmen in Adéagbo’s hometown of Cotonou. This paper will interpret his artistic practice as working on an alternative, transcultural archive – a kind of “Mnemosyne Atlas” of globalization – in which the ‘mobilisation’ of the objects plays a central role. Adéagbo presents a discursive network of contemporary and historical relationships between Africa and those places where he exhibits, conceptualizing a model of ‘entangled’ histories that his non-hierarchical assemblages seem to transform aesthetically.

Black Box: William Kentridge’s Multi-Directional Archive
Ferdinand de Jong

Commissioned by the Deutsche Bank, Black Box/Chambre noir is an installation the South African artist William Kentridge made to remember the genocide of the Herero people in the German colony of Southwest Africa. Recycling footage of rhino hunting, anthropometric measurements and gold mine ledgers, Black Box presents an archive constituted by the scientific technologies used in the Herero genocide – brought to technological culmination in the Shoah. Drawing on a wide range of archival material, Black Box presents the dark side of our Enlightenment. Set to the music of The Magic Flute, the installation makes us mourn modernity at large.

The Archives of the Future: Revisiting Iconographies of Revolution and Utopia in Contemporary Art Practice
Nadine Siegert, Africa Center of the University of Bayreuth
Aesthetic practice catalyzed revolutions and anticipated a utopian alternative reality within the context of the African independence struggles. In the contemporary art in post-revolutionary societies we find a revisiting of (political) icons, referring to nostalgic and utopian concepts. Such images form the visual archives of the revolution as a body of inter-iconic references. I focus on Angola and Mozambique, analyzing and interpreting images linked to the revolutionary project, questioning how icons are communicated by referring to the revolutionary archive and how these aesthetic processes are linked to the constitution of collective memory and ideas of nation and belonging.

Archive, Art, and Anarchy: Challenging the Praxis of Collecting at Iwalewa-Haus
Ulf Vierke, Africa Center of the University of Bayreuth

Picking up on the 2011 art project not_in_the_title by Sam Hopkins the paper critically analyzes existing orders within the contemporary museum and archive. Starting point is a paradigmatic body of Nollywood horror video tapes at Iwalewahaus. Major concern is not the arbitrary praxis of collecting, based on personal mission or professional area of expertise. Rather, it is the treatment of the archival record after its entry, as well as its subsequent reception that seems to intrigue him. The project challenges the archive by editing new archival objects. A thorough reading of the project reveals shortcomings of archival politics as well as the potential of archival processes.

Discussant:
Elizabeth Harney, University of Toronto

11.5 Art from the Archive: Archival interventions (Part 2 of 2). Convener: Ferdinand de Jong, University of East Anglia

What is especially interesting in the current turn to the archive is that many researcers revisit colonial archives in order to establish their relevance in the present. Such revisiting of the archive is not gratuitous, but displays a serious engagement with the past (as represented by the archive), and the possibility it opens to intervene in that past and invent an alternative history. The archive is revisited to articulate a postcolonial critique and imagine an alternative future. Work within the archive enables visitors to the archive to move back and forwards in time and address perceived problems in the present through a return to the archive.

Presenters:

Going and Coming Back: Redisplaying the Bryan Heseltine Collection
Darren Newbury, University of Brighton

This paper is based on a collection of photographs made in and around Cape Town in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The work was briefly exhibited in South Africa and England in the 1950s before slipping into obscurity, only resurfacing more than fifty years later, in 2009. The paper reflects on the project of returning the photographs to South Africa in a recent exhibition – Going and Coming Back – curated by the author, the ambition of which was to begin the process of reconnecting the photographs to the city in which they were made.

Exposing the Contours of Photographic Archives in Mozambique
Drew Thompson, Bard College

Exposing the contours of photographic archives in Mozambique, Mozambican photographers first published their images in colonial newspapers. After Mozambique’s liberation war, these images appeared in international art collections. Images by Mozambican photographers have become foundational to the claims of power and legitimacy articulated by the government of Mozambique thirty-five years later, but these photographs also risk undoing the very histories they produced. In this paper, I consider the formation of the photographic collections at the National Archives of Mozambique and the Center for the Formation of Photography. Reflecting on these collections’ construction alongside my own experiences working within them, reveal the politics of writing Mozambique’s history.

Sankofa (Go Back and Pick): The Daily Graphic’s Archives and Accra’s Fashionable Elite
Christopher Richards, University of Florida

The title of my presentation invokes the culturally significant Ghanaian proverb “Sankofa” to indicate my own experience with “going back and picking” from one of Accra’s most comprehensive collections of daily and weekly newspapers, the
archives of The Daily Graphic. This paper will explore a series of historical photographs from The Daily Graphic and The Sunday Mirror, with particular attention given to images of attendees at Accra’s annual horse races. My discussion of the photographs will demonstrate the importance of mining The Daily Graphic’s archive to understand the inherently ephemeral and visual nature of Accra’s historical fashion culture.

Congo Far West: Artists in Residence at the Royal Museum for Central Africa
Mathilde Leduc, The Royal Museum for Central Africa

This presentation focuses on some recent exhibitions at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren where African artists have been invited to engage with the archives. Willing to face the colonial archives, a new engagement on the part of the public and archivists requires new ways of engaging the archives. Visual artists, photographers, performers and sculptors have produced an engagement that tells us about the stereotypes that informed the creation of archives. The archives therefore become the host for emergent voices, emotional outbursts about the past or traumatic experiences.

Discussant:
Elizabeth Harney, University of Toronto

12.5 Photography: After the Archival Turn. Convener: Jennifer Bajorek, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU

At a moment when formal academic discourse of “the archive” has begun to seem rather stale—philosophers, historians, artists, and curators have been turning to the archive since the 1980s—the resources of archives for postcolonial narratives of liberation, contestation, and struggles for autonomy and self-determination appear to be limitless. In photography in particular, archival energies show no sign of waning, and the number of scholarly and artistic projects and initiatives that are drawing on the archive to re-assess official histories, contest dominant narratives, and make new claims for alternative histories, hidden pasts, and brighter futures continues to grow. This panel will bring together case studies of photographic archives in Africa to interrogate these new archival energies.

Presenters:

Challenging Ruins: Thoughts on West African Archives via Édouard Glissant
Jennifer Bajorek

Fixated on the Past in the Post-Conflict Present: Photographs in Sierra Leone’s National Archives, Julie Crooks, SOAS, University of London

From Intimacy to History: Algerian Memories in Visual Arts Today
Érika Nimis, Université du Québec à Montréal

‘Artistic research’ on the archive: Case studies from Algiers and Cairo
Kerstin Pinther, Freie Univerität

Discussant:
Erin Haney, George Washington University

Source : le site d’ACASA.


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