Okwui Enwezor

Aretha Franklin performing at the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, January 20, 2009.


1 The inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama A year ago, my contribution to Artforum’s annual rite of taking stock of the immediate past ended with a wish to see the transformation of candidate Obama into President Obama. In that wish lay my hope for what Giorgio Agamben might call the coming American community—or, to use the terms favored by the candidate himself, for a more perfect and equal union. No event of this entire year, and perhaps no event for years to come, could rival the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as America’s first postcolonial commander in chief. It was a wondrous scene to witness: Americans, with the eyes of the world on them, both watching and taking part in an epoch-making event—the son of a Kenyan foreign student becoming the country’s forty-fourth president.

2 The King is dead, long live the King: the apotheosis of

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