JENNIFER BAJOREK, 2019 SPRING MILLARD MEISS PUBLICATION FUND AWARDS RECIPIENT

Congratulations to VIAD RA Jennifer Bajorek who was recently announced a recipient of the prestigious Millard Meiss Publication Fund Award, for her 2019 publication Unfixed: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in West Africa (Duke University Press).

The Millard Meiss Publication Fund is made possible by a generous bequest of the late Professor Millard Meiss. Two times each year, CAA awards grants to publishers in art history and visual culture to support presses in the publication of projects of the highest scholarly and intellectual merit that may not generate adequate financial return.
— CCA Commons

Click here for more information on the Millard Meiss Publication Fund Award. View Jennifer Bajorek’s bio


‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ A SOLO EXHIBITION BY ALBERTA WHITTLE AT TYBURN GALLERY, LONDON

Artist and VIAD Research Associate Alberta Whittle has an upcoming solo exhibition entitled Business As Usual at the Tyburn Gallery in London. A multi-faceted artist whose practice includes film, performance, and various forms of collage and assemblage, Whittle is known for work which uses the body as a site of potential for transformation and resistance. Creating space to acknowledge the effects of history on the present, she envisions new models for the future, drawing on science fiction, decolonial knowledge, and the power of vulnerability.

The exhibition will run from 31 May – 27 July 2019.

For this exhibition, the artist has conceived a series of large-scale digital collages which bring together elements of photography and painting, using performative self-portraiture to depict re-imagined histories and radical futures. She uses collage to reveal the mutability of narratives and encourage multiple ways of knowing. Accommodating various perspectives, images and texts, this practice allows her to disturb the constructed notion of a singular, objective history, and shed light on a wealth of stories and experiences which have been overlooked. These images show manifold alternative possibilities, overflowing in rich kaleidoscopic symmetry.
— From the Tyburn Gallery

For more information on the exhibition, please see the Tyburn Gallery website here.


CONGRATULATIONS TO RENÉE MUSSAI FOR HER WORK ON THE AWARD-WINNING BOOK ‘SOMNYAMA NGONYAMA, HAIL THE DARK LIONESS!’

The VIAD team would like to extend their congratulations to Research Associate Renée Mussai for her work on Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness! the winner of the Best Photography Book Award 2019, awarded by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation. The book comprises photographs from Zanele Muholi’s internationally renowned exhibition of the same name, and was edited by Renée Mussai. Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness! also features contributions from Unoma Azuah, Milisuthando Bongela, Ama Josephine Budge, Cheryl Clarke, Fariba Derakhshani, Andiswa Dlamini, Christine Eyene, Tamar Garb, Thelma Golden, Sophie Hackett, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Peace Kiguwa, Mapula Lehong, Sindiwe Magona, Napo “Popo” Masheane, Hlonipha Mokoena, Jackie Mondi, Renée Mussai, Pumelela “Push” Nqelenga, Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Ruti Talmor, Christie van Zyl, Carla Williams, and Deborah Willis.

Zanele Muholi has been awarded the Best Photography Book Award 2019 for their striking monograph Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness produced by Aperture. After entering the world stage in the early 2000’s, Zanele has come to the forefront of public attention, particularly in the past weeks with work on display in Ralph Rugoff’s main show at the 58th Venice Biennale, and an announcement this week that they will be exhibiting at Tate Modern in 2020. Zanele’s Kraszna-Krausz Foundation awarded publication presents a series of bold self-portraits that are timely and relevant statements on race, gender and identity.
— From the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation website

For more information on the book and the award, please see the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation website here.


CONGRATULATIONS TO CHERYL FINLEY IN HER NEW APPOINTMENT

VIAD is proud to announce that Research Associate Prof Cheryl Finely has been appointed as Distinguished Inaugural Visiting Director of the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies. She will be leading a new program at the AUC aimed at building a pipeline for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to impact the museum professions and the art world by majoring in art history or minoring in curatorial studies at the undergraduate level and being prepared through internships and art intensive programs to attend graduate school (MA/PhD programs in Art History, Curatorial Studies and Museum Studies) or obtain jobs in museums, galleries and the larger art world professions.

For more information on the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies, please see this link.


JENNIFER BAJOREK FEATURED SPEAKER AT MOMA FORUM ON CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

Associate Professor Jennifer Bajorek presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, as a featured speaker at ‘photographic representations and colonial discourses’ on 10 April 2019. The event formed part of MoMA’s forums on contemporary photography, which was founded in 2010.

The upcoming session will examine links between photographic legacy, vernacular histories, and colonial discourses. It could be argued that, since its advent in 1839, the photographic gaze has been inflected with colonial ideologies. At the same time, the preservation of photographs and their negatives is integral to scholarly and artistic approaches to interpreting the narratives of a society. Gaps or neglect in the archive also pose a challenge to reconstituting underrepresented or erased histories. Contesting the distorting lens of colonizing perspectives, the practices of several contemporary artists and scholars have sought new ways to interpret historic events and reclaim cultural heritages.
— From the Museum of Modern Art

Read an article about the Forums from Art in America.

To watch the recording of ‘Photographic Representations and Colonial Discourses’ please visit the MoMA website here.


‘VIVAN SUNDARAM IS NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER’: A NEW BOOK BY RUTH ROSENGARTEN

VIAD is proud to announce the release of ‘Vivan Sundaram Is Not A Photographer: The Photographic Works Of Vivan Sundaram’, a new book by research associate Dr Ruth Rosengarten, published by Tulika Books, Dehli.

Belonging to a generation of figurative artists that emerged from the Baroda School in the early 1960s, Vivan Sundaram has consistently and passionately engaged with the historical and political particularities of his own position as a subject in India and in the world at large. Ruth Rosengarten explores how, from the 1990s, Sundaram’s practice has become paradigmatic of a mode of work that might be defined at one level as curatorial—where the location of production and that of public display converge. He began using photography as a more active agent in his work in the 1990s; a change that coincided with his abandonment of painting as a practice and his engagement with installation. Rosengarten highlights the fact that incorporation of photography into his installations is only one aspect of Sundaram’s simultaneous recruitment of multiple sources, materials, and technologies. Moreover, the idea of photographs as archival documents sits alongside his engagement with other forms of archival material through which he (re)assembles and orders the past.

The London launch of the book will be hosted by the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies on 29 May 2019. If you are able to attend the launch, more information can be found here.


ALEXANDRA KOKOLI AWARDED PAUL MELLON CENTRE MID-CAREER FELLOWSHIP

Dr Alexandra Kokoli, senior lecturer in visual culture at Middlesex University London and research associate at VIAD, has been awarded a mid-career fellowship by the Paul Mellon Centre. The award consists of a 4-month remission from teaching and administration to be used towards the completion of her book project The Virtual Feminist Museum of Greenham Common, the first-ever monograph dedicated to the art and visual activism of the Greenham common women’s peace camp (1981-2000).

Long celebrated for the performative activist strategies of women protestors against nuclear proliferation and their craft-based DIY interventions on the periphery fence the USRAF airbase, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and its Berkshire site are beginning to be recognised as English (and Welsh) heritage with a transnational reach. Kokoli aims to consolidate, elaborate, and further promote this recognition, while also troubling the notion of ‘heritage’ with the tool kit of feminist art history. Viewed through the lens of feminist intergenerational transmission, Greenham Common exemplifies Griselda Pollock’s formulation of the virtual feminist museum: mobilising Aby Warburg’s Nachleben (afterlife/survival by metamorphosis), the virtual feminist museum untethers artefacts, images, and practices from their historical contexts and sets them in motion, tracing their travels, reoccurrences and transformations across time and space. Kokoli argues that the virtual museum of Greenham Common is fuelled by the transdisciplinary intersection of scholarship and the continuing fight for change, be it against war, the arms trade, nuclear power, global inequalities, or austerity.

For more information on the award please see the announcement of the award here, and the complete list of the other Paul Mellon fellowship and grant awardees.


IN MEMORIAM: COUZE VENN / CELEBRATING A LIFE’S WORK

It is with great sadness that VIAD announces the passing of Couze Venn, whose ten-year association with the centre profoundly influenced its research culture and direction. After a long and courageous struggle, Couze was admitted to the Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay (UK), where he died on 13 March 2019.

On a personal level, I would like to express my deep appreciation for the mentoring role Couze played in my artistic and academic journey, and to acknowledge the fine thinker and humble, generous person that he was. Thank you Couze, your contributions will challenge and influence generations to come
— Leora Farber, VIAD Director
Couze Venn was an outstanding academic who published on a number of fields. One who had the temerity to think outside the frame, as After Capital, the title of his last book suggests. At the same time, he was also a person of great understanding and humility who always had time to positively encourage others. He was a wonderful friend, colleague and mentor to many. The spirit of his encounters and words will live on
— Mike Featherstone

Just a few weeks ago, and despite serious health struggles, Couze Venn published an opinion piece in Open Democracy. From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet, he demonstrated (and historically located) neoliberalism’s normalised economy of hostility as a zero sum game of winners and losers, whose only beneficiaries are the far right.

Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and ‘losers’.
— Couze Venn from Open Democracy

Click here to read the full tribute in Theory, Culture & Society article and here to read his Open Democracy piece


CSSJ / A LEGACY OF SCHOLARSHIP

Brown University recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Centre for The Study of Slavery & Justice (CSSJ). The centre was founded in 2012 by VIAD Visiting Professor Anthony Bogues (bio), following a commission initiated in 2003 by brown’s then president, Ruth J. Simmons, which tasked a steering committee to examine the university’s historical entanglement with slavery and the slave trade. In addition to the work it does within Brown, the CSSJ supports a range of research and curatorial projects focused on histories of racial slavery, its legacies, and its ramifications for the present. VIAD and the CSSJ will collaborate this year on an exhibition and public programme curated by Bogues and featuring renowned Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié.

The CSSJ is a centre in the world … It does not just reside in the academic space. Sometimes the academy tends to be isolated from the world, but we are engaged with it. We have no other option, because the issues and questions we work on demand rigorous scholarship and are critical to the world we live in today.
— Anthony Bogues, VIAD VP & CSSJ Founding Director
We are very proud of our work with CSSJ … We see it as essential to forge new relationships amongst museums and research institutions, as well as between public institutions and their audiences in order to make museums and universities into sites more relevant to addressing questions of repair, reckoning, reconciliation and justice.
— Paul Gardullo, Director of the Center for the Study of Global Slavery

Click here for Gillian Kiley’s article on the CSSJ


PRIYA RAMRAKHA / THE LONG-AWAITED BOOK

With the support of 386 Kickstarter backers, Shravan Vidyarthi and VIAD RA Erin Haney are thrilled to announce the publication of ‘Priya Ramrakha - A Photo Book from a Forgotten Archive’. The books were printed in Heidelberg, Germany, in late October and bound shortly after that. The first copies travelled to Paris photo in November, and the book is now available via Amazon (link).

From a long-hidden archive, rediscovered photos from one of Africa’s most storied and influential photojournalists

In October 2017 VIAD hosted the first comprehensive survey Ramrakha’s work. View exhibition details here.


AMOHELANG MOHAJANE / NEW CURATOR AT NWU GALLERY

VIAD is thrilled at the appointment of Amohelang Mohajane as the new curator of the NWU Gallery, North West University, Potchefstroom. As VIAD’S 2018 curatorial intern, Amohelang was an integral part of the centre’s programming. We wish her all the best in this new and well-deserved position, and look forward to future collaborations!

The NWU Gallery (North West University) was established in 2002. This designated space, sharing a building with the main university library and NWU Archive in Potchefstroom, boasts climate controlled storage facilities and a large exhibition space for temporary exhibitions. It has seen over a hundred exhibitions since its launch, from esteemed local and international artists alike. It also houses the NWU Art Collection artworks not currently on loan.

‘DISCERNING PHOTOGRAPHY’S WHITE GAZE’

VIAD RA Prof John Edwin Mason recently took to twitter, criticising the perpetuation of the white gaze in the Taylor Wessing photographic portrait competition (its most recent winner was the much-criticised South African ex-pat photographer Alice Mann). Although promoting itself as a leading international competition - “which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world” - the demographic of past winners speaks to a problematic ethnographic legacy in which white artists benefit from the aesthetic commodification of black and brown bodies. Hyperallergic picked up on the story and interviewed Prof Mason:

So, let me get this straight … All four prize winners in this year’s Taylor Wessing competition are portraits of black or brown people made by white photographers. That’s f_cked up ... I’m by no means saying that white photographers can’t make portraits that challenge the white supremacist gaze. Some have and some do,” he said. “But photographers of color, by and large, are more likely to make images that subvert the white gaze. They do it by creating images that are rooted in the particular historical experiences of black and brown peoples. They create, that is, new ways of seeing and of knowing.
— John Mason

Click here for Jasmine Weber’s Hyperallergic’s article, Discerning Photography’s White Gaze - The three top winners of the prestigious Taylor Wessing Prize depict people of color, photographed by white photographers.


NYU BOOK LAUNCH / CHERYL FINLEY'S 'COMMITTED TO MEMORY'   

Cornell University Art Historian & VIAD RA Prof Cheryl Finley's new publication - Committed To Memory. The Art of The Slave Ship Icon - will be launched at New York University on Thursday the 13th sept. Presenting this remarkable contribution, Prof Finley will be in conversation Jennifer L. Morgan, chair, Department of Social And Cultural Analysis-NYU. 

For me, what’s key is the icon’s longevity and its enduring presence in the minds of black artists and their allies, who’ve used the image to show offenses against human rights and violence against black people and black bodies...

Click here for details on the launch

Click here for the recent Cornell Chronicle feature


GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND ART IN THE #MeToo ERA 

VIAD RA Prof M. Neelika Jayawardane writes on the responsibility of art institutions in relation to gender-based violence perpetrated by 'star' artists - citing the current controversy around South African artist Mohau Modisakeng.

Click here to read her Al Jazeera feature

How we, as professionals in the art world, decide to react towards the violent people working in our field will have a significant impact. Individuals in influential positions and persons on boards are the guides of institutional policies - they reflect prevailing “norms” and belief systems of dominant cultural groups. And conversely, institutions shape our values and what we accept as “norms

View Prof. Neelika Jayawardane's bio


NEW BOOK PUBLICATIONS BY VIAD RAs 

VIAD is thrilled to announce a number of important new book publications authored and/or edited by research associates Cheryl Finley, Kimberly Lamm, Nathaniel Stern, Bryan Trabold and Couze Venn. 

CHERYL FINLEY (bio)

/ Committed to Memory. The Art of the Slave Ship Icon (Princeton University Press - link)

KIMBERLY LAMM (bio) 

/ Addressing the other woman. Textual correspondences in feminist art and writing (Manchester University Press - link)

NATHANIEL STERN (bio)

/ Ecological Aesthetics - artful tactics for humans, nature, and politics (Dartmouth College Press - link)

BRYAN TRABOLD (bio)

/ Rhetorics of Resistance. Opposition Journalism in Apartheid South Africa (University of Pittsburgh Press - link)

COUZE VENN (bio)

/ After Capital (Sage Publishing - link)