In Context: Africans in America

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
17 Nov 2016 - 17 Dec 2016

In Context: Africans in America

Hank Willis Thomas, A Place to Call Home (Africa-America), 2009 (detail)

As part of its ongoing In Context series, Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce the forthcoming exhibition Africans in America and the concurrent academic conference Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures, along with a series of events happening throughout Johannesburg. The citywide initiative will take place from November 2016 through January 2017.

In 2010, Goodman Gallery director Liza Essers launched In Context, an innovative curatorial platform to bring together a diverse group of international artists who share a rigorous commitment to the dynamics and tensions of place in reference to the African continent. A signature programme within the gallery, In Context activates the city of Johannesburg as a locus of contemporary art practice, ideas and discourses. In Context takes place in Johannesburg in the absence of an officially funded citywide biennial. Goodman Gallery takes great pleasure in facilitating the exhibition Africans in America and spearheading the Black Portraiture[s] III conference. These events play a vital part in addressing gaps in art history, rewriting it from diverse perspectives, a central pursuit within the In Context series.

Conceptualised and curated by artist Hank Willis Thomas and Liza Essers, Africans in America aims to speak to the flows, exchanges and continuities between the continent of Africa and the United States. The exhibition will take place across two spaces in the city, Goodman Gallery in Parkwood and the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Artists featured include Ghada Amer, Stan Douglas, Theaster Gates, Alfredo Jaar, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, Odili Donald Odita, ruby onyinyechi amanze, Carrie Mae Weems and Kehinde Wiley amongst others.

The exhibition is aligned to the important Black Portraiture[s] III initiative convened by Deborah Willis (New York University), Henry Louis Gates III (Harvard University) and Brett Pyper (University of Witwatersrand). The seventh in a series of conversations about imaging the black body, the 2016 edition is the first to be held on the African continent. The conference, which has attracted an impressive list of international panelists, opens up a forum for artists, activists and scholars from around the world to share ideas on a range of subjects, from historical topics to current research on South African art and activism and related themes affecting the global African diaspora.

Hank Willis Thomas has been represented by Goodman Gallery South Africa since 2008. Africans in America is the second exhibition he has curated for the gallery. He has become recognised for challenging constructions of race and gender in the United States and South Africa. His art has consistently extended dialogues on African and diaspora identities into significant international arenas, and his important work in South Africa has keyed into local history while driving new visions in the post-apartheid context.

In Context 2016 is a partnership between Goodman Gallery; The Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University; Wits School of Arts at University of the Witwatersrand; United States Mission to South Africa; La Pietra Dialogues/ New York University; New York University Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities and Diversity; and Hank Willis Thomas Studio, in association with Phillips; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts; Studio Museum in Harlem; Wiser Institute; Center for African American Studies/ Princeton University; Johannesburg Art Gallery; and Contemporary And.


The conference Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions – Strains of Histories and Cultures will take place at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa from 17 – 19 November 2016