The field of contemporary African and African diaspora art and culture is currently riddled by two paradoxes. First, in Africa and its diaspora, we are witnessing a burgeoning of creative energy and an increasing visibility of artists in the international arts arena. Yet, this energy and visibility has not been matched by a parallel regime of art criticism that lives up to the levels of their work. Second, we find a rising interest in exhibiting and collecting works by contemporary African and diaspora artists among Western museums as well as private and public collections. This growing interest, however, has been taking place within an extremely xenophobic environment of anti-immigration legislation, the closing of borders to the West, and a callous disregard for African and non-Western people’s lives. Hence, this essay addresses the need for an innovative framework that is capable of critically unpacking these paradoxes and that offers a critical analysis of contemporary African and African diaspora artistic and cultural production. In doing so, the author asserts the importance of movement, mobility, and transiency in addressing issues of contemporary African artistic and cultural production. This article focuses on the use of the term Afropolitan, which has made its way into African artistic and literary criticism as a crossover from the fashion and popular culture arenas. In thinking about the usefulness of “Afropolitanism,” the author revisits the notion of cosmopolitanism in relationship to the entanglement of Africa and the West and its reconfiguration at the intersection of modernity and postcoloniality.
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Research Article| May 01 2020
Contemporary African Art as a Paradox: Is “Afropolitan” the Answer?
Salah M. Hassan
Nka (2020) 2020 (46): 8–26.
Salah M. Hassan; Contemporary African Art as a Paradox: Is “Afropolitan” the Answer?. Nka 1 May 2020; 2020 (46): 8–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-8308138
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