The New Museum

Friday, March 25, 7 p.m and Saturday, March 26,

Gabi Ngcobo’s Proposition imagines a pan-African biennial of contemporary art based on two models: Manifesta,the roaming European biennial of contemporary art; and the Africa Cup of Nations, a nomadic biannual soccer tournament. How do we reframe questions around biennials to consider the geographical scope of this continent alongside logistical challenges, linguistic and cultural divides, and uneven economic realities?

On March 26 at 2 p.m. Binyavanga Wainaina, Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Artists and Writers at Bard College, NY joins Ngcobo to speak about his experiences based on Pilgrimages, a project by the Achebe Center, in which fourteen prominent writers were sent on a guided pilgrimage to thirteen cities in Africa (and Salvador do Bahia, Brazil) during the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa.

Gabi Ngcobo is an independent curator based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her curatorial projects include “Second to None” at Iziko South African National Gallery, “Olvida quen soy/ Erase me from who I am” at CAAM, Canary Islands, Las Palmas 2006, “Titled/Untitled,” a curatorial collaboration with Cape Town based collective Gugulective and “Scratching the Surface Vol. 1,” a manje-manje projects initiative at the AVA Gallery, Cape Town. In 2010 she co-curated “rope-a-dope: to win a losing war” at Cabinet, New York, “Second Coming, a curatorial collaboration” at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. She recently co-founded the Center for Historical Reenactments, an independent platform based in Johannesburg, and curated “PASS-AGES: references & footnotes” at the old Pass Office, Johannesburg as well as an ongoing research project titled Xenoglossia. She is a graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Propositions is a public forum that explores ideas in development. Each two-day seminar introduces a topic of current investigation in an invited speaker’s own artistic or intellectual practice. Over the course of a seminar session, these developing ideas are responded to, researched, and discussed to propel them forward in unique ways. This month’s Proposition is by Gabi Ngcobo.

The structure of Propositions is as follows:

Friday, 7:00 PM – Initial proposition and lecture

Saturday, 2:00 PM – Guest speaker responds, followed by discussion with audience


Further Reading

Detritus of revolution

Nthikeng Mohlele’s novel Small Things (2013) provides a rejoinder to J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999), depicting a black man’s perspective on the failures of South Africa’s transition.

At the edge of sight

Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History is one of very few books to have come out of the continent about photography where the majority of contributors are African scholars.

Music is the weapon

During Christmas 1980, Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba performed at a concert in Lesotho that deeply challenged and disturbed South Africa’s apartheid regime. The record of that concert is being reissued.

Carceral colonialism

On the United Kingdom’s attempts to finance the construction of large-scale prison facilities in former colonies, to where it wants to deport undocumented migrants.

Fanon’s mission

The works of Frantz Fanon can be read as architectural renderings of rights, futures, and generations toward a “very different Afro-futurism.”

History time

The historical novel is in vogue across the continent, challenging how we conceive of the nation, and how we write its histories.