Conceived by Zeitz MOCAA in collaboration with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the When We See Us webinar series is a 14-part online discursive programme that precedes a major eponymous exhibition, slated to open at Zeitz MOCAA in November 2022.
The exhibition, and its accompanying programming, including the webinar series, aims to unveil the deeper historic contexts and networks of complex and underrepresented artistic genealogies that stem from African and Black modernities and span several generations from the early 20th century to the present.
The title of the exhibition and webinar series is inspired by the 2019 American drama series, When They See Us, directed by African-American director Ava DuVernay. Flipping ‘they’ to ‘we’ allows for a dialectical shift that recentres the conversation in a differential perspective of self-writing as theorised by Cameroonian writer, historian and political scientist Achille Mbembe.
Figurative painting by Black African and African-descent artists has risen to new prominence in the contemporary art field over the last decade. The webinar series aims to connect artistic practices from the early 20th century to the present day by bringing together thought leaders from the continent and its thriving diaspora to address topics around global Black subjectivity and Black representation from the premise of artistic production. The discursive programme and the exhibition are curated by Zeitz MOCAA Executive Director and Chief Curator Koyo Kouoh and Assistant Curators Tandazani Dhlakama and Thato Mogotsi.
The series is free and will take place via Zoom on selected Tuesdays from 29 March through 6 December 2022. No registration is required. Speakers will be announced ahead of each upcoming session.
The inaugural webinar session takes place on Tuesday, 29 March 2022 at 6.30 pm SAST and will address ‘The Poetics of Black Figuration’. Speakers include Koyo Kouoh (Executive Director & Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA), Thelma Golden (Director & Chief Curator, Studio Museum) and Divine Fuh (Anthropologist & Director, HUMA-UCT) in conversation and making connections across a continuum of Black artistic practice, through a timely exploration of figurative painting by artists of African descent.
Click here to access the live link for the first webinar.
The full schedule includes:
29 Mar: The Poetics of Black Figuration
With speakers Koyo Kouoh (Executive Director & Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA), Thelma Golden (Director & Chief Curator, Studio Museum) and Divine Fuh (Anthropologist & Director, HUMA-UCT)
12 Apr: Defining the ‘We’ & the ‘Us’
10 May: African Modernists: Pioneers of Art Pedagogies & Modalities
31 May: A Century of Black Figuration as Representation of Self
14 Jun: Complicating Black Renaissance: A Continuum of Black Art Histories
12 Jul: Black is Beautiful: The Pan-African & Afropolitan impulse in Contemporary Art
26 Jul: Creolization and Syncretism: To Whom do ‘We’ Belong?
16 Aug: ‘Nobody was dreaming about me’: A Black Queering of the Canon (… after A. Lorde)
6 Sep: ‘No Black Woman Can Write Too Much’ (… after b. hooks)
27 Sep: A Global Hierarchy of Blackness: Complexities, Contradictions & Contestations
18 Oct: Refusing the Gaze: Seeing & Authoring Ourselves
8 Nov: Witness, Sitter, or Storyteller: A Politic of Portraiture
29 Nov: Fabulation: Navigating the tension between Image & Imaginaries
6 Dec: Homecoming: Patronage as Placemaking for Black & African diasporic Narratives