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Fiona Siegenthaler

Siegenthaler, Fiona (Lic. Phil / MA Art History, University of Basel, 2005; PhD Social Anthropology, University of Basel, 2012). Dr Fiona Siegenthaler is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Department of Art History and Archaeology and the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University, New York (2018), where she pursues her single-authored research project Theorizing Contemporary Art and Social Space in African Cities. She also is a Project Coordinator and Post-doc Researcher of Art/Articulation: Art and the Formation of Social Space in African Cities, a four year research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Basel (2015-2019), and a Research Associate at VIAD, University of Johannesburg.

Her PhD thesis Imageries of Johannesburg. Visual Arts and Spatial Practices in a Transforming City (2012) focused on the relationship between artistic, social and spatial practices in Johannesburg and the representation of the city, a topic that continues to inform her current research on contemporary art in Kampala, Uganda. Related publications include essays in Critical Arts, Critical Interventions, African Art, Social Dynamics, Research in African Literatures, and other scholarly journals as well as edited volumes.

Recently, she co-edited (with Iolanda Pensa, Marta Pucciarelli et al.) Public Art in Africa. Art and Urban Transformations in Douala (2017). She is currently co-editing three themed journal issues on Decolonial Processes in Swiss Academia and Cultural Institutions (with Marie-laure Allain Bonilla), Rethinking the Dialectics of Rural & Urban in African Art and Scholarship (with Smooth Ugochukwu Nzewi and Nadine Siegert), and Re-Imagining African Cities. The Arts and Urban Politics (with Till Förster).

She teaches a wide range of courses in African Art History, Visual Culture, Performance Studies, Cultural Studies and Visual Anthropology. With a background in Art History and Social/Cultural Anthropology, her research and teaching interests are located in the intersection of Social Sciences and the Humanities, with emphasis on contemporary visual and performance arts in urban Africa. She has work experience in academia as well as in art galleries, art education, art criticism, and curatorial practice. 

Recent publications                                                                                Siegenthaler, F. 2018. „Kunst und sozialer Raum in afrikanischen Städten: Öffentlichkeit, Praxis und Imagination“, in: Regio Basilensis 57/3, eds. Veit Arlt and Lena Bloemertz, Center for African Studies, Geographisch-Ethnologische Gesellschaft Basel et al., Basel, pp. 183-191 (in print).

Siegenthaler, F. 2017. “Aesthetic Shifts in a Transforming City: Performative Acts and Gestures in the Urban Space of Johannesburg”, in: Cities in Flux: Metropolitan Spaces in South African Literary and Visual Texts. Festschrift in Honor of Professor Em. Dr. Therese Steffen, eds. Moreillon, Olivier, Alan Muller and Lindy Stiebel. Zurich: LIT Verlag, pp. 73-99.

Pensa, I., Pucciarelli, M., Siegenthaler F. et al. 2017 (eds.). Public Art in Africa. Art and Urban Transformations in Douala. Geneva: Métis Presses (hard copy with extended e-book).

Pensa, I., Siegenthaler, F. 2017. “Introduction”, in: Pensa, I., Pucciarelli, M., Siegenthaler, F. et al. (eds.): Public Art in Africa. Art and Urban Transformations in Douala. Geneva: Métis Presses, pp. 2-8 (e-book).

Siegenthaler, F., Herzog, D. 2017. “Artistic Practice and Art Publics in Africa: Exit Tour”, in Pensa, I., Pucciarelli, M., Siegenthaler, F. et al. (eds.): Public Art in Africa. Art and Urban Transformations in Douala. Geneva: Métis Presses n.p. (e-book).

Siegenthaler, F. 2017. “Contemporary African Art”, in: Pensa, I., Pucciarelli, M., Siegenthaler, F. et al. (eds.): Public Art in Africa. Art and Urban Transformations in Douala. Geneva: Métis Presses. Glossary pp. 3-15 (e-book).

Siegenthaler, F. 2017. “Johannesburg: Vom Gold der Moderne zur Post-Apartheid Gegenwart/Johannesburg: From the Gold of Modernism to the Post-Apartheid Present“, in: Müller Y. and Bennett, L.: Inside the Carlton Hotel Johannesburg. Heidelberg: Kehrer, pp. 8-17/18-27.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016. “Playing Around with Money: Currency as a Contemporary Artistic Medium in Urban Africa”, in: Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture 10(2), pp. 135-153. Issue editor Jordan A. Fenton.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016. “Representation and Beyond”. Book review of Art and Trauma in Africa. Representations of Reconciliation in Music, Visual Arts, Literature and Film, eds. Bisschoff, L., Van de Peer, S., in: African Arts 49(3), pp. 92-93.

Recent Conference Papers

Siegenthaler, F. 2017. „Verletzende Kunst: Praktiken des Sehens und Leidens in der Post-Apartheid“. Presentation at the conference Kritiken des Leidens, Freie Universität Berlin, 10-11 November 2017.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016. “The Call for De-colonization in Art and Art Education: Discourses and Practices in Kampala, Uganda”. Presentation at the SAVAH conference Rethinking Art History and Visual Culture in a Contemporary Context, University of Johannesburg, 28-31 July 2016.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016. “The Struggle for Audiences and Resources in the City: Art-related Initiatives, Competition, and Social Space in Kampala”. Presentation at the workshop Re-imagining the African City: The Arts and Urban Politics, University of Basel, 11-12 March 2016.

Panelist, Opening Speaker, Seminars and Public Presentations

Siegenthaler, F., Battaglia, G., Clarke, J. 2018 (panel chairs). Panel P029 Bodies of Archives/Archival Bodies. Conference Art, Materiality and Representation, Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), British Museum London, 01-03 June 2018.

Siegenthaler F. 2018. “Theorizing Contemporary Art and Social Space in African Cities”. Walter Rodney Seminar workshop, Boston University, Boston, 02 April 2018. On invitation by Lynne E. Cooney and Edouard Bustin, Boston University.

Siegenthaler, F., Förster, T. 2017 (panel chairs). Panel Art and Articulation: The Entanglement of Artistic Practice and Social Articulation in Africa, 17th Triennial Symposium on African Art (ACASA), Accra, 08-13 August 2017.

Siegenthaler, F. 2017 (chair). Points of Orientation: Navigating Kampala’s Art World and Beyond. Round table conversation with Ahimbisibwe, R., Bahana, T., Balimunsi, P., Goebel, A., Mukyala, H., Nakitende, S., Nansubuga, R., Waddimba, E. Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, 02 August 2017. On invitation by Anja Goebel.

Siegenthaler, F. 2017 (chair and introduction). Panel Urban Artists with Rural Links: Contemporary Art and Social Practice. Conference Urban Africa – Urban Africans: New Encounters of the Rural and the Urban. Seventh European Conference on African Studies (ECAS 2017), Basel 29 June-01 July 2017.

Siegenthaler, F., Andrialavidrazana, M. 2017. Artist talk in occasion of the book launch of Afrique-Asie. Arts, espaces, pratiques, eds. Malaquais, D., Khouri, N. (2016), Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, 16 March 2017. On invitation by Dominique Malaquais.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016 (chair). Panel Cooperation Practice: Problems and Lessons Learnt. Conference Museum Cooperation between Africa and Europe: Opportunities, Challenges and Modalities. Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich, 01-03 December 2016.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016. “Teaching Contemporary African Art”. Presentation at staff retreat of the Margaret Trowell School for Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University, Kampala, 08 August 2016. On invitation by the Dean Dr. Kizito Maria Kasule.

Siegenthaler, F. 2016. “Intimacy and Representation: (Auto-)biographical Challenges in Research Relationships”. Presentation at workshop Intimate Archives//Autobiographical Acts. Personal Surfacings as Expressed through Material Culture. Research Center Visual Art, Design and Architecture, FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, 04-05 August 2016. Invited by Prof. Leora Farber.