Art and Art History 312. Contemporary African Arts
This course will explore contemporary African art and the discourses that frame its production, reception and history. Issues considered include authenticity, tradition, modernity, nationality and African diasporic art. We will also examine the complex relationship of African art to colonialism, European art and its discourses, and the influence of globalization and popular culture. We will focus on several artists or artistic traditions as case studies, including the art scene in Dakar (Senegal); artistic production in post-Apartheid South Africa; and the revival of “traditional” forms through studio art markets. We will also explore the collection and display of contemporary African art. Readings include debates over the nature of representation in the postcolonial world, critiques of the place of African art in the symbolic and monetary economies of the Western metropolis, African feminism as expressed in the arts, and studies of the new contexts of so-called ethnographic objects.
Students are not expected to have prior knowledge of African art, but some background in either Africana studies (theoretical discourses) or art history (historical and stylistic traditions) is recommended. The emphasis in this course will be on honing visual observational skills as well as techniques of theoretical analysis.