Editor’s Note: Ekow Eshun is a British writer, broadcaster, and curator. All opinions expressed in this article belong to the author.
African art is having a vogue moment. People are very interested in it, but there’s still a sense of Africa and African art as something of an exotic “other” that sits on the periphery and not really at the center of dialogues and debate. However, it’s more important than ever to assert the position of Africa as a place that has something significant to say.
There’s a historical tendency to imagine Africa on the edge of history, cultural conversation, and global affairs. But across the continent, there’s a powerful interchange of ideas – about who we are and how we live – that hasn’t been truly globally recognized.
That’s changing. This year, Ghana made its debut at the Venice Biennale, the art world’s most important event, with an all-star pick of artists. Moments like this shift the narrative, from a position of exceptional otherness to a place where African artists are fully engaged in the dialogue of contemporary art.