Inspiration Second International Conference at Makerere University

Inspiration Interdisciplinary Center for Art and Social Change, Makerere University, Kampala

2nd International Conference

November 16th 2017

The Future of Contemporary Art in Africa in a Globalized Art World

 

Background

In 2016, Makerere University and Inspiration Arts for Humanity collaborated in order to establish a new interdisciplinary center for art and social change at Makerere University. Through this initiative, the partnering agencies aim towards the advancement of the professional development of artists, social activists, students and volunteers participating in its conferences, courses, workshops and seminars. The activities of the center emphasize on some of the largest core issues of international development through the implementation of its strategy of artistic, creative, social and ethical leadership. Through its activities, the center challenges the current limits of interdisciplinary work in the areas of art, culture, social sciences, international relations and -development and related fields. 

 

About The Conference

The curatorial project of the 56th Biennale in 2015 was assigned to Okwui Enwezor, the Biennale’s first curator of African descent. Under the title, All the World’s Futures, Enwezor’s curatorial project was devoted to the complex phenomenon of globalization in relation to local roots. This was an opportunity for Enwezor to push many artists from African origin to the foreground, but what made their art ‘African‘? Is there any importance for ‘local roots’ in a universal art world that creates an illusion of “placeless” artistic values? And, how free are African artists to create ‘African’ artistic futures based on their own roots when they are confined mainly to the Western art market and other Western art institutions?

Since the early days of interest in African artworks, all actors of the Western art world had an important role in the construction of knowledge and the development of a ‘taste’ for African art. Furthermore, today’s art world, which focuses on the institutional contexts in which the arts are created, sponsored, exhibited, interpreted, taught, criticized and so forth, overlooks numerous artistic expressions around the continent. These artistic expressions proclaim their own importance in the lives of large numbers of African people, but are considered to be “lower” forms of art, often related to as tourist or popular arts. That is to say that the Western bound art world has the power to decide the value of an artwork and who is the artist worthy of entering the ‘gates’ of the global contemporary art world.

What is the impact of these asymmetrical power structures on the artistic creativity in Africa? Can African artists produce sustainable art for their own societies and what impact does the interest in African Contemporary Art have on the self-esteem of the artists, artists-communities and the local citizens?

 Finally, how can the current interest be used to promote social issues, and perhaps even stimulate social change? Is the interest of the global art world, at the end of the day, even an opportunity to change the Global North’s single story narrative of Africa? 

 

Submission of Proposals

Proposals should not exceed 300 words; include a short bio of 100 words maximum and be sent to: anna-lisa@inspirationarts.org         
By: Sunday, October 8th 2017  
Please note that speakers will not receive any funds. Accommodation and transportation to and from the conference can be provided at cost for foreign speakers.

 

About the Partners

Inspiration Arts for Humanity

Built on the foundations of artistic excellence, social activism and community engagement, Inspiration develops a strategy that emphasizes on some of the largest core issues of contemporary international development through a unique strategy of artistic, creative, social and ethical leadership. Its vision is deep-rooted in the universal language of art, which expands and deepens our capacity for growth, supports progress in conflict-resolution, empowers individuals and addresses social issues while providing new opportunities for expression and dialogue.

Guided by values of artistic excellence, social responsibility and humanism, Inspiration is a unique institution, the epicenter of the working knowledge incorporated into a movement of individuals, groups, organizations and businesses around the world working together to promote art as the lifeblood of a more collaborative, understanding and peaceful world.

 

Makerere University Kampala

Established in 1922 as a humble technical school, Makerere University is one of the oldest and most prestigious Universities in Africa. Over the years, Makerere University has been growing both in student numbers to over 35,000 (45% of whom are female). Makerere University has repositioned herself as a research-led university where research and teaching/learning are mutually reinforced. Research is strategically emphasized as a mechanism through which Makerere University has become a locus of scientific innovations and discoveries.

It is currently ranked third in Africa in research, and aspires to be the leading institution for academic excellence and innovations in Africa, with a mission to provide innovative teaching learning, research and services responsive to national and global needs.

 

Guest Partner – The African Studies Gallery

The African Studies Gallery is an innovative and unique exhibition space. Located in the heart of Tel Aviv, the gallery strives to stimulate critical thinking and to challenge our conventional understanding of Africa as a cultural entity. Through exhibitions and cultural events we shall be seeking to present to the public the rich and varied cultures of Africa in the hope that the gallery and its activities will bridge people and cultures. The African Studies Gallery is not a commercial gallery, focusing instead on examining art, cultures and the way we view cultures that are different to our own, encouraging discussions, inquisitiveness and understanding. Each exhibition takes on a slightly different format, and often includes more than one artist focusing around a central theme or idea. The curatorship of the gallery aims to allow the public, and not only those with extensive knowledge of African art and culture, an opportunity to access and be exposed to such wonderful heritages.