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Announcement
September 8, 2022

Symposium: The Question of "Africanness" and the Expanded Field of Sculpture (part one)

Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA)

Johan Thom, Fallen - Monument for throwing over Waterloo or Blackfriars Bridge in London, 2012. Courtesy the artist.

Please join us on September 24, 2022 at 11am EDT / 5pm SAST. Register in advance for this webinar here.

Featuring presentations by Prof. Olu Oguibe (USA) and Dr. Johan Thom (South Africa). Moderated by Carolyn Jean Martin (USA).

For this webinar Prof. Olu Oguibe (artist and Research Fellow, University of Pretoria) and Dr Johan Thom (artist and Coordinator Fine Art and Postgraduate Studies in Fine Art, University of Pretoria) explore the question of "Africanness" in relation to an expanded definition of sculpture. This expanded definition of sculpture is understood both formally, as part of the contemporary practice of installation for example, and in a performative material sense. The artwork is viewed as a dynamic, material site where meanings momentarily (re)converge through the force of changing social relationships and values. However the artwork remains an active component in the production of any such meaning, influencing and shaping the act of interpretation through its own material form. The question of "Africanness" as signifier of identity has long plagued the world leading to biased perceptions of artworks produced by black artists, the African Diaspora and those who work from within Africa, regardless of the colour of their skin.

Oguibe and Thom will present recent examples of their artistic practice that challenge fixed definitions of identity, sculpture and the very politics of power upon which the world of art and broader society remain pivoted as exclusionary, biased spaces. These include Sex work is honest work (2021), Monument for Strangers and Refugees (2017) both by Oguibe and Autoportrait (2022–ongoing) a series of recent performance lectures and artworks by Thom.

Register in advance for this webinar.

Olu Oguibe is an artist, author and curator and a seminal figure in contemporary art with outputs that include participation in international exhibitions such as the Venice, Johannesburg and Havana biennials, Documenta in Kassel, Sonsbeek, and numerous others; curating major national and international exhibitions and projects; and publishing key art history and theory texts (such as the monograph, Uzo Egonu: An African Artist in the West, 1995; The Culture Game, 2004; and the edited volume, Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace, 2000 [with Okwui Enwezor]).

Johan Thom is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the Department of Visual Art, University of Pretoria. Thom works across a variety of media. His works have been included in group exhibitions at the Venice Biennale (2003), the Canary Islands Biennale (2006), and at the Palazzo delle Papesse (2008) among others. He has participated in conferences and workshops at the University of Pretoria, Documenta 13, the University of Cambridge, GradCam in Dublin, the Finnish Academy of Fine Art, the Slade School of Fine Art and the University of Bayreuth among others.

Carolyn Jean Martin is a writer, educator, and artist born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute where she received an MA in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art and an MFA in painting, and is currently a PhD candidate at IDSVA. Her writing practice interrogates the impact of philosophy and aesthetic traditions on the construction of race and identity, with an emphasis on articulations of Blackness in the Western visual field.

Register in advance for this webinar here.

This webinar is presented and hosted by:
The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts in the United States (IDSVA), The African Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of the Witwatersrand (ACSUS-Wits), The African Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of Pretoria (ACSUS-UP), The Villa-Legodi Centre for Sculpture at the NIROX Sculpture Park.

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