Magazine article Artforum International

"A Fiction of Authenticity": Contemporary Art Center St. Louis

Magazine article Artforum International

"A Fiction of Authenticity": Contemporary Art Center St. Louis

Article excerpt

This exhibition of newly commissioned artwork by eleven African artists born between 1956 and 1976 and working in Europe or the United States inaugurates this institution's new building and, presumably, higher profile. The curators--Shannon Fitzgerald of the Contemporary and Tumelo Mosaka of New York's Brooklyn Museum--"seek to analyze constructions of perceptions (fictions) about what constitutes an authentic Africa ... and to what extent one's Africanness is expressed, understood, exploited, and relevant in contemporary global culture."

Siemon Allen (born in South Africa, lives in Washington, DC) focuses in on the view from elsewhere. He's assembled two years of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, mounted it on the wall, and covered it with tracing paper, except for the rare but predictable (AIDS, Mandela) articles on South Africa. Other artists grapple with their identity as Africans abroad: Fatma Charfi's Suisse du Sud, Expo 03, 2003, is made up of innumerable aberics (the word means "humans" in Arabic), tiny figures twisted from black, white, and red tissue and installed in small or large jumbles. Though they're standins for her multiple identity as an Arab from North Africa living in Switzerland, these simple creatures also suggest the fragility of individuals of all kinds. And London-based Zineb Sedira, Paris-born of Algerian parents, presents video and photographs of her Arabic-speaking mother, Arabic- and French-speaking father, and English-speaking daughter that provide a moving window on Algerian colonial history as lived out within a single family. …

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