[-empyre-] welcome to paradise

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Tue May 1 22:32:06 EST 2012

thank you, Motoba Naboko, for this very interesting posting.

In regard to your example of "Welcome to Paradise,"  I'd be interested in asking whether you underlying question  - Which representation parameters do they identify with? -  refered to the generations of Africans living there, do the photographs (representations by others) of their presences (and pasts), their self-representations or fictionalizations,  or whether your question could be expanded to refer to audience in Spain, or in Europe or the West for that matter, and how how you track the question one's a show or exhibit like this, or a conceptual undertaking like this, travels to be shown elsewhere? 

thanks also to the comments by Arshiya which we received.  "Being Singular Plural"?   has anyone seen it and could we hear some comments?  (New media from India, that was your phrase, can you perhaps comment on how you mean this? do you refer to media productions made in India, or media arts works focussing on "India" and what would it be?  sorry i have not seen the show). When we talk in such terms of cultural location, or even "origin," what exactly do we mean, 
And in Veleko's case, how does one visit the "locals"?

Finally, it puzzled me to no end that no one seems to disagree with Christiane's resigned-sounding point of view :

... the "globalized art world" seems to adhere to a largely Western paradigm of artistic expression. I was thinking about this phenomenon when I saw The Ungovernables (http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/448) at The New Museum in NYC. I very much liked a lot of the art (only 3 artists were from the US), but -- the different subjects of the work aside -- most of the artists seemed to have gone to the same "art school" (no matter if they were from Africa or Colombia or ...). It would be great to see more art with a distinctly different aesthetic language from other parts of the world; I would assume that it is precisely this "difference" (visual or conceptual languages that are not easily categorizable) that poses problems for the global art scene. There is a need for more international curatorial voices who could introduce this art.

I think there a great deal of work with  distinctly different aesthetic languages from other parts of the world existing and being produced. 

Your last sentence, Christiane, is a bit confusing to me, as surely you are not arguing that globalized/international curatorial voices should/could introduce globalized/international art scene art?  When you say "More international curatorial voices" (outside New York), whom do you have in mind?


Johannes Birringer
dap lab

motoba naboko  schreibt
I have been unable to follow up all the discussions, but since we have one more day to go I thought that it would be maybe useful to present you here some of the ways in which in my curatorial practice I have tried to challenge notions on Otherness and Western paradigms, particularly in relation to the so-called African Other…

My first attempt was to inscribe Africa and a new meaning of Africanness in the realm of cultural institutions in Spain. The CAAM, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria gave me that opportunity, while I was part of their curatorial team. I decided to begin challenging the stereotypes and prejudices that determine the display of contemporary African art. In order to do so, I invited three co-curators, Tracy Murinik, Khwezi Gule, and Gabi Ngcobo, to join me in a curatorial enterprise entitled Olvida quién Soy – Erase me from Who I am. You can download the curatorial essay from NKA magazine, http://nka.dukejournals.org/content/2008/22-23.toc

After that project, I have worked in many other initiatives, solo shows, urban interventions projects and films.


The last one… Welcome to Paradise was the first individual presentation of Nontsikelelo Veleko in Spain. The exhibition presents the most important series of the, as yet incipient, career of this South African photographer, while, at the same time, showing the latest photographs taken by the artist in Gran Canaria. Veleko visited the island’s capital to observe how young Africans live here. The purpose of this project was to examine in depth not only those communities that arrived here recently, but also generations of Africans who were born in the Canary Islands, with a view to responding to questions such as what is the current African presence in the islands? Which representation parameters do they identify with? The result was an interesting socio-cultural experience. Here you have more information about it (although only in Spanish, unfortunately!).
http://vimeo.com/10282938 (Lolo Veleko’s exhibition at Casa Africa)

More information about the empyre mailing list