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Upcoming conference to examine African visual culture

ATHENS, Ohio (April 18, 2005) -- Students, scholars and educators will gather for a conference on African visual culture at Ohio University April 22-23. The conference, entitled "Visual Cultures, African Cities/Now," will examine how visual culture is produced, interpreted and consumed in contemporary urban Africa. Ohio University's African Studies Program will host the conference which will be convened by Joanna Grabski, assistant professor of Art History at Denison University.

Cities in Africa, like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, are intensely visual environments. In Dakar as in Nairobi, in Johannesburg as in Lagos, the urban terrain is a visual phenomenon that includes paintings and sculptures, modernist architecture and public monuments, clothing and fashion, as well as printed and electronic media such as cartoons, advertisements, video, television, and the Internet. Conference convener Grabski has researched urban visual culture since 1996 in Congo and Senegal.

"Because of the sheer number and diversity of people and resources and the fusion of local and global, African cities offer a dynamic and rich subject for exploration," said Grabski. She hopes the conference will increase appreciation of Africa's diverse visual forms and urban experience.

Featured speakers will come from across the United States, the African continent and Ohio University. On Saturday, April 23, conference presenters will include Mary Jo Arnoldi, curator of African ethnology and art in the anthropology department of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, who will speak about monuments in urban Mali. Allen Roberts, from the James Coleman African Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, will present on street murals in Senegal. Onookome Okome, from the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, will present "Audiences on City Streets: Witnessing with Video Audiences in Nigeria."

Senegalese artist Modou Dieng will present "Urban Itineraries from Saint Louis-Dakar-New York-San Francisco." Dieng has had numerous solo exhibitions in Senegal and was included in an exhibition at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Senegal. Dieng recently wasVail Visiting Artist at Denison University.

Ohio University Visiting Professor of History Olatunji Ojo will speak on the politics of art repression. Evan Mwangi, assistant professor of Anglophone African literature at Ohio University, will present about oral literature in urban movies in East Africa.

Workshop sessions will take place in Mitchell Auditorium, Siegfred Hall.

Interested community members are welcome to attend conference sessions. For more information please contact workshop coordinator Nana Owusu-Kwarteng at (740) 597-1368 or view the schedule online at www.ohio.edu/afrchild/visual-cultures.cfm.  

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Media Contact: Assistant Director of the Institute for the African Child Nana Owusu-Kwarteng, (740) 597-1368 or owusu-kw@ohio.edu

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