Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria

Duke University Press
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Written by one of the foremost scholars of African art and featuring 129 color images, Postcolonial Modernism chronicles the emergence of artistic modernism in Nigeria in the heady years surrounding political independence in 1960, before the outbreak of civil war in 1967. Chika Okeke-Agulu traces the artistic, intellectual, and critical networks in several Nigerian cities. Zaria is particularly important, because it was there, at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, that a group of students formed the Art Society and inaugurated postcolonial modernism in Nigeria. As Okeke-Agulu explains, their works show both a deep connection with local artistic traditions and the stylistic sophistication that we have come to associate with twentieth-century modernist practices. He explores how these young Nigerian artists were inspired by the rhetoric and ideologies of decolonization and nationalism in the early- and mid-twentieth century and, later, by advocates of negritude and pan-Africanism. They translated the experiences of decolonization into a distinctive "postcolonial modernism" that has continued to inform the work of major Nigerian artists.
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About the author

Chika Okeke-Agulu is an artist, curator, and Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Archaeology and the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. He is a coauthor of Contemporary African Art since 1980 and coeditor (with Okwui Enwezor and Salah M. Hassan) of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, also published by Duke University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Apr 6, 2015
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9780822376309
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / African
Art / Criticism & Theory
Art / History / Contemporary (1945-)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A critic takes issue with the art world's romanticizing of networks and participatory projects, linking them to the values of a globalized, neoliberal economy.

Over the past twenty years, the network has come to dominate the art world, affecting not just interaction among art professionals but the very makeup of the art object itself. The hierarchical and restrictive structure of the museum has been replaced by temporary projects scattered across the globe, staffed by free agents hired on short-term contracts, viewed by spectators defined by their predisposition to participate and make connections. In this book, Lane Relyea tries to make sense of these changes, describing a general organizational shift in the art world that affects not only material infrastructures but also conceptual categories and the construction of meaning.

Examining art practice, exhibition strategies, art criticism, and graduate education, Relyea aligns the transformation of the art world with the advent of globalization and the neoliberal economy. He analyzes the new networked, participatory art world—hailed by some as inherently democratic—in terms of the pressures of part-time temp work in a service economy, the calculated stockpiling of business contacts, and the anxious duty of being a “team player” at work. Relyea calls attention to certain networked forms of art—including relational aesthetics, multiple or fictive artist identities, and bricolaged objects—that can be seen to oppose the values of neoliberalism rather than romanticizing and idealizing them. Relyea offers a powerful answer to the claim that the interlocking functions of the network—each act of communicating, of connecting, or practice—are without political content.

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