Looking Both Ways

Released March 11, 2004


Looking Both Ways: Contemporary Artists from Africa March 27—June 20, 2004

Salem, MA
— In Looking Both Ways: Contemporary Artists from Africa, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents the work of twelve artists originally from Africa who now live and work in Western countries, influenced by diverse cultural experiences. Addressing themes of migration, assimilation, exclusion, and identity, this exhibition examines the relationships between shifting physical contexts, emotional geographies, ambition, and freedom of expression. Organized by Laurie Ann Farrell, Curator at the Museum for African Art, NY, this exhibition continues the Peabody Essex Museum’s commitment to showcase international contemporary art. PEM is the first venue of its national and international tour. Looking Both Ways: Contemporary Artists from Africa will be on view at PEM from March 27—June 20, 2004.

John Grimes, Deputy Director for Research, New Media, and Information at the Peabody Essex Museum, notes, “We live in a world of rapid movement and change: people are mobile, ideas and images flash across the internet, the built landscape itself morphs and changes dramatically in the course of our lives. How is the identity of individuals, families, and communities maintained in the face of massive change? Are we, and should we be, tethered to memories of the past, or to places that are, for us, no longer home? These and related questions increasingly affect everyone on earth. Looking Both Ways brings together a group of artists for whom these issues are daily realities—not only in their artistic expression, but in the way they themselves are perceived and labeled.”

The exhibition both introduces a new generation of emerging artists and highlights artists who are established within the international African art community, but who may not be known to the museum-going public in the United States. The artists featured in the exhibition, who now live and work in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, use everything from their own bodies to video, sculpture, installation art, photography, painting, and drawings and prints to examine a challenging array of subjects: portraying psychological landscapes, defining one’s place through material culture, and the assimilation into or exclusion from Western culture. Wall texts incorporating artists’ quotes provide a complementary interpretive narrative, while a website, “Looking at Looking Both Ways,” offers new and varied ways of discussing the works of contemporary artists of African descent.

Looking Both Ways was organized by Laurie Ann Farrell, Curator at the Museum for African Art, New York. Farrell has worked on many exhibitions, including Material Differences: Art and Identity in Africa, 2002; Bamana: The Art of Existence in Maili, 2001; In the Presence of Spirits, 2000; and Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa, 1999. She publishes regularly on the subject of contemporary African art and has written and presented scholarly papers at juried conferences.

The list of participating artists includes: Fernando Alvim. Born in Angola, lives in Brussels. New commissions and existing work Ghada Amer. Born in Egypt, lives in New York City. New and existing works Olad鬩 Bamgboyé® Born in Nigeria, lives in London. New installation commission Allan deSouza. Born in Kenya, lives in Los Angeles. New and existing works Kendell Geers. Born in South Africa, lives in Brussels. New installation commission Moshekwa Langa. Born in South Africa, lives in Amsterdam. New commissions Hassan Musa. Born in Sudan, lives in Domessargues, France. New and recent works N’Dilo Mutima. Born in Angola, lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Existing works Wangechi Mutu. Born in Kenya, lives in New York City. New commissions Ingrid Mwangi. Born in Kenya, lives in Ludwigshafen, Germany. New and existing works Zineb Sedira. Born in Paris, lives in London. New and existing works Yinka Shonibare. Born in London, lives in London. New installation commission A wide variety of public programs for adults and children complements the exhibition, including tours, talks, films, music, storytelling, and a cooking and dining session. The exhibition is also enhanced by the exhibition catalogue, articles, and other books related to Looking Both Ways, available to visitors in PEM’s Chat and Relax areas.

The media sponsor for Looking Both Ways: Contemporary Artists from Africa is Phoenix Media Communications. Additional support has been provided by: AFAA, the British Council, ɴant Donn鳺.  The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art,  Funda磯 Calouste Gulbenkian, Goethe Institut, The Mondriaan Foundation, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

About the Museum for African Art - The Museum for African Art is the only independent museum in the United States dedicated to African art and culture. The Museum celebrates the majesty and wonder of the rich, varied and diverse cultures of the African continent through a wide variety of exhibitions and public programming.


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April Swieconek  -  Director of Public Relations  -  978-745-9500 X3109  -

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Director of Communications  -  978-542-1828  -

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