Join the 10th and final session in the When We See Us Webinar Series titled Refusing the Gaze: Seeing & Authoring Ourselves, a culmination of an evocative discursive programming series inspired by the landmark survey exhibition, When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting. The exhibition was on at Zeitz MOCAA until 3 September 2023. In 2024, the exhibition will travel to Kunstmuseum Basel and a further European and North American tour is currently in discussion. To watch previous episodes, please click here.
In this session, we engage Cameroonian historian, political theorist, and public intellectual, Achille Mbembe’s question: What ways of imagining identity are at work today and what social practices do they produce? In his significant essay African Modes of Self-Writing (2002) Mbembe, identifies one of two main impulses that writers from Africa and the diaspora employ in response to Western perceptions and formulations of the continent. What he terms ‘Afro-radicalism’ is rooted in Marxism and nationalism ideologies that center Africa as being in a perpetual state of oppression and in need of liberation through socialism and revolution. Mbembe sees ‘Nativism’ as the alternative approach.
As such, it is based on Mbembe’s critique of the perpetuation of Africa as the continent of Black people, (conceding the possibility of multiple descents instead), that we cue the speakers in this session to reflect on, as we close this webinar series. Afterall, one of the many themes we explored was the idea of what it means to be African – both within the continent and its vast diaspora. How does Blackness figure in how we author ourselves in relation to Africa?
The very premise of the When We See Us exhibition is itself a celebration of a century of Black figuration by artists of African descent. It is an embrace of the very hybridity that diasporic scholars such as Stuart Hall, noted as the deepest concern of the age in which we currently live. As Hall put, it is ‘at the end of the innocent nation of the essential black subject.’
Conceived by Zeitz MOCAA in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the When We See Us webinar series is part of a larger project that comprises a major exhibition of the same name as well as an extensive publication. When We See Us will attempt to unveil the deeper historic contexts and networks of a complex and underrepresented genealogy that stems from African and Black modernities and spans several generations from the early 20th century to the present. To watch previous episodes, please click here.
Zeitz MOCAA’s curatorial and exhibition programming is generously supported by Gucci.
Date & Time:
Tuesday, 26 September 2023
6.30 PM SAST
Cost: The series is free and takes place via Zoom. No registration is required.
Meet the Speakers:
Raphael Chikukwa is the Executive Director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Born in Zimbabwe, Chikukwa holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Culture Management from the University of the Witwatersrand Business School and an MA in Curating Contemporary Design from Kingston University, which he attained as a Chevening Scholar. Chikukwa is a Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)/ International Curatorial Institute Centre for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) 2021 Fellow.
Chikukwa joined the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 2010 as its Chief Curator and is now the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Before joining the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Chikukwa worked for over ten years as an independent curator. Raphael Chikukwa is the founding Curator of the Pavilion of Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale, starting from the 54th, up to the 58th Edition. He is committed to a multitude of Committees, among them, High Line Plinth in New York 2020, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), the Delfina Foundation London UK, the Future Generation Art Prize, and served as juror for the Dakar Biennale in 2018.
Chikukwa has been on various international panels that includes, Art Basel Hong Kong Conversations in 2019, Art Basel Miami USA 2008, and the Joburg Art Fair. He has contributed to a number of Publications that include, a newly published African Art Reframed: Reflections and Dialogue on
Museum Culture by University of Illinois Press USA, Mawonero/ Umbono: Insights in Zimbabwean Contemporary Art, Zimbabwe Pavilion Catalogues (Seeing Ourselves 2011, Dudziro 2013, Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu 2015, Deconstructing Boundaries 2017 and Soko Risina Musoro – A Tale Without a Head 2019) Kabbo Ka Muwala: Migration and Mobility Exhibition 2016 etc. His qualifications and international experience earned his position at the national institution, which he hopes to change the visual arts landscape of Zimbabwe.
The 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in 1997 provided an impetus to Raphael Chikukwa’s curatorial career after working as a volunteer guide for the Biennale under the watchful eye of the late Okwui Enwezor. He later moved back to his home country Zimbabwe as a process of relocation to his motherland. Some of the major exhibitions he curated include HIFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts) 2000 up to 2004, Lime Transmission Commonwealth Exhibition in Manchester, 2004 Visions of Zimbabwe at the Manchester City Art Gallery and African Heroes in 2006 at the Imperial War Museum North. Chikukwa is a founding Staff member of the PUMA funded Creative Africa Network as an editor and advisor of the project from 2008 – 2009.
Sean Jacobs holds a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of London and an M.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University. He is an Associate Professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York City, and Publisher of Africa Is a Country, which he founded in 2009.
Africa Is a Country launched the careers of several young African and diaspora writers, scholars, and artists. It features online commentary, original writing, media criticism, videos, audio, and photography, becoming one of the leading intellectual voices in the African online media sphere. The writer Teju Cole described it as “basically the inside of my head.” Jacobs’ book “Media in Postapartheid South Africa: Postcolonial politics in the age of globalization “ was published in 2019 by Indiana University Press and Wits University Press.
Renée Akitelek Mboya
Renée Akitelek Mboya is a writer, curator and filmmaker. Her custom is one that relies on biography and storytelling as a form of research and production. Renée is presently preoccupied with looking and speaking about images and the ways in which they are produced but especially how they have come to play a critical role as evidence of white paranoia, and as aesthetic idioms of racial violence.
Renée works between Kigali and Nairobi and is a collaborative editor with the Wali Chafu Collective.