Video Art and Africa

Katarzyna Falęcka, Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT)

Gabriella Nugent, UCL,

This session invites paper proposals that explore the deployment of video art by artists from Africa. Developed in the 1960s, video art emerged in the era of decolonisation, and its accessible technologies were later taken up by many people who had stories to tell. It is a medium of relative historical recentness and today favoured by artists operative in global contemporary networks. However, in comparison to the vast and growing literature on African cinema, there is relatively little scholarship on video art from Africa. This session seeks to explore how artists from Africa have specifically employed the languages enabled by video, such as montage, the loop, repetition and duration, to work through both the distant and more recent pasts in Africa.

We are particularly interested in video works that explore histories of colonialism, decolonisation and nation-building projects. The archival turn in art has led artists to rework historical documents through video to elucidate local experiences and to contest old and clichéd assumptions with something previously unthought, unheard or unseen. These practices raise questions as to who owns history and how historical documents can be performed within the distinct needs and expectations of the present. Simultaneously, video has stepped in to address feminist histories, questions of labour, race and class, as well as transregional alliances. The panel thus invites proposals for papers which explore the potential, as well as possible shortcomings, of video art for addressing these histories.

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