EAHR RESEARCH RESIDENCY: DIVERSIFYING ACADEMIA AT CONCORDIA
In Collaboration with the Concordia Library.
Made possible with the support of Concordia’s Department of Art History.
Researcher-in-Residence 2018: Chelsy Monie
Residency Founder & Coordinator: Kimberly Glassman
Art History Librarian Supervisor: Jenna Dufour
The current vitrine exhibit, Art & Africa: Africans as Critical Producers and Consumers of Art, proudly displays the results of the first-ever EAHR Research Residency: Diversifying Academia at Concordia organized by Concordia's Ethnocultural Art Histories Research Group (EAHR). An annotated bibliography was completed over the summer by Concordia undergraduate student Chelsy Monie, as an extensive open source reference tool that promotes critical engagement with issues of ethnic and cultural representation within the visual arts, further instigating a conversation that opens up fundamental spaces for communities that are often misrepresented and/or erased. Monie specifically focused on locating these critical spaces for Africans in art history and demonstrating that Africans are both the creators and consumers of their own art practices.
Accompanying the bibliography on display is a photographic series entitled, Voiceless Utterance (2018) created by Monie as an artistic response to her research during her residency. The series brings together nine women from across the African continent to represent the ‘new’ Venus, one that is far from her typical position as an archetypal symbol of the ideal - the supposed pinnacle of classical Western femininity. By digitally smearing away their mouths, the artist does not remove their voices, but instead emphasizes their silence. Their erotic bodies simultaneously repel and attract viewers, inviting visitors to think critically about the consumption of contemporary African artistic creations in spaces that are fundamentally Western.
Quotes excerpted from “Portrait of the Artist in the Shadow of Discourse: Narrating Modern African Art in 20th Century Art History” (2007) by Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie accompany the photographs. Coming from Nigeria, Ogbechie’s research focuses on the visual culture and art of Africa and its Diasporas, with an emphasis on the values granted to African cultures in the discourse of art history in the age of globalization. His text contextualizes the photographs within a critical discourse of art history that continuously undervalues and negates the works and practices of contemporary African artists. In so doing, Monie calls attention to how African creations are too often rendered voiceless, decontextualized, and misrepresented. Using the epitome of “classical” art, the reclining-nude Venus - whose body represents love, beauty, fertility, and sexuality - Chelsy Monie re-contextualizes a staple of canonical art history.
The full annotated bibliography will be available on the Concordia Library in the Art History Subject Guide as of Thursday, September 13th, 2018. The Residency program is set to recur annually each summer. If you are interested in participating, follow EAHR on Facebook and watch for their next call-out near the end of the Winter Term.
A speaker event also took place on August 30th, 2018 at the VAV Gallery, where the photographic series was first exhibited as part of their Resonance exhibition. Videos of the event will be available here soon.