Gallery Readies for International Conference

Gallery Readies for International Conference

The first International Congress of African Cultures ICAC in 1962 opened up important debates about Africa’s underplayed contribution to the global art world as well as the sophistication and holistic nature of the continents visual culture. The conference aimed at showing in the midst of Africa, the greatness of African culture in the arts and music and demonstrating the influence of African art and music on 20th Century culture. This brought together African enthusiast including, scholars, museum professionals, directors, artists, poets, writers and critics from around the world. Amongst them Alfred Barr the MoMA director, William Fagg the Keeper of the Department of Anthropology at the British Museum, Tristan Tzara the poet and essayist known mainly as a founder of Dada, Nancy Thomas prominent figure in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Talks Department, Roland Penrose C.B.E Chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Art London, S.O. Okeke of the National Museum of Nigeria and Pierre Guerre who was French Art Critic.

The second of this conference aims to look into the past, present and map out the future, from an African perspective, in Africa. This is because as far as African culture and art are concerned, they seem to be largely defined by people who are not African. With the 2nd ICAC slated for the 11th to the 13th of September 2017 in Harare at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, this week we feature some of the key highlights that will take place during the Conference.

The Conference will run alongside an exhibition program.The art exhibition by its nature holds a mirror up to society, reflecting its past and present interests and concerns while at the same time challenging ideologies and pre-conceptions.The Gallery has held many exhibitions throughout its 60 year existence which have served as a chronicle of the developments of local art while also stimulating the growth of local artistic talent. The exhibition program set to run alongside the conference will showcase distinguished artists, both living and late from all over the continent. Some of the exhibitions that delegates can look forward to are the Mapping Zimbabwean Art Exhibition and the African Voices exhibition. The Mapping exhibition presents a visual art history narrative dating back to the earliest art activities of Zimbabwe, while African Voices presents a show of contemporary art from Africa.

ICAC will also consist of an optional visit to Great Zimbabwe which is one of the greatest symbols of African Civilization. The authenticity of the property is unquestionable; particularly the fossil localities which need to remain preserved.At this site, discussion around intangible and tangible heritage will be held.Heritage is anything that is considered important enough to be passed on to the future generations. It gives people a connection to certain social values, beliefs, religions and traditional customs. Heritage conservation has proven to be a thriving place for entrepreneurship and innovation. Also, since the work is very labor intensive, it ends up creating more jobs, thus creating employment.

There will be an inaugural Art Week which is designed to offer the mushrooming art spaces of Harare an opportunity to celebrate with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and showcase their work. This will promote Zimbabwe’s most contemporary and cutting edge galleries, collectives, craft centers and art related organizations. Art Weeks or fairs are a popular phenomenon across the globe with some of the popular ones being the Cape town Art Week, African Art Week, Venice International Performance Art week, Modern art week, Oxfordshire art week and London Art Fair. With the knowledge that the arts have the potential to boost the economy and create employment, it is of great importance to facilitate platforms and fora in which mushrooming art spaces can showcase their work.

People can look forward to mind intriguing and analytical Keynote speakers that will present during the conference. Some of the key note speakers are Olu Oguibe and Thembinkosi Goniwe. Olu Oguibe is a Nigerian born art historian, artist, poet, critic, and assistant professor in the History of Architecture and Art Department of the University of Illinois in Chicago. Oguibe was honoured with the State of Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award for excellence and lifetime achievement on 15 June 2013. His critical and theoretical writings have appeared in several key volumes including The Dictionary of ArtArt History and its Methods, Art in Theory 1900-2000 and The Visual Culture Reader. His most recent books include Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace (MIT Press, 2000) and The Culture Game (University of Minnesota Press, 2004.

Thembinkosi Goniwe is a curator, art historian and critic from South Africa, currently completing a PhD at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Recent curatorial projects include Desire: Ideal Narratives in Contemporary South African Art, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2011; Space: Currencies in Contemporary Africa Art, Museum Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2010; and Koma & Ulwaluko: Politics and Poetics of Making Manhood, Polokwane Art Museum, South Africa, 2010.Goniwe is an artist, scholar and author of Space: Currencies in Contemporary African Art.

Registration for the Conference will start from the 1st of July to September and people can also register during the conference. The registration fee for locals is $60 and for International delegates, $150.

“We received positive feedback after a presentation on the forth coming Conference in Venice. Curators, artists, art critics, researchers and individuals were commenting that hosting the second International Conference of African Cultures is a noble idea that will afford them with an opportunity to come and understand the history of the National Gallery, Zimbabwean art and to meet some of the artists who have contribute immensely to the development of Zimbabwe’s modern and contemporary art. Many international delegates expressed interest in attending the Conference and we expect it to be fully subscribed, said Mr. Raphael Chikukwa the Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

“We invite everyone from the local and international community to register for the Conference be it as individuals or as an organisation. People can register Online on the Gallery website from the 1st of July and they will be able to pay using Zim Switch, Master Card, Visa, Ecocash and bank transfers. This is an opportunity not to miss as there will be discussions on mapping the future of African Arts and Cultures by Africans in Africa,” said the Curator for Education and Public Programming at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Miss Tandazani Dhlakama.

The International Conference of African Cultures will be held from the 11th to the 13th of September 2017.