Thursday, 2 August 2007

Art Evening at Jack Shainman Gallery

In the colour line curated by Donald Odita
Sent in by Nigerian Artist Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
In The Colour Line
exhibition curated by the Nigerian artist/curator Odili Donald Odita, opened on July 4 at Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea, New York. The show had made the final shortlist of proposals for the African Pavilion at the ongoing Venice Biennale. I had left Omi Village, Ghent, near Hudson in Columbia County where I had been participating in the Art Omi International Artists Residency Program, on the invitation of Olu Oguibe one of the exhibiting artists. It was an evening of sprawling guests and great works of art. It was funny to me at the opening because it reminded me of a show I saw at Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town last year.
Installation view(culled from gallery website)
The exhibition stylishly titled Distant Relatives/Relative Distance, sought to reunite Diasporan artists with double allegiance - one to Africa and, to their operating base in the major metropolises of the West (read as Diaspora) - and the continent. Except I am mistaking, it was intended to showcase international artists with renown; whose practices and affirmations are contrived in the metropolises of Euro-America but who could claim some roots in the African continent. This show in my opinion however, created distortions and “dis-relations,” which it had tasked itself to resolve. Taiye Tuakli-Wosornu in her essay published in The Lip, refers to this group of artists as “Afropolitans.” It is quite coincidental that some of the artists in this present show were part of the Distant Relatives/Relative Distance exhibition in Cape Town and Johannesburg last year. This includes the curator, Odili Donald Odita.

Installation view (culled from gallery website)

Odili Donald Odita proposes the present show as an attempt at investigating the relationship between the exhibiting artists and their “aesthetic inquiry with Africa and its Diaspora.” He further explains that the exhibition considers the intricate circumstances of African identity within a global context. This, more or less to me, is exemplified by the new buzz word coined by Taiye Tuakli-Wosornu. I tried to point out this connection between the In The Colour Line and Distant Relatives/Relative Distance

Olu Oguibe, Game, 2007
Present at the opening were curators, critics, artists and art writers. Among them were Koan-Jeff Baysa (physician/curator/critic) whose most recent curatorial project is d’Asie d’Afrique, who I had met the previous day at Art Omi when he was on Studio visit. There was also Gabbi Ngcobo, the curator of Transcape Biennale in South Africa, and numerous others.

Artists in the exhibition
were Tiong Ang,Radcliffe Bailey,Christiaan Bastiaans, Bili Bidjocka,Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Nick Cave, J'un Ulrick Desert, Kira Lynn Harris,Fred Holland, Rashid Johnson, Remy Jungerman, Kerry James Marshall, Nzingah Muhammad, Senga Nengudi, Mario Cravo Neto, Olu Oguibe, Senam Okudzeto, Orgacom, Carl Pope, Miguel Angel Rios, Stephen Hobbs & Marcus Neustetter / The Trinity Session, Stanley Whitney

smooth and olu, smooth, gabi and simone


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