UCLA African Studies Center Coleman Lecture: By Zina Saro-Wiwa

Andrew Apter's picture
June 29, 2020
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Fine Arts, Atlantic History / Studies


UCLA African Studies Center




The 2020 James S. Coleman Memorial Lecture

June 29, 4pm (PDT) ZOOM Webinar



Worrying the Mask

The Politics of Authenticity and Contemporaneity in the Worlds of African Art



Zina Saro-Wiwa

UCLA African Studies Center Artist-in-Residence



In this uniquely curated Performance-Lecture-Film, artist Zina Saro-Wiwa navigates the moral, philosophical and cultural conundrums that arise from the very existence of contemporary traditional African art. A large part of Saro-Wiwa’s artistic practice explores the masquerade traditions of Ogoniland, her ancestral ethnic group from the Niger Delta. Yet Saro-Wiwa’s hybrid identity has forced her to consider how African masks live both in the West and in Africa and how these African art worlds impact one another. In “Worrying the Mask,” Saro-Wiwa challenges the call for the restitution of African art by privileging storytelling over geographical location. She exposes the desires and limitations of Ogoni storytelling to ask whether an object can represent a people at all. And she elucidates how contemporaneity informs the genre of “contemporary traditional African art,” suggesting that our attempts to understand and explain it may require a radical ontological turn.


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Contact Info: 

Andrew Apter, Professor, Departments of History and Athopology, University of California, Los Angeles; Interim Director, James S. Coleman African Studies Center.  The purpose of this announcement is to invite scholars to register for our (free) James S. Coleman Memorial Lecture given by Ms. Zina Saro-Wiwa, via ZOOM Webinar, in the format of a performance-lecture-film followed by live Q and A.

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