Art and Cultural Identity Speaker Series

Sponsored by the Center for Peace & Global Citizenship, the Hurford Humanities Center, the Distinguished Visitors Program, and the Department of Fine Arts.

In association with Carol Solomon’s Art and Cultural Identity course, Haverford College Center for Peace & Global Citizenship and The Hurford Humanities Center are sponsoring a series of public lectures by visiting artists. Art and Cultural Identity is an interdisciplinary examination of the issues, with texts by Bhabha, Fanon, Hail, Said, and others. Concepts discussed in the course include exile, displacement, diaspora, alienation, transnationalism, hybridity, and cosmopolitanism. Topics of discussions include cultural imperialism, orientalism, and cultural property debates.

I/Eye: Zoulikha Bouabdellah

Video and installation artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah was born in Russia in 1977 to Algerian parents. Raised in Algiers, she moved to Paris in 1994 where she was awarded degrees from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Cergy-Paris in 2000 and 2002. Bouabdellah has had solo shows in Europe, Africa, and North America and her work has been featured in several major international exhibitions including, in 2007, the 52nd Venice Biennale (African Pavilion). Her art focuses on issues of national and transnational identity, gender, and religion.

Afronauts and the Liminal Space: Daniel Kojo

Daniel Kojo creates works in series using motifs originating from various cultural contexts. Combined with purely gestural, non-representational elements, these motifs—fragments of figures, letters, words, texts—are used as ciphers of identity. As each series progresses, the artist repeats and transforms the motifs that have become his personal iconic archive. Among his major cycles are Afronauts and Brother Beethoven.

“Afronauts,” the artist explains, “are dislocated characters who create and control their own image spaces, where they claim the power to define themselves and to re-negotiate identity ascriptions. They appear, drawn or painted, in a kind of space suit and various head coverings (helmets, hats, caps) based loosely on Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, a Jamaican record producer and musician who used to perform in a similar outfit. Their figurative presence generates disturbances in what is primarily a homogeneous way of painting, and it transforms my work into what has been called ‘painting from the spaces in between.’ I place such figures in the tradition of the Ghanaian trickster ‘Anansi the Spider’ and his modern equivalents ‘Felix the Cat,’ ‘El Ahrairah,’ and ‘Wile E. Coyote’.”

Kojo began the Brother Beethoven series in 1999 “as an effort to lay claim to an ‘icon’ of Western high culture: in addressing Beethoven as ‘brother,’ the famed composer—whom we now know to have descended from a grandmother from the former Dutch colonies—is displaced into the context of the Black diaspora, highlighting the hybridity inherent in what was traditionally defined as ‘White’ culture.”

Reflections on the Black Atlantic: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Of Nigerian descent, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons was born and raised in Cuba in the small sugar plantation town of La Vega in the province of Matanzas. In 1976, she enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana and then studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte, also in Havana. She first came to the United States in 1988 as an exchange student at the Massachusetts College of Art and settled permanently in Boston in 1991. Since 1997, she has taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Campos-Pons sometimes uses her own body as a subject. Variously painted, marked, or otherwise adorned, she draws upon the traditions of Yoruba and Afro-Cuban religious ritual in the exploration of the rootedness and rootlessness of her displaced identity.