Why Africa?

The curators of three major Africa '95 shows explain their aims
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Tom Phillips

"This exhibition had no agenda. The moment just arrived to do a show on the whole of Africa. There have been comments about taking these objects out of context, but all we are doing is temporarily isolating them. After all, creating objects specifically for museums is a relatively new phenomenon.

We are not an ethnographic institution and this isn't like the old ethnographic displays. It's not so much a sophisticated show of naive objects as a naive show of sophisticated objects. I think the critics have been more open to this show, perhaps because they're coming to it without the ethnographic baggage. It's within the context of the RA's other shows of Japanese, American and German art, but there will never be a show like it again."

is the curator of the Royal Academy's `Africa: the Art of a Continent' (details below right)

Clementine Deliss

"Africa '95 is not the product of an official organisation - the Arts Council or the South Bank. I wanted to organise a debate on African art which caught the unprecedented interest in work from Africa. People in the black arts network in Britain were very keen, as was Robert Loder, the dynamo behind the current revival of South African art.

I proposed an exhibition to the Whitechapel which would look at the different Modernist experiences in Africa through curators who were actually artists. There are difficulties in making the connections between the RA exhibits and those at the Whitechapel. My idea was that the public should be able to leapfrog from one to the other."

Clementine Deliss is the curator of `Seven Stories about Modern Art from Africa' at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London E1 (0171-377 0107) and co-organiser of the Africa '95 festival

Julia Peyton-Jones

"The Africa '95 festival was an opportunity for the Serpentine to publicly make a commitment to the art of other cultures. It had to feel right as part of our exhibition programme. The show has resonances with other artists we have shown here in the past. The photography aspect ties in with Man Ray, for instance. I also chose the artists for the dynamics of their own works and their relation to each other.

Unlike the RA and Whitechapel shows, this is not an attempt at a survey. The artists' common theme is to do with narrative and looking forward. These are little utopias, visions of particular personal worlds."

Julia Peyton-Jones, the director of the Serpentine Gallery, London W2 (0171-402 6075), curated its `Big City' exhibition of contemporary African urban art

Comments