P163
Urban artists with rural links: Contemporary art and social practice

Convenors:
Fiona Siegenthaler (University of Basel/University of Johannesburg)
Chair:
Fiona Siegenthaler
Format:
Panels
Location:
KH114
Start time:
1 July, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel aims at better understanding the link of urban-based artists in Africa to rural areas and related social and cultural practices. Presenters are required to reflect this connection and interchange on an elaborate theoretical level by including case examples.

Long abstract:

For two decades now, international research and exhibitions on contemporary African art have had a strong focus on urban art forms and expression. This is not without merit, contributing amongst other to an understanding of commonalities as much as differences in diverse urban contexts within as well as beyond the African continent, including diasporic connections of artists in metropolises all over the world. However, especially in visual art scholarship, it seems that ethnographers and art scholars have largely ignored the links of many urban artists to rural contexts. This means, an important part of social identity and affiliation was largely missed in the excitement about urban artistic expression. There are many reasons therefore to look more closely at the relationships of urban-based artists to rural areas. Many artists have clan and family ties to rural areas, some go 'home' during the festive season or for initiation and marriage celebrations, and many in fact reflect on aesthetics and cultural practices typical to rural life in their city-inspired work, at times adopting an ethnographic view on their home societies, opening up new and sophisticated perspectives on notions of identity and belonging. This call aims at better understanding the link of urban-based artists in Africa to rural areas and related social and cultural practices. Presenters are required to reflect this connection and interchange on an elaborate theoretical level by including case examples.