Okwui Enwezor Keynote Lecture - Topographies of Critical Practice: Exhibition as Place and Site

7 Oct 2009

Caribbean Curatorship & National Identity Symposium Keynote Lecture
Generational Shifts within the Caribbean Diaspora: Black Diaspora Visual Arts Panel
A Black Diaspora / Visual Art Conference at the 21st Annual General Meeting of the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC)

Organised by International Curators Forum (ICF) and Barbados National Art Gallery Committee (BNAGC) with support from ICOM and MAC.

“The topic of my lecture seeks to thematize and analyze how the discipline of curatorship and exhibitions as sites of knowledge production offer an opportunity to engage a range of diverse issues that constitute the vital stakes in the practice, theory, and production of contemporary art. Over the last two decades the format of the contemporary exhibition has offered a rich ground on which to address questions of historical becoming of a range of artistic practices flowing out of African and African diasporic spaces. These exhibitions are an important reminder that every field or discipline requires a frame, or perhaps, a concatenation of frames within which theoretical reflections and historical analyses could be made. My frame of analysis with regards to my own curatorial work concerns how such a field could be formulated, and what sorts of critical tools are brought to bear in articulating the stances of the curator, the exhibition, the artist, and the work of art. There is at the same time the tension between the contextual ground and the historical question in which such stances take place. These queries may not necessarily begin with issues of disciplinary identification, but may, instead point to what at first may be understood as limiting forms of identification that concern race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, and ultimately locality. Contemporary African and African diasporic art today are not only fraught disciplinary concepts, more importantly, they are fraught geo-political concepts. My task in this lecture is to seek out how the work of art and the site of exhibitions have been shaping grounds for the manifestation of topographies of critical practice.”


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