The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the first episode in our Global Conversations Series: Radical Art Practice in the 21st Century on April 16, 2021 at 12 noon Jamaican time. The panellists will be the talented artists Olu Oguibe, Ibrahima Mahama and Deborah Anzinger and the moderator is curator and educator Petrina Dacres. The discussion will be presented live on our YouTube channel, inclusive of a 30 minute segment for audience participation. A recap of the topic and participant bios follow:
Radical Art Practice in the 21st century
What constitutes radical art practice in the 21st century especially in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and a global pandemic? What new forms and formations of art-making can we envisage today? BLM as a social movement originated in the USA but resonates globally, with ‘Black’ serving as a signifier of multiple alterities. A discussion between boundary-pushing, award-winning artist Olu Oguibe, Ghanaian wunderkind Ibrahim Mahama and the artist and artworld builder, Deborah Anzinger.
Olu Oguibe is a multi-media artist and writer whose work often straddles minimalist formalism and social engagement. His work has been widely exhibited in museum and gallery shows, as well as biennials and triennials. He has also created several public works in many countries. In 2017 his “Strangers and Refugees Monument”, a public sculpture in Kassel, Germany, received the Arnold Bode Preis for documenta14. Oguibe was Professor of Painting at University of Connecticut until 2017 when he resigned to devote his full time to art making.
Ibrahim Mahama is a Ghanian artist. He often works with found objects, transforming them in his practice and giving them new meaning. Mahama is best known for his practice of draping buildings in old jute sacks, which he stitches together with a team of collaborators to create patchwork quilts. Of the practice, Mahama says, “I used jute sacks because for me the history of crisis and failure is absorbed into the material. Their history speaks of how global transactions and capitalist structures work. And because their humbleness contrasts with the monumentality of the buildings they cover.” He grew up in a polygamous family, and once noted that his collaborative nature could be a result of this unique environment.
Born in Tamale, Ghana in 1987, Mahama received his MFA in Painting and Sculpture from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, Ghana in 2013. He lives and works in Tamale. Mahama was the youngest artist featured in the first Ghana Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, where he created a bunker-like space made out of the mesh used to smoke fish and filled it with references to Ghana’s history. Mahama has had multiple solo installations in Accra and Kumasi, as well as solo exhibitions in Dublin, Michigan, and at White Cube in London.
Deborah Anzinger is an artist and founder of New Local Space (NLS), Kingston, Jamaica. Anzinger works in painting, sculpture, video and sound to interrogate and reconfigure aesthetic syntax that relate us to land and gendered and raced bodies. Anzinger’s work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) and has been exhibited at Pérez Art Museum Miami; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, Brooklyn; National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; and National Gallery of Jamaica. Her work has been published in Small Axe Journal (Duke University Press), Caribbean Quarterly (Taylor & Francis), Bomb Magazine, Art Papers, The New Yorker and Artforum. Anzinger was recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a fellowship to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and is a 2020 Soros Arts Fellow.
Petrina Dacres is a Curator and the Head of Art History at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Her teaching and research centers on African Diaspora Art, Caribbean Art, Public Sculpture and Memorials and Memory Studies. Her publications on public sculpture include,“Keeping Alive Before the People’s Eyes This Great Event’: Kingston’s Queen Victoria Monument,” “‘But Bogle a Bold Man’: Vision, History, and Power for a New Jamaica,” and “Monuments and Meaning.”
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