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Okwui Enwezor. Photo: Jeff Weiss.
Okwui Enwezor. Photo: Jeff Weiss.

Marian Goodman Gallery and ICI Launch Emerging Curator Initiative Honoring Okwui Enwezor

Marian Goodman Gallery has announced an initiative in support of emerging BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) curators and honoring the late curator Okwui Enwezor. The initiative, conceived of by artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen, is in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI) and will aid ICI’s professional development programs and research fellowships, with the goal of empowering and sustaining a more diverse generation of curators, and of forging collaborative networks among curators, artists, and art spaces internationally.

The Nigerian-born Enwezor, who died in 2019 at the age of fifty-five, was a titan in the art world, widely known for his tireless championing of African art; for challenging the established Eurocentric art narrative by bringing the work of African, Asian, and Latin American artists into predominantly Western institutions; and for embracing a global perspective that opened countless doors for new voices and critical inquiry in the curatorial field.

“Okwui was always thinking about the future, always thinking ahead in order to create a healthier environment for all, no matter what the challenges were or what he, as a pioneer, came up against. This initiative is very much in his spirit, championing innovators in a field that he reinvented,” said McQueen.

The first phase of the initiative will see ICI developing a curatorial intensive in Africa in which twelve to fourteen participants are provided with the critical and logistical tools needed to develop and realize their ideas, and with access to continued learning, mentorship, and peer-support opportunities. Additionally, ICI will make available annually for the next three years two curatorial research fellowships for US-based BIPOC curators and for curators of African descent based anywhere in the world. The fellowships encourage independent research study toward the development of a curatorial project and to this end provide mentorship, financial support, and travel opportunities, with the goal of helping early- to midcareer professionals to advance their practice and develop new knowledge in contemporary art.

“I hope with all my heart that this initiative can help to bring about a shift,” said Marian Goodman, who operates spaces in New York and Paris. “As the gallery navigates these momentous times, it is important to start to address the imbalance and injustice that is embedded in the gallery and museum system.”