History of Art and Architecture

Koyo Kouoh: Institution Building as Curatorial Practice

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 6:00pm

Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

University of Pittsburgh


For many countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, cultural production was historically co-opted by the state in anti-colonial struggles and post-colonial nation building, paving the way for decades of tension between private initiatives and government mechanisms. The situation has changed but hardly for the better, with many states neglecting the financial and infrastructural needs of their country’s cultural landscapes. Yet within this void, the last twenty years have born witness to the flourishing of independent, non-commercial art centers across these zones. In developing an expanded curatorial practice that embraces the institution as form, in contexts where aesthetics and knowledge production often escape Western paradigms, such spaces allow for new understandings of the potential of arts organizations as well as the relationship between art and life.

Koyo Kouoh is the founding artistic director of RAW Material Company, a center for art, knowledge and society in Dakar, Senegal. She was the curator of  1:54 FORUM, the educational programme at the Contemporary African Art Fair in London and New York. She served in the curatorial teams for documenta 12 (2007) and documenta 13 (2012). Kouoh has served as curatorial advisor for documenta 12 (2007) and 13 (2012), co-curated Les Rencontres de la Photographie Africaine in Bamako in 2001 and 2003, and collaborated in different capacities with the Dakar Biennial. Specializing in photography, video and art in the public space, she has curated numerous exhibitions internationally and written on contemporary African art. Her discursive programs, exhibitions and publications have included contemporary artists, thinkers, photographers, writers, activists, non-artists, designers, collectors, politicians, architects, curators and chefs. She lives and works in Dakar.

For Carnegie International, 57th edition, 2018, Koyo Kouoh is participating with Dig Where You Stand, an exhibition within the exhibition based on the Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection.

Introduced by Ingrid Schaffner and sponsored by the History of Art and Architecture Department as part of Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; University Center for International Studies; Global Studies Center; and Carnegie Museum of Art.

Free public lecture.