Siona O’Connell and Curate Africa at RISD
The Division of Liberal Arts is proud to announce its collaboration with Dr. Siona O’Connell from the University of Cape Town on “Curate Africa.” Described as “one of the most significant art projects on Africa for many years,” Curate Africa is a major project of photography and curation, encompassing the whole of Africa. It makes use of new technology to allow new approaches to how we think about Africa and sets out to mark a departure from histories of representation concerned with African people, places and realities.
Dr. O’Connell (Ph.D. in Visual Studies, MFA with distinction in Photography from UCT) is a Senior Curator at the Centre for Curating the Archive at UCYT. She has been a lecturer at the Centre for African Studies and a curator of the Centre for African Studies Gallery. She is a Trilateral Reconnections Project Fellow and a BIARI (Brown International Advanced Research Institute) alumnus. Her work around archives and curation seeks to shift frames from aesthetics to restorative justice to open up questions around representation, freedom, trauma and memory in the aftermath of oppression. Her projects include working with clothing and textile workers in South Africa as well as an exhibition on the photographs of Edward C. Curtis and Alfred Duggan-Cronin. Her work takes the family photograph as an archive for thinking about the ways in which the lives of oppressed people both resisted and yet were shaped by the various violences of the apartheid regime.
Dr. O’Connell is on campus in February and March 2013 collaborating with Bolaji Campbell (Associate Professor, History of Art + Visual Culture) in his “Contemporary African Art” course, and is working with groups of students from RISD and the African Studies Unit, the Centre for Curating the Archive, Michaelis School of Fine Art on the first output of the project – the curated online exhibition. Students will be soliciting images, working with historical collections that have been digitally borrowed from institutions around the world, and virtually working together on curating the first theme – which at this stage, is loosely based around the notion of “Play”. The go-live date is May 25, 2013 — significant as it is Africa Day. The Division of Liberal Arts is in discussion with the Museum to organize a screening of the exhibition in RISD’s Chace Center lobby on the go-live date.