Art department to host talk on African works

Event: Curatorial Talk by Alison Kearney, Ph.D., University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Date: September 4, 2018 (Tuesday)

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Location: Fitzelle 202

Title of Talk: Beyond the Readymade: Modernist Discourses and African Art

Dr. Alison Kearney will discuss the curatorial strategies employed in the exhibition she curated titled Beyond the Readymade currently on exhibition at Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa (13 June- 9 September 2018). The exhibition, which developed from Kearney’s doctoral research, is accompanied by a short catalogue and educational resource (see attachment). The exhibition consists of classical and contemporary African art works from the Wits Art Museum collection that include found objects. By exhibiting classical African artworks with contemporary works, the exhibition considers the ways in which found objects are part of a long global history of art making. There is, therefore, a need to move beyond the narrow understanding of the use of found objects as anti-art gestures of the historical and neo-avant-gardes. The exhibition explores the use of found objects as an artistic tool. It questions the importance and value of an object that can change over time. Furthermore, it examines the changing relationship of art to everyday life and considers how the meanings that are attached to objects affect our understanding of the artworks in which they are included. Through foregrounding the manner in which this contemporary exhibition includes both classical and contemporary African art, Dr. Kearney will explain how the exhibition challenges the primitivism inherent in modernist discourses of African art.

Kearney is an artist and art historian based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She obtained her Ph.D. in Art History (2016) from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg where she wrote her dissertationentitled Beyond Duchamp: Found Objects in Contemporary South African Art. She holds an M.F.A. (2005) and a B.FA. (2002), both achieved with distinction from Wits University. Dr. Kearney is Senior Lecturer (tenure track) in Arts Education and History of Art at Wits University. In July 2018, she was nominated as the incoming President of the South African Visual Arts Historians Association (SAVAH) and elected to the Editorial Board of the Taylor and Francis published South African Art History Journal De Arte. Dr. Kearney was a recipient of the Getty Foundation travel grant to attend the College Art Association (CAA) Annual Conference in Lost Angeles, California in February 2018, as well as the prestigious Ampersand Foundation Fellowship for a one-month residency in New York in August 2018. Her current research focusses on African Art that includes found objects, and the range of theoretical discourses surrounding the works such as notions of the distinction between art and life, the everyday in art, materiality, and the ways in which the legacy of the modernist avant-garde intersects with contemporary art making practices. All of these topics are linked in the way that they explore the field of art production and the status and meaning of objects in social life.

Event Contact: Pearlie Rose S. Baluyut, Ph.D., Art Department,