Moments of Artistic Articulation in African Cities: Between Politics and Imagination
Panel at the ACASA Triennial (Arts Council of the African Studies Association)
New York, March 19-22, 2014
Panel Convener: Dr. des. Fiona Siegenthaler (University of Basel)
In recent years, African cities have increasingly been the place of socially and politically interested art practices that address audiences beyond the art world while adopting media and methods widely accepted in international art discourse. Often, these practices are event-like, performative, and processual rather than object-based (even if they involve images and objects), and they relate to current political topics and social problems. Artists working in this way usually understand their art practice as politically and socially informed. They aim at social change and exchange, often in protest against political authorities and social realities.
Such events, performances, and interventions engage with fragmented or multiple audiences. Mostly, the artists go ‘to the streets’, trying to involve parts of the populace living and working in the neighborhood, but they also target (often indirectly) the authorities in power. As artistic expression, these articulations often make use of the aesthetics and rhetoric of social and political engagement such as public protest against social injustice, small-scale community art workshops that try to improve the infrastructure neglected by the authorities, or performances reflecting the politics of discrimination against women, gay, poor, or foreigners. Often, the artists also collaborate with NGOs, social organizations or other networked groups that speak to a much broader, trans- and international public. These complex interactions lead to artistic expressions that borrow from a wide variety of sources but also lead to novel forms of public aesthetics in the urban sphere.
This panel is interested in this very moment of articulation in African cities that is both, artistic and political, and that addresses various publics: How is it (in)formed, what actors does it involve, and what is exactly its modus? How are individual as well as collective imaginations of political realities and futures articulated and reflected in artistic imageries and practices, and in what relation do they stand to prevailing social imaginations? Articulation in this wider understanding covers all forms of expression insofar as they relate to others; to individuals, to communities, to all sorts of groups and institutions that play a role as actors in the urban sphere.
Please send paper proposals (500 words maximum) to: Fiona.Siegenthaler@unibas.ch
Deadline: September 1, 2013
ACASA membership is required to submit a proposal and all participants must register for the conference.
Dr. des. Fiona Siegenthaler
Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Basel
Münsterplatz 19, CH-4051 Basel
Tel: +41 61 267 27 48
Fax: +41 61 267 27 47
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