Lectures : 29 October 2012 – 22 February 2013

Semesterplan – Autumn 2012: Lectures : `On Négritude: A Series of Lectures on the Politics of Art Production in Africa'

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OCA would like to announce ‘On Négritude: A Series of Lectures on the Politics of Art Production in Africa’, a programme that during autumn and winter 2012-2013 explores the history of artistic and cultural production in the continent, focusing on the influence of the négritude movement and its political and cultural legacy. The series of events and the solo exhibition by the Senegalese artist Issa Samb, which opens in winter 2013 in OCA’s public space are made possible with O3-funds*.

The programme provides a framework for the exhibition, and at the same time analyses key socio-political developments taking place from the 1930s until today, with a special focus on the work of Issa Samb and the Dakar-based Laboratorie Agit-Art, of which he has been a key member since its foundation in the early 1970s. The three speakers, Salah Hassan, Manthia Diawara and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, address négritude’s figures and formations, as well as the reactions it gave occasion to, from the perspective of art, cinema and philosophy. The lectures address how the artistic, literary and ideological movement promoted by Léopold Sédar Senghor, Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas, with its self-affirmation of a unified culture of black peoples, gave birth to processes of cultural and political identity formation at the wake of the independence from colonial domination; and how, not short after, the movement was met with the criticism of political and cultural sectors, always within the spirit of postcolonial critique.

The first lecture in the programme was presented by Salah Hassan, Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture at Cornell University, under the title ‘The Conceptual Turn and the Postcolonial Moment in Africa: Laboratoire Agit-Art in Context’. The lecture attempted to contextualise the work of the Dakar-based Laboratoire Agit-Art within, on the one hand, the rise of the postcolonial critique in post-independence Africa, and on the other the emergency of Conceptualism in art globally.

The second lecture, was given by filmmaker and scholar Manthia Diawara, and focused on the influence of Senghor’s négritude on African film, the New Art Wave of African cinema, Ousmane Sembène’s cinema and the new video phenomenon of Nollywood in Nigeria. This event, organised in collaboration with Kunsthall Oslo and Afrikan History Week in Oslo, was followed by a screening programme of Sembène’s films at the Deichmanske library, Oslo. Manthia Diawara introduced the screening programme on Thursday 15 November, Black Girl (La Noire de...) (1966).

The third lecture will take place on 22 February 2013 at 19:00 and will be presented by Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a Senegalese philosopher and author of African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude (2011), who will address what he considers as the fundamental intuition behind Senghor’s influential works: that African art is a philosophy. Diagne will look at what Senghor called the ‘1889 Revolution’, and the influence of authors such Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Rimbaud and Henri Bergson in shaping an understanding of the ‘vitalism’ at the core of African religions and beliefs that found expression in the arts.

This programme is supported by O3–funds as underwritten by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for enhancing collaboration in the contemporary art field with professional artists in countries designated by the MFA. The purpose of the O3–funds as allocated to OCA is to contribute to the development of the work of artists, independent cultural producers and organisations located in designated countries. This includes but is not limited to 'professional research visits by cultural producers, artists, and curators', 'short-term residencies for cultural producers and artists', 'seminars, conferences, art projects, workshops that focus on the further development of professional exchange and networking between and among countries', and 'project development on an international scale'.

Image caption: Issa Samb, Négritude, Humanitude, Mondialitude, 2012. Courtesy of the artist