So whats new?, Wonders Rasheed Araeen.
Why are diasporan Africans fighting for a Venice pie? I haven’t read the letter of Okwui Enwezor and Salah Hassan but what Olu Oguibe says is the same story. They all want the same thing: how they can package Africa and sell it to the west. There is no concern for the basic work of theory and art history, for which one needs serious scholarship that require hard work, both physically and intellectually. Without this mediative discourse whatever Africa produces as art becomes like any other commodity without any profound meaning or significance. That is why an institute within Africa that supports and finances independent research work and scholarship is extremely important. But most African intellectuals are only interested in the rhetoric of exclusion and inclusion. When the west kept the doors closed to African artists, they shouted abuses against the west; and now when the doors are open, everyone is full of praise for the very system which was once Eurocentric. No one wants to think why were the doors once closed and why are they now open. Are we now in a better position to understand what has Africa contributed to art not only in terms of its (African) particularity but, most importantly, its universality? Rasheed Araeen is an artist, writer and founding editor of Third Text Originally published on www.asai.co.za (October 17, 2006). Reprinted with permission