Spotlight Series

Spotlight: C&

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we regularly read and love. Wrapping up our week with C&, today we bring you the final selection from editor-in-chief Yvette Mutumba: an excerpt from an interview with artist Kemang Wa Lehulere about his exhibition Bird Song, which at the time was on view at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin. This text was originally published on March 31, 2017.

Kemang Wa Lehulere. Installation view Kemang Wa Lehulere: Bird Song at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, 2017. © Kemang Wa Lehulere, Sophia Lehulere, Gladys Mgudlandlu. Courtesy of STEVENSON Cape Town and Johannesburg. Photo: Mathias Schormann.

Kemang Wa Lehulere. Kemang Wa Lehulere: Bird Song; installation view, Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, 2017. © Kemang Wa Lehulere, Sophia Lehulere, Gladys Mgudlandlu. Courtesy of STEVENSON Cape Town and Johannesburg. Photo: Mathias Schormann.

C&: What do you think of this whole idea revolving around decolonizing knowledge?

Kemang Wa Lehulere: Decolonizing is basically about dismantling this system of power. One piece at a time. I believe the education system is the most important aspect to begin with because it is where people are shaped. At the moment and for a long time the educational system has not produced people that think critically, but rather people who fit in the system. There is a new generation of people acting against this, coming from the Black consciousness movement or Pan-Africanism. There is a resurgence of political philosophy that aims to break down the system, including the education system. Not only is it about changing the curriculum, but also about accessibility to that educational space. This is something I have always been concerned with. For instance, I could not afford to go to university. As a result, I had to do projects here and there in order to get the funds for my studies. And this took away the time I needed to study.

To bring it back to the show here, the materials I worked with are old school desks. I have always been interested in pedagogy. In school I complained to my English teacher because the curriculum was concerned only with English and American perspectives. This same teacher developed a special curriculum outside of the official one for me and a friend of mine. So, while she showed us carefully selected books by writers from African contexts, we would sit and discuss this material during lunchtime. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself where you fit into the normative body of knowledge, then to demand visibility, and at the same time to dismantle symbols of power in how they remain colonial and carry Western White patriarchal elements.

C&: So for this show Bird Song in Berlin, you used deconstructed school desks. What does the idea of installation mean to you? Why did you choose this format, these materials, jazz music, and other media?  

KWL: I always try to search for the materials first. For me it is like a journey. It has been only two years that I have been working with the materials the way I do now. In the beginning it was wood and then the metal components of the desk came in. Aside from that I am currently developing pieces that can be mobile. They would operate as sculptures within performances. In addition, the exhibition catalog includes a pamphlet as a supplement, i.e. a publication in a publication. It is a correspondence with an architect I have been working with. This is going to be the second edition of the pamphlet series. I also had the idea of including some jazz music in the show that a friend of mine, a jazz musician, composed specifically for this project.

Read the full interview here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: C&

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we admire. Today’s interview from C& is with Mozambican artist Euridice Kala: “Art-making is difficult anywhere, and especially so on the African continent. My first instinct is to be an artist and to be as carefree as possible; however, when you are a young Black woman from Africa (excepting perhaps South Africa and Nigeria), it is really, really hard.” This conversation was originally published on May 5, 2016.

Euridice Kala. A Conversation I, Entre-de-Lado, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist and C&.

Euridice Kala. A Conversation I, Entre-de-Lado, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist and C&.

C&: What were the artistic influences that you experienced growing up?

Euridice Kala: My childhood was a training ground for what I do now. Although my mother, Ana Arrone, was not an artist herself, she exposed me to art. She would bring me books to read, musicians to listen to—she was a reference for the tastes I developed in music and for my visual preferences. She would talk about how young people were feeding their thirst for culture, music, and art in the early days of independence in Mozambique. We listened to Bob Marley, Kool and the Gang, [Queen’s] Freddie Mercury, Prince, and many others. She was able to provide me with an entire world to which I would escape whenever the real world became too rough or too stale. And this entry into a trans-cultural space and language has influenced the manner in which I am approaching life. Although she passed away in my late teenage years, she was able to instill an insatiable curiosity in me. She was magic…

C&: Your work Will See You in December…Tomorrow portrays a conversation with your grandfather about his memories of colonial Mozambique. What was that like for you? And what kind of stories do you want to tell through the different media you use—from photography to video to performance?

EK: My relationship with my granddad (Armando Arrone) is one that has remained with me over the years. We’ve always been friends and shared football matches and time in his carpenter’s workshop experimenting with wood, while he would tell stories of colonial Mozambique. I am a proxy war child, born during a period that was very challenging for all Mozambicans. Maputo was crowded by UN workers and the country was on the brink of democracy. I have inherited a city and a country that were formed without considering people like me. Our constitution and laws took a long time to develop—such as the legality around same-sex relationships, which was only revised in 2015; or the rape laws that decriminalize the perpetrator if he marries the victim; or, last but not least, the late developments in family law that were, until very recently, governed by the Catholic church. Outdated laws passed during the colonial era still pervade my experience as a Mozambican living today and give me insight into colonial times. The work Will See You in December…Tomorrow mirrors these connections with our colonial history and explores what has been unconsciously appropriated or adopted into our national constructs.

Continue reading the conversation here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: C&

Continuing our week highlighting the work of C&, today we bring you An Paenhuysen’s interview with French-Guyanese-Danish media artist Tabita Rezaire, who talks about decolonization, health, politics, collaboration, and the West’s discovery of African art. This conversation was originally published on July 5, 2016.

Tabita Rezaire. Portrait from Cunty Party. Courtesy of the Artist and C&.

Tabita Rezaire. Portrait from Cunty Party. Courtesy of the Artist and C&.

An Paenhuysen: You call yourself a “warrior–healer.” Could you tell us a little about the wounds you’re healing with your art?

Tabita Rezaire: Survival hurts, for every conscious being. Yet, for some it’s harder as the society they live in devaluates their existence or consistently persecutes their lives. Internalized and accumulated pains from generational, ancestral, or experienced traumas make one’s ability to navigate the world a struggle. These traumas may manifest in different ways, but I believe they all stem from severe disconnections. We are disconnected from the earth, from each other, from our own selves, and from the universe. A warrior–healer is seeking to restore energetic balance on all those levels. Because fighting alone is consuming and draining, if you don’t have tools to nurture your energies you’ll burn out.

AP: The mind-spirit-body pollution inflicted through White Western dominance is a topic in your work on all levels: from visual language to food. Yet your major focus and tool is the internet. Why?

TR: Well it isn’t, I just get asked about this more. All realms of our realities need to be decolonized. Because it is our health that needs to be politicized. And our health is equally threatened by our diet, the shaming of our cultures, the fetishization of our bodies, the murders of our siblings, and the technologies that we use. I don’t impose a hierarchy on what needs to be dismantled. It is the whole colonial-capitalist-patriarchal-scientific-technological-medical-penal-educational complex that needs to be taken down. For this to happen, we need to reconnect and decolonize on all levels and become response-able. That is a commitment and a long journey: Healing takes time. Healing is hard. Healing hurts. And it is not linear. We’ll collapse again and again, but each time we’ll be able to deal better with what’s to come.

Read the full conversation here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: C&

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some publications that broaden our view of contemporary art, and this week we’re focusing on C&. Today we bring you an interview with Duke University scholar Walter Mignolo, who discusses the concept of decolonial aesthetics. This conversation was originally published on August 7, 2014.

Taus Makhacheva. Delinking, 2011; three color photographs, installation view at Sharjah Biennial 11. Courtesy of the Artist, Laura Bulian Gallery, and Sharjah Art Foundation.

Taus Makhacheva. Delinking, 2011; three color photographs; installation view at Sharjah Biennial 11. Courtesy of the Artist, Laura Bulian Gallery, and Sharjah Art Foundation.

C&: Decolonial aesthetics is a concept you have developed in the process of your reflections and work. How did this come about?

Walter Mignolo: First of all, this one, as any concept of the modernity/coloniality/decoloniality collective project, is a consequence of collective conversations. It was introduced in the conversation by Adolfo Alban Achinte, perhaps toward 2003, when he was still a PhD candidate at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito, Ecuador. It came out of conversations on the colonial matrix of power: What is the place of aesthetics in the colonial matrix? We have been talking about coloniality of knowledge and coloniality of being, political and economic coloniality, or coloniality of religion trapping spirituality, coloniality of gender and sexuality, coloniality of ethnicity (from which racism sprung). But we had not yet touched aesthetics. And the reason was that none of us up to that point were artists or art historians or art critics. But Adolfo was, being an artist and activist from the Colombian Pacific, Afro-Colombian.

It was in the summer of 2009 that the issue exploded. At that point Adolfo was already the assistant to the director of the program, Catherine Walsh. I have been a professor and collaborator of Catherine Walsh since the beginning of the PhD program. Pedro Pablo Gómez, from the School of Fine Arts in Bogotá, was working on his PhD but was also the general editor of a new publication, CALLE 14. Revista de Investigacion en el Campo del Arte (“STREET 14. Journal of Investigation in the Field of Art”). He invited me to write an article for the journal. The article. “Aesthesis Decolonial.” was published in March of 2010. But, while the article was in production (I finished it in the fall of 2009), Pedro Pablo suggested to co-curate an exhibit-cum-workshop with the title “Estéticas Descoloniales” (“Decolonial Aesthetics”). The subtitle became, in the process, “Sentir, Pensar y Hacer en Abya-Yala” (“Sensing, Thinking, and Doing in Abya Yala”). We emphasized “sensing, thinking, and doing,” breaking away from the European 18th-century distinction and hierarchy between “knowing, rationality” and “sensing, emotions.” Meanwhile, Adolfo was in Argentina participating in a workshop organized by Zulma Palermo, in Salta, a member of the collective. Zulma was also working with some of her colleagues and students on the question of an aesthetics/aesthesis.

What is crucial to keep in mind is that “coloniality” and all the concepts we have introduced since then are concepts whose point of origination is not in Europe but in “the Third World.” That means that all these concepts emerge from the experience of coloniality in the Americas. Entangled with modernity to be sure, but no longer “applying” European-born categories to “understand” colonial legacies. On the contrary, we have converted Europe into a domain of analysis rather than a provider of “cultural and epistemic resources.”

Continue reading the interview here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: C&

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we regularly read and love. We’re spending this week with C&, “a dynamic space for the reflection on and linking together of ideas, discourse, and information on contemporary art practice from diverse African perspectives.” Today’s selection is an interview between curator Okwui Enwezor and collector Artur Walther, who discuss the past and future of African photography. This conversation was originally published on May 4, 2017.

Zina Saro-Wiwa. The Invisible Man, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and C&.

Zina Saro-Wiwa. The Invisible Man, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and C&.

Artur Walther: We have known each other for over fifteen years. You have a long history as a curator, a writer, a scholar, and a teacher. You have made significant contributions to the study of modern and contemporary African art—and African photography and video art in particular. How do you conceptualize your own personal trajectory in relation to the development of these fields?

Okwui Enwezor: Often histories converge, intertwine, diverge, and move in different directions. The development of contemporary art and contemporary African art—and photography and video specifically—has similarly moved in a non-chronological, non-linear fashion. As with any field of study, new ideas emerge and new research illuminates gaps in our information, and provoke new readings, considerations, and revisions. All of this is part and parcel of why one remains engaged and interested in a set 
of ideas, as well as the underlying principles around which these ideas are formed.

Walther: How did you begin in the field? When would you say the critical mass started developing?

Enwezor: Well, let’s think about it this way—about twenty-five years ago, if one were to pursue a frame for African photography, you would have found very little that specifically relates to photography as an autonomous practice. Photography in relation to Africa was oftentimes assigned to the terrain of the ethnography, as documents providing secondary information to more primary information observed in the field. Photography was seen to be an aid to the art, not particularly a part of practice. What I believe, without making any claims of who did it first, is that in the 1990s, a generation of curators, writers, and thinkers who were Africans—and I want to underscore this—made a bid to shift completely away from this ethnographic lens, and its spotlight. We found that the way that this lens thought of Africa was completely at odds with the content.

Read the complete interview here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Contemptorary

Wrapping up our week with contemptorary, today we bring you Jared Sexton’s “critical overview of the conversations surrounding the 2017 Whitney Biennial.” Co-founders Eunsong Kim and Gelare Khoshgozaran note: “In ‘The Rage: Some Closing Comments on Open Casket,’ Sexton interrogates the complicated psycho-political motivations driving the often polarizing debate concerning artists and their objects, and offers questions that refuse to simplify or foreclose this difficult discourse.” This essay was originally published on May 21, 2017.

Image courtesy of Contemptorary.

Image courtesy of Contemptorary.

Emmett Till is dead. I don’t know why he can’t just stay dead. – Roy Bryant

This is what our dying looks like. – Jericho Brown

What can one say, in response to Dana Schutz’s Open Casket? To say even this, out loud, would sound, without further inquiry, like a reference to a funeral service, a wake, or a viewing. To say this loudly, while out and about, before the uninitiated or uninformed, would sound like a question about a eulogy for the artist. No color, no texture, no context, no points or lines or planes in the medium of the vast space-time continuum. What was the cause? They would ask that, among other things, because they would care about all of the above. They would care even if they only overheard the opening question: How to speak well of the dead?

Emmett Till, a fourteen-year old black boy from Chicago, was abducted, tortured, and killed in Money, Mississippi, on August 28, 1955, by two local White men. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam (and perhaps others) murdered and mutilated him and attempted to disappear his body in the Tallahatchie River. The violence done to him was not unique, but its meaning and significance, its symbolic and material force, may be uniquely obscure. Till has been the subject of voluminous literary and artistic output among African Americans over the last half-century or so, much as an accompaniment to the Black freedom movement that Till’s martyrdom, as it came to be known, would help catalyze.

Read the full review here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Contemptorary

This week we’re highlighting the work of our friends at contemptorary, and today Gelare Khoshgozaran’s “Dear Colleagues: Dead or Alive” takes up the arts community, drawing necessary parallels between art and political movements. How have we spoken to each other? How will we continue speaking to each other? This essay was originally published on February 28, 2017.

Image courtesy of Contemptorary.

Image courtesy of Contemptorary.

1.

Despite my disdain for predictability and repetitiveness, I have found myself starting all correspondences with friends and loved ones with the same greeting:

I hope you are surrounded with lots of love and support amidst fascism!

Although I am aware that no amount of love or support may protect one from fascism, I find that starting in this way sets the tone for an acknowledgement of the climate where, as a friend once said, “how are you?” is no longer pertinent.

I wish you the same here as well, although I don’t believe some of you, some of us, are exempt from having contributed to the creation of either this regime or the desire for it. I have previously spent long periods of time in limbos of visa and immigration processes, waiting for decisions to be made for me. This one, though, doesn’t feel any more comfortable than the many I experienced to gain the “alien” status I was granted in this country.

Continue reading the essay here.

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