Okwui Enwezor‘s last exhibition « Black Grief and White Grievance » at New York’s New Museum, closed on June 6, 2021.

Designed to denounce American politics and support the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests against violence against blacks, this exhibition remains an expression of black outrage at white grievance.

Okwui Enwezor wanted the exhibition to open at the same time as the 2020 presidential elections in the United States. Remaining in this logic, some texts return to the American elections of 2016 at the Gettysburg memorial where, the former American president Donald Trump made a call. The evocation of this battle site recalls the martyrs who fell defending the freedom of blacks and their associates. Commissioner Okwui Enwezor highlights the influences of this painful past in the speeches of the Trump campaign. Drawing on this, the exhibition lays out the atrocities of white preeminence and black resilience to educate about this contemporary era.

The exhibition opens with Garrett Bradley‘s black and white video scenes, a monumental installation by Tiona NekkiaMc Clodd, followed by Terry’s Ars series of prints.

(Front) Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s, THE FULL SEVERITY OF COMPASSION, 2019. (Back) Garrett Bradley, Alone, 2017 (still). Single-channel 35mm film transferred to video, sound, black-and-white; 13 min. “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” 2021. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni
(Front) Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s, THE FULL SEVERITY OF COMPASSION, 2019. (Back) Garrett Bradley, Alone, 2017 (still). Single-channel 35mm film transferred to video, sound, black-and-white; 13 min. “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” 2021. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni

« Black Grief and White Grievance » reveals lived inhuman situations. From one fact to another, the films and paintings presented in this exhibition express the pain and bitterness that characterize the daily lives of black people. The issue of social materialism, the resurgence of anti-black racism and police violence are also evoked in this exhibition.

As if to overwhelm the melancholy of Black people, the death of curator Enwezor delayed the exhibition and passed its management to his collaborators including Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon and Mark Nash who all attempt to remain true to his vision.

Africa in mourning: Okwui Enwezor, the curator, has passed away.

Okwui Enwezor
Okwui Enwezor

Dying on March 15, 2021 from cancer, Okwui Enwezor joined his compatriot Bisi Silva who died about a month before.

Originally from Calabar, Okwui Enwezor moved to New York in 1982 and began writing poetry and art criticism before starting his own exhibitions in the 1990s.

Founder of the art magazine Nka: « Journal of Contemporary African Art », he organized in 1996 « African Photgraphers ». After perfecting his work and gaining notoriety, his career was marked by curating exhibitions in Africa and around the world. This is the case of the Johannesburg Biennial in South Africa in 1996, Dokumenta 11 in Kassel in 2002, Gwangju Biennial in South Korea in 2008, Triennale Intense proximité at the Palais de Tokyo in 2012.

In Germany, as artistic director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich since 2011, the failure of his health forced him to leave this institution last year.

As curator of the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, which focused on the theme « All the world’s future », Okwui Enwezor opened this edition to contemporary African artists, like Olabisi Obafunke Silva, who died on February 12, 2021 at 56 years. Committed to the influence of contemporary art in his country, the latter became the founder and artistic director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) in Lagos opened in 2007. She is abroad for her various roles as curator or associate curator of several cultural and artistic events including: « The progress of Love » in the United States and Nigeria in 2012-2013, « J.D.’OkhaiOjeikere : Moments of Beauty » in Finland in 2011, « Praxis : Art in Times of Uncertainty » in Greece in 2009, and many others.

Leading the revival of the Rencontres de Bamako in 2015, she displays her ambition to prove that the powerful weapons of culture are enough to fight extremism. At this meeting, the artist reveals the work of photographer J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, through his exhibition and the presentation of the book dedicated to the valorization of the work of his compatriot.

A lire aussi :  « Signares », an exhibition by Fabrice Monteiro at the Galerie Magnin-A in Paris until July 31, 2021

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