Clarke: I’d like to address these concluding questions in reverse order. I do agree with Yukiya that Africa’s contemporary artists are not on a level playing field in a global art world largely defined by Euro-American narratives and hierarchies. I think we are only just beginning to understand the implications of a globalized art world and the need to rethink and rework, perhaps dismantle, existing institutional frameworks (including, but not limited to, museums) and outmoded ways of thinking about art. For museums, this transformation will be especially challenging in the current economic and intellectual climate, as Khwezi notes.
In terms of priorities for future exhibitions and projects, I largely agree with what others have said. There is a need for to move beyond repetitive models and the existing canon of contemporary artists, to dig deeper in our research and broaden our awareness of the range of contemporary practice. We should be organizing more monographic exhibitions and retrospectives. We should address issues of visibility and access by ensuring that modern and contemporary art of Africa is presented in multiple contexts, including in thoughtful dialogue with the work of artistic contemporaries from around the world as well as in historic perspective.
I would add that one of the biggest challenges, to my mind, is the representation of modern African art in museums. Most of the focus in the art world, even in this roundtable discussion, is on contemporary artistic practice and it seems there are few museums acquiring and presenting works by Africa’s modern artists. Will this be the “lost chapter” in the museum representation of the arts of Africa or of modernism? While we strive to keep up with the contemporary, we also need to make a place/s for Africa’s modernisms in museums through display and acquisition.