Chika Okeke-Agulu and Okwui Enwezor: Contemporary African Art Since 1980

Okeke-Agulu, Contemporary African Art

Contemporary African Art Since 1980

Damiani, 2009

Contemporary African Art Since 1980 is the first major survey of the work of contemporary African artists from diverse situations, locations, and generations who work either in or outside of Africa, but whose practices engage and occupy the social and cultural complexities of the continent since the past 30 years. Its frame of analysis is absorbed with historical transitions: from the end of the postcolonial utopias of the sixties during the 1980s to the geopolitical, economic, technological, and cultural shifts incited by globalization.

The book is both narrower in focus in the periods it reflects on and specific in the ground it covers. It begins by addressing the tumultuous landscape of contemporary Africa, examining landmarks and narratives, exploring divergent systems of representation, and interrogating the ways artists have responded to change and have incorporated new aesthetic principles and artistic concepts, images and imaginaries to deal with such changes. Organized in chronological order, the book covers all major artistic mediums: painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, installation, drawing, collage. It also covers aesthetic forms and genres, from conceptual to formalist, abstract to figurative practices. Moving between discursive and theoretical registers, the principal questions the book analyzes are: what and when is contemporary African art? Who might be included in the framing of such a conceptual identity? It also addresses the question of globalization and contemporary African art.

Contemporary African Art Since 1980 examines a range of ideas, concepts, and issues that have shaped the work and practice of African artists within an international and global framework. It traces the shifts from earlier modernist strategies of the sixties and seventies after the period of decolonization, and the rise of pan-African nationalism, to the postcolonial representations of critique and satire that evolved from the 1980s, to the postmodernist irony of the 1990s, and to the globalist strategies of the 21st century. The book also employs sidebars to provide brief and incisive accounts of and commentaries on important contemporary political, economic, and cultural events, and on exhibitions, biennales, workshops, artist groups, and more. Rather than a comprehensive survey, this heavily illustrated volume presents examples of ambitious and important work by more than 160 African artists during the last thirty years.

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