London

“Seven Stories About Modern Art In Africa”

Whitechapel Gallery

Exhibitions based on ethnic interpretations of multiculturalism that arise from the current fashion for curatorial globetrotting have mostly failed to advance an understanding of contemporary visual art from beyond the Western metropolis. In Britain, a glance at recent exhibition reviews touching on such themes as “New Art from China (or India, Cuba, etc.),” is enough to confirm the suspicion that the esthetic concerns of individual artists continue to be neglected in favor of redundant assumptions about ethnicity or poorly informed comparisons with Western Modernism. Why this continues to occur may seem puzzling, but one factor that must be taken into account is the impulse of some poorer nations to “exoticize” themselves in order to gain a stronger footing in the Western art market. While many exhibitions are quick to contextualize non-Western work with anthropological anecdotes, historical

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