Okeke-Agulu: In recent years there have been a vexed question of what one might call the geography of contemporary African art; an issue that once again touches on how we imagine the field. Perhaps because of the international success of a relatively few African artists living in the west, there has been a push back against this either by artists and critics living on the continent who feel under-represented internationally, or by western critics/curators–the best-known is perhaps Robert Storr’s intervention during his 2007 Venice Biennale–who feel they have the power to change this supposedly troublesome trend. Of course this is a rather complicated debate often elicited by biennales and high profile shows (a recent issue of Art in America touches on similar debates in contemporary Japanese art). But it also, I think, has some relevance to the work of museums that collect and exhibit contemporary African artists. So my question is this, as museum curators: how do you approach this question in your work, both in terms of developing your museum’s collection, and producing exhibitions?

A second question, which I am not sure has come up in anyone radar screen as yet, is the increasing problem of fakes in the secondary market. As I noted in my editorial in the current issue of Nka, this has become a major issue in Nigeria, which I think dominates the secondary market at the moment. Fake works by living and dead modernists are beginning to turn up in auction houses and art dealerships, and it is not clear to me if there are already in place structures to deal with this problem; if not how might we go about this. Of course the appearance of fakes in any field is suggestive of increasing monetary value of art works, so in a sense it is a sign of progress; an indication that contemporary African art is coming of age. But it is none the less a problem for museums and curators to begin to contemplate as we go forward. Any thoughts on this?

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