n De Arte - The efficacy of altermodern cross-border concepts in selected contemporary African artworks : a visual investigation : research

Volume 2014 Number 89
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Altermodernism is a global theory created by French art critic and curator, Nicolas Bourriaud. This theory argues that contemporary art illustrates cross-border interactions and portrays global environments; it uses concepts such as alterglobalisation, hypermobility, cultural hybridisation, cultural nomadism, diaspora and displacement. This article provides a critique of the efficacy of these altermodern cross-border concepts in selected contemporary African artworks. The value of these concepts is examined by measuring them against related cultural theories by Arjun Appadurai (2006), Manuel Castells (1999), Geoffrey Pleyers (2010) and Jan Nederveen Pieterse (2006). The article also investigates the state of contemporary African art by visually analysing the narrative of the aftermath of colonialism on the continent, as evident in selected artworks displayed at three prominent art exhibitions: the 'Africa Remix' (2007), the 'Dak' Art Biennial' (2012) and the 'FNB Joburg Art Fair' (2013). Central to this study are postcolonial topics such as anticolonial nationalism, diaspora and refugees. The selected artworks are analysed in line with the theories of the following critics and curators: Okwui Enwezor (1999, 2008a, 2008b), Simon Njami (2007), Achille Mbembe (1992, 2007), Chika Okeke (2001) and Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000). The conclusion of this analysis proposes a paradox: several selected African artworks relate to altermodernism superficially; however, the study also identifies a gap between altermodernism and the postcolonial context of the selected artworks.

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