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Africa in the 1980s: the University of Bayreuth's Iwalewahaus opens a new exhibition

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 046/2018, 3 April 2018

Starting on 28 April 2018, a new exhibition entitled "Feedback: Art, Africa and the 1980s" will be on display in the University of Bayreuth's Iwalewahaus. It develops a picture of Africa in the 1980s based on historical and contemporary perspectives. Artistic visions of the time as well as of the present shed light on the social, political, and economic realities of this eventful and emotional decade. The exhibition will be on display until 30 September 2018.

Media representatives and the general public are invited to attend the opening (admission is free of charge):

Date: Friday, 27 April 2018
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Iwalewahaus, (corner of Wölfelstr. / Münzgasse) in Bayreuth

Some of the items on display were provided by the Makerere Art Gallery in Kampala, Uganda, one of the most prominent institutional art collections in Africa. Video artist Theo Eshetu, who received international attention in 2016 for his reflections on global and national identity at the documenta in Kassel in 2016, also contributed to the exhibition.

The 1980s in Africa were characterized by protests, civil war, coups, dictatorships, and famine. It was not unusual for economic and political experiments to have catastrophic consequences, and a doomsday mentality spread through many areas. A number of African countries became pawns in conflicts that could be traced back to the Cold War. However, the 1980s were also a time of cultural mobilization: artists began addressing the wrongdoings of post-colonial states. Reflections on globalization, international mobility, and increasing urbanization became increasingly critical, and new utopias appeared. The everyday lives of the people became a key subject in artists' works. For this reason, the exhibition addresses the following question: How can the history of post-colonial African art be told such that the 1980s play a central role? How can this decade be understood as a link between the post-colonial modernity of the 1960s and 1970s and the dynamic contemporary art of the 1990s?

The emphasis of "Feedback: Art, Africa and the 1980s" is on artistic developments in Nigeria, Senegal, DR Congo, South Africa, and Kenya. At the same time, the exhibition also reflects on the history of the Iwalewahaus, which was founded in 1981: in the 1980s, it was one of the only institutions in the world dedicated to modern and contemporary African art.

The curator of the new exhibition is Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi of the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. Originally from Nigeria, in 2014 he was a member of the curator team for the Dakar Biennale (one of the most important international contemporary art exhibitions). He will now be carrying out his research on African modernity at the Iwalewahaus.

"Feedback: Art, Africa and the 1980s" is a collaboration with the Museum of World Cultures in Frankfurt and the Makerere Art Gallery in Kampala, Uganda. The research project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation in the scope of the its funding initiative "Research in Museums".

For additional information on the exhibition:


The Iwalewahaus is open Monday—Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.; admission is 5 euros (reduced ticket price: 3 euros). Admission is free of charge on the first Sunday of each month.

Press Relations:

Samanea Karrfalt
Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth
Wölfelstrasse 2
95444 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 55-4514
E-mail: presse-iwalewa@uni-bayreuth.de

Editorial Office:

Christian Wißler
Press Contacts
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30 / ZUV
95447 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356

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