Conceived by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Africa « Zeitz MOCAA » in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town, the « When We See Us » webinar series is a 14-section online digressive program that precedes a major eponymous exhibition, scheduled to open at Zeitz MOCAA in November 2022.
The exhibition and accompanying programming aim to disclose the contexts and organizations of the complex and underrepresented creative lineages emerging from African and Black modernities and spanning the mid-20th century to the present.
The title of the exhibition and webinar series is prompted by the 2019 American performance series, When They See Us, coordinated by African American director Ava DuVernay. The shift from “they” to “we” accounts for an argumentative shift that brings the discussion together within a differential point of view of self-composition as divined by Cameroonian author, historian and political researcher Achille Mbembe.
Metaphorical artworks by artists from Black Africa or of African descent have taken on new importance in the field of contemporary art over the past decade. The webinar series plans to combine imaginative practices from the mid-twentieth century with those of today by bringing together figurative pioneers from the continent and its thriving diaspora to address themes related to Black subjectivity and representation in the world, beginning with creation.
The discursive program and exhibition are coordinated by Koyo Kouoh, head and senior curator of Zeitz MOCAA, and assistant curators Tandazani Dhlakama and Thato Mogotsi. The webinar series is free and will run through Zoom on select Tuesdays from March 29 through December 6, 2022. No registration is required.
Speakers will be announced prior to each session, which will cover a variety of topics :
- March 29, 2022: The Poetics of Black Figuration
- April 12, 2022: Defining the « We » & the « Us ».
- May 10, 2022: African Modernists: Pioneers of Art Pedagogies & Modalities.
- May 31, 2022: A Century of Black Figuration as Representation of Self.
- June 14, 2022: Complicating Black Renaissance: A Continuum of Black Art Histories.
- July 12, 2022: Black is Beautiful: The Pan-African & Afropolitan impulse in Contemporary Art.
- July 26, 2022: Creolization and Syncretism: To Whom do « We » Belong?
- August 16, 2022: « Nobody was dreaming about me » : A Black Queering of the Canon (… after A. Lorde)
- September 6, 2022: « No Black Woman Can Write Too Much » (… after b. hooks)
- September 27, 2022: A Global Hierarchy of Blackness: Complexities, Contradictions & Contestations
- October 18, 2022: Refusing the Gaze: Seeing & Authoring Ourselves
- November 8, 2022: Witness, Sitter, or Storyteller: A Politic of Portraiture
- November 29, 2022: Fabulation: Navigating the tension between Image & Imaginaries
- December 6, 2022: Homecoming: Patronage as Placemaking for Black & African diasporic Narratives