previews

Rome

“African Metropolis: An Imaginary City”

MAXXI - Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo
Via Guido Reni 4A
June 22 - October 21

Curated by Simon Njami with Elena Motisi

In conjunction with the second Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference this June, Rome’s MAXXI museum is hosting “African Metropolis: An Imaginary City,” an exhibition of some forty-five works, primarily by celebrated and emerging African artists. Organized by the Paris-based curator Simon Njami and MAXXI’s own Elena Motisi, it follows previous programs at the institution that have examined Mediterranean cities. But what to make of the title? The curators’ challenges will be to justify their imposition of a municipal lens onto an entire continent and to incorporate the diverse realities of discrete African metropolises. No doubt the range of artists—including Meschac Gaba, Mimi Cherono Ng’ok, Pascale Marthine Tayou, and James Webb—is impressive. But a show that intends to present Africa and African creativity in its totality—through the words of Roland Barthes and Jacques Rancière, no less—could be either fantastic or bombastic. Which will this one be? Let’s hope that catalogue contributions from Hou Hanru, Sumesh Sharma, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and Marco Scotini will provide necessary elaborations on the complications of continental curation.