Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity 

A Black Diaspora / Visual Art Conference at 21st Annual General Meeting of the Museums Association of the Caribbean

30 November – 2 December 2009

The Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity Conference in Barbados is an examination of how history is interpreted and heritage is shaped by communal memory for audiences, old and new, local and foreign. The topic allows for a broad array of issues to be examined in intensive consultation through a regional symposium and master classes to be developed in Barbados between November and December 2009, in conjunction with the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), the National Art Gallery Committee (NAGC), the International Curators Forum (ICF) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

The three themes for the symposia are Breaking the Silence, Reconstructing/ Deconstructing Identity: Place and Memory, and Generational Shifts Within The Caribbean Diaspora: Wall Based & Post Black Art.

The Black Diaspora Visual Arts (BDVA) Programme, established in 2007, is a strategic partnership between the Barbados National Art Gallery Committee and the International Curators Forum (ICF). The BDVA programme has included arts events, installations and exhibitions complementary to a series of salons, seminars and symposia hosted in Barbados and benefitting other parts of the Caribbean. Its aims include:

• To raise the profile locally, nationally and internationally of Barbadian visual artists and curators
• To invite international visual artists and curators to Barbados to establish fora for intercultural dialogue and professional development opportunities
• To prepare a 10-year strategic plan for the project, including scoping Barbadian representation in the next ‘Grand Tour’ in 2017, coinciding with the Venice Biennale and Documenta.

Owkui Enwezor Keynote Address – ‘Topographies of Critical Practice: Exhibition as Place and Site’ 

“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.”

Download lecture transcript

Full Conference Programme

Monday, November 30th (Independence Day)

Symposium 1: Breaking the Silence
Moderator: Peggy McGeary
Speakers: Florence Alexis, Winston C. Campbell, Lonnie Bunch, Kevin Farmer, Nigel Sadler

Symposium 2: Reconstructing/Deconstructing Identity: Place and Memory
Moderator: Alissandra Cummins
Speakers: Staci-Marie Dehaney, Hans-Martin Hinz, Hiromi Shiba, Barbara Prezeau Stephenson

Symposium 2: Reconstructing/Deconstructing Identity: Place and Memory
Speakers: George Abungu, Amareswar Galla, Roslyn Russell, W. Richard West, Jr.

Tuesday, December 1st

Symposium 3: Generational Shifts Within The Caribbean Diaspora
Moderator: David A Bailey
Speaker: Okwui Enwezor

Symposium 3: Generational Shifts Within The Caribbean Diaspora
Panelists: John Akomfrah, Ewan Atkinson, Janice Cheddie, Therese Hadchity, Winston Kellman, Tumelo Mosaka, Keith Piper

Symposium 4: Cultural Leadership: Global Focus
Moderator: Maureen Salmon
Panelists: Julien Anfruns, Alissandra Cummins, Nakazzi Hutchinson, Asif Khan, Basil Springer, Tom Trevor

Networks That Work For You
Moderator: Leslie Taylor
Presentation on Barbados visual arts
(BDVA stakeholders’ group)
Panelists: Graeme Evelyn, Christine Eyene, Tom Finkelpearl