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Marian Goodman Gallery new initiative for BIPOC curators in Honor of the late Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor

Marian Goodman Gallery new initiative for BIPOC curators in Honor of the late Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor

Marian Goodman Gallery announced it will honor the late Okwui Enwezor with the launch of a new initiative, conceived by artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen, to create educational and research opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) curators with ICI.

A curator, art critic, writer, poet, and educator, Enwezor (1963-2019) championed the agency of African art, challenged the long-established narrative of European and North American art, and embraced a global perspective that opened countless doors for new voices and critical inquiry in the curatorial field. In this spirit, the initiative will empower emerging curators and support their thinking and practice.

“I hope with all my heart that this initiative can help to bring about a shift – and, of course, I wish that Okwui were still here to guide us,” said Marian Goodman. “As the gallery navigates these momentous times, it is important to start to address the imbalance and injustice that is embedded in the gallery and museum system. We are proud to partner with ICI to move towards these goals of change.”

“Okwui was always thinking about the future, always thinking ahead in order to create a healthier environment for all, no matter what the challenges were or what he, as a pioneer, came up against. This initiative is very much in his spirit, championing innovators in a field that he reinvented.” – Steve McQueen

Participants of the 2019 Curatorial Intensive in Cape Town, South Africa, organized in collaboration with the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town. Courtesy of Independent Curators International.

As part of the first phase of the Marian Goodman Gallery Initiative, ICI will develop one Curatorial Intensive in Africa and two Curatorial Research Fellowships every year for the next three years. The programs will empower and sustain a more diverse generation of curators, and forge collaborative networks among curators, artists, and art spaces internationally. 

The Curatorial Intensive is ICI’s professional development program for emerging curators. Each Intensive provides a group of 12–14 participants with the critical and logistical tools needed to develop and realize their ideas, and with access to continued learning, mentorship, and peer-support opportunities through ICI’s international network of curators. Since it was established in 2010, the Curatorial Intensive has provided a broader entry point into the field and served more than 450 curators. It has taken place in cities around the world and, since 2013, every year in Africa in collaboration with ICI partners: The Bag Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa; ZOMA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Dar al-Ma’mun in Marrakesh, Morocco; RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal; The Contemporary Art Foundation in Accra, Ghana; and Infecting the City at the UCT Institute for Creative Arts in Cape Town, South Africa.

This Spring, ICI will announce the first two Curatorial Research Fellowships for BIPOC curators based in the U.S. and curators of African descent based anywhere in the world. This will enable early-to-mid career professionals to advance their practice and develop new knowledge in contemporary art. ICI’s Fellowships encourage independent research study towards the development of a curatorial project and provide mentorship specific to the fellow’s needs, financial support, and travel opportunities.

ABOUT Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019)

He was the Director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, from 2011 to 2019, and his wide-ranging practice spanned international exhibitions, museums, academia, and publishing since the early 1990s.

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In 1994, with Chika Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan, he founded Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, which is published by Duke University Press. In 1998, he curated the 2nd Johannesburg Biennial, and from 1998 to 2002 he served as the artistic director of Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany. He also curated the 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, Spain (2005–7); the 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2008); the Triennale d’Art Contemporain de Paris at the Palais de Tokyo (2012); and the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures (2015).

From 2005 to 2009, he was Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at the San Francisco Art Institute. He also held positions as visiting professor in art history at the University of Pittsburg; Columbia University, New York; University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Umea University, Sweden; and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

He is the author or co-editor of numerous books, among them Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Bologna: Damiani, 2009), Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; London: INIVA, 1999), Mega Exhibitions: Antinomies of a Transnational Global Form (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2002), Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (New York: International Center of Photography; Göttingen: Steidl, 2008), and The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society (2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, 2006).