Conrad Botes. Secret Language II, 2005. Lithograph, 26 x 19 7/8". Edition: 30. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. General Print Fund, 2006. Image: (c) 2012 Conrad Botes.

“Impressions from
South Africa” and Beyond

June 21–22, 2011

This colloquium held at the Museum of Modern Art in NY, convened by Judith B. Hecker, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Natasha Becker, The Clark, brought together scholars, artists, and museum professionals to reflect upon the exhibition, Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now, MoMA, and to tease out the broader issues raised in the exhibition. The exhibition, drawn entirely from the Museum’s permanent collection, brought together prints, posters, books, and wall stencils by some thirty artists and collectives that demonstrate the unusual reach, range, and influence of printmaking in South Africa.



Participants included: Christophe Cherix, MoMA; Doryun Chong, MoMA; Jay A. Clarke, The Clark; Willie Cole, New Jersey; Erin Haney, Smithsonian Institution; Leslie King-Hammond, Center for Race and Culture, MICA; Alisa LaGamma, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Dan Leers, MoMA; Senzeni Marasela, artist, South Africa; Riason Naidoo, South African National Gallery (SANG), Cape Town; Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University; John Peffer, Ramapo College; Lowery Stokes Sims, Museum of Arts and Design; Vuyile Voyiya, artist, South Africa; Sue Williamson, artist, South Africa

Also in attendance: Mitra Abbaspour, MoMA; Pamela Allara, Boston University; Lisa Binder, Museum for African Art; Yaëlle Birro, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Jan Cheifitz, New York; Christa Clarke, Newark Museum; Gwen Farrelly, MoMA; Starr Figura, MoMA; Laura Hoptman, MoMA; Amy Horschak, MoMA; Fritha Langerman, Michaelis School of Fine Art, South Africa; Jay Levenson, MoMA; Christopher Lew, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1; Barbara London, MoMA; Glenn Lowry, MoMA; Leora Maltz-Leca, Rhode Island School of Design; Julie McGee, University of Delaware; Karen Milbourne, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian; Keith Moxey, Barnard College/Columbia University; Christine Mullen Kreamer, National Museum of African Art; Aidan O'Connor, MoMA; Jenny Schlenzka, MoMA; Cara Starke, MoMA; Josef Vascovitz, Seattle; Gary van Wyck and Lisa Britton, New Jersey


“Impressions from South Africa”: Content, Reception, Criticism
Moderator: Aruna D’ Souza
Jay Clarke, Vuyile Voyiya and Willie Cole

This discussion focused on the exhibition and issues related to organizing and presenting, as well as the repercussions for curatorial practice and future art historical study.

Curatorial Practice, Institutions, and Scholarship: Regional, Global, Alternative, and Beyond?
Moderator: Chika Okeke-Agulu
Riason Naidoo, Leslie King Hammond, Alisa LaGamma and Doryun Chong

Questions discussed: What are the spaces for the production and dissemination of contemporary “Africanart on the continent and abroad? How is the work of contemporary and modern African artists located/positioned in fine/modern/contemporary or encyclopedic art museums? How is work understood by curators/scholars/audiences at home and abroad? What models have emerged to deepen our understanding and art historical knowledge?

Modernism: Global? Multiple? Cosmopolitan?
Moderator:  Natasha Becker
Lowery Stokes Sims, John Peffer and Erin Haney

This discussion was directed at cross-cultural discourse about art and modernist art history in particular: How do art history and exhibitions engage with difference and the history of the dynamic interplay between different cultures in the twentieth century? What has the critical exploration of relationships between Europe and Africa contributed to our historical understanding of cultural difference in the visual arts? In a world where multiculturalism, globalization, and contemporaneity have become common, what unanswered questions remain?

Contemporary Connections: Artistic Practice
Moderator: Judy Hecker
Chika Okeke-Agulu, Sue Williamson, Senzeni Marasela and Dan Leers

A discussion of flourishing creative scenes—and surge of interest—in several African centers, including Johannesburg/Cape Town, Lagos, Bamako, Dakar, and Luanda; the disciplines of photography, performance, and media, along with painting, sculpture, and works on paper.  Participants considered the transnational, diasporic and global links among/with these centers, and how the surge of interest in the work of contemporary African artists has recast the theoretical arguments pertaining to contemporary art in general.

*Interested in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now, March 23–August 29, 2011, please click here.