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African Art, Interviews, Narratives

Bodies of Knowledge at Work

Edited by Joanna Grabski and Carol Magee

Publication Year: 2013

Joanna Grabski and Carol Magee bring together a compelling collection that shows how interviews can be used to generate new meaning and how connecting with artists and their work can transform artistic production into innovative critical insights and knowledge. The contributors to this volume include artists, museum curators, art historians, and anthropologists, who address artistic production in a variety of locations and media to question previous uses of interview and provoke alternative understandings of art.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: African Expressive Cultures


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Dedication Page

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pp. 6-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: The Work of Interviews

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pp. 1-11

Who could deny that interviews occupy an exalted place in our research imagination? This is the place where one of the most ordinary of human activities—dialogue— becomes a research instrument, a tool to both extract and produce understandings, and an indispensable resource to be put toward our interpretive undertakings. For those of us writing about cultural production in Africa, interviews...

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1. Talking to People about Art

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pp. 12-24

Without thinking about it deeply, you might not realize that talking to people about art is a practice fraught with difficulty. First, there is the fact that visual art especially, but also music and performance, deploy form to produce an effect in ways that often defy authoritative explanation. Art takes you to places filled with thoughts and emotions, but by a very different route than you would...

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2. Ghostly Stories: Interviews with Artists in Dakar and the Productive Space around Absence

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pp. 25-40

Since the late 1990s, I have made several research trips to Dakar, where I re-encounter the people who have made this space meaningful and purposeful for me. Just as our re-encounters are shaped by who is present, they inevitably involve exchanges about who is absent. I have come to think of absence as an increasingly significant, if not defining, theme in my research with artists in Dakar. While an...

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3. Can the Artist Speak?: Hamid Kachmar’s Subversive Redemptive Art of Resistance

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pp. 41-55

In the fall of 2009 Hamid Kachmar, a young Moroccan artist of Amazigh heritage, was featured in a solo show in the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum located in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The mission of the Brown Gallery and the Stone Center is “to critically examine all dimensions of African American, African and African Diaspora cultures through its education program and through...

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4. Photography, Narrative Interventions, and (Cross) Cultural Representations

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pp. 56-69

Every year in the wintry cold of late January or early February, Time, Inc., releases the much-anticipated Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The swimsuit-clad models are meant to transport readers out of the doldrums of winter to the warmth of tropical locations (e.g., Bermuda, Bora Bora, Dominican Republic, Mexico). Shot in a different location every year—Sports Illustrated identifies the locale each time, ...

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5. Narrating the Artist: Seyni Camara and the Multiple Constructions of the Artistic Persona

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pp. 70-85

Exhibition narratives have long-lasting power in determining the ways in which artists and their work are perceived and appreciated by the public and scholars. Even when the stance taken by curators of successful exhibitions is criticized by reviewers and academics, the implications of their discourse may persist for years. Sometimes, the intellectual and political narratives informing an exhibition prove...

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6. Interview: Akinbode Akinbiyi

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pp. 86-97

Interviewer: After months of trying to arrange a meeting with Akinbode Akinbiyi, I eventually tied him down to a date and time in what he calls his home city, Lagos. He actually lives in Berlin, and it was there that I often emailed him. Of Nigerian parentage, he was born in Oxford, England, just after the Second World...

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7. Interweaving Narratives of Art and Activism: Sandra Kriel’s Heroic Women

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pp. 98-113

This chapter considers the relationship between the process of political radicalization and the production of visual culture in the work of Sandra Kriel, a South African artist who depicts politically active women in her work. A participant in South Africa’s resistance art movement, Kriel came of age as an artist and activist during the fight against apartheid, and she is now well known as a politically...

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8. Politics of Narrative at the African Burial Ground in New York City: The Final Monument

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pp. 114-130

The African Burial Ground located in lower Manhattan was used by Africans and people of African descent from approximately 1700 until 1790. It covered five to six acres and likely contained the remains of ten thousand to twenty thousand people. A small portion of the African Burial Ground was unearthed in 1991 when...

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9. Who Owns the Past?: Constructing an Art History of a Malian Masquerade

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pp. 131-145

Since the 1980s anthropologists have paid increasingly more attention to issues of ethnographic authority, fieldwork reciprocity, and the way that collaboration through interviews profoundly shapes the production of scholarly narratives.1 This chapter focuses on the critical role that interviews have played in my field research and in the writing of an art history of youth association masquerades in Mali.2 My...

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10. Framing Practices: Artists’ Voices and the Power of Self-Representation

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pp. 146-162

In The Predicament of Culture, James Clifford raised the problem of cross-cultural translations, challenging the notion of ethnographic authority and asking the fundamental question: “Who has the authority to speak for a group’s identity or authenticity?”1 This question has great relevance to discussions of museum exhibitions as narratives about cultural production from Africa and to considerations...

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11. Undisciplined Knowledge

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pp. 163-178

This chapter explores the possibility of art-writing occupying a space that is “undisciplined,” where it resists categorization and translation into the domain of art history. We propose that such a space is enabled not only through dialogue but also by recognizing the multi-sited character of art-making and the effects that its movement, politics, and social relations can have on writing about and framing...

Appendix: Interlocutors

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pp. 179-182


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pp. 183-186


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pp. 187-194

E-ISBN-13: 9780253006998
E-ISBN-10: 0253006996
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006875

Page Count: 206
Illustrations: 12 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: African Expressive Cultures