Archival Matters

Archival Matters
Curatorial Practice and the Postcolonial Archive | Christine Eyene and Renée Mussai.

The (colonial) archive has, in recent years, received significant critical attention from a number of different quarters. Scholars, curators and artists have taken the archive to task: as a critical site for posing questions about practices of colonial governance, or for thinking about the workings of colonialism and its afterlife, including the elision of the violence of its own operation and the silencing of the lives of colonized subjects. This seminar follows in this tradition, seeking to think against and along the archival grain, to uncover previously untold histories. Focusing on the work of several artists from Africa and the African diaspora, speakers will explore the necessary work that artistic and curatorial practices need to uncover, or even fashion, ‘other’ archives for those ‘forgotten’ histories. In the absence of conventional archives, they will ask what forms of imaginative labor must be mobilized to recuperate unexplored histories. More than the colonial archive, what might we imagine to constitute archives of the post-colonial?

Christine Eyene is an art historian, critic and curator. She is a Guild Research Fellow in Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire where she collaborates to Making Histories Visible, an interdisciplinary visual arts research project and archive based at UCLan’s Centre for Contemporary Art, led by Professor Lubaina Himid. She is also a doctoral student at Birkbeck, University of London, with Professor Annie E. Coombes, and is writing a thesis on the work of South African photographer George Hallett in relation to word, text, African literature and exploring the notion of image/material.
As an art writer, she has contributed articles and essays to art publications, exhibition catalogues and books. Her current exhibition, Murder Machine, as part of EVA International, Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art, revisits thoughts and writings by Irish linguist and activist Pádraig Pearse (1879-1916), who criticized the English educational system imposed on Ireland. The also project draws parallels with the African context through works by George Hallett and his collaboration with Heinemann African writers Series in the 1970s-80s, and The Otolith Group’s installation One Out Of Many Afrophilias (2014) a display of the first fifty issues of the literary magazine Transition.

Renée Mussai is Curator and Head of Archive & Exhibitions at Autograph ABP, London – where she manages a diverse collection of photographs and global programme of exhibition, publishing and research initiatives. A curator and scholar with a special interest in African and diasporic practices, as well as Black British photographic history, she has organised numerous exhibitions in Europe, Africa and the US, including the critically acclaimed exhibition Black Chronicles II (2014, and touring). Her most recent publications include the monograph James Barnor: Ever Young (2015); forthcoming Autograph ABP books include Black Chronicles and The Photography Reader on Race, Rights & Representation (2016 and 2017 respectively), co-edited with Mark Sealy. Mussai lectures internationally on curatorial practice, photography, and cultural politics, and has been a regular guest curator and non-resident fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University since 2009, where she also serves on the Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committee of the newly established Cooper Gallery. Twice recipient of the Sofie- and Emanuel Fohn Fellowship, Mussai is presently a PhD candidate in Art History at University College London.


  • Studium Generale
  • Leiden University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • African Studies Centre

Archival Matters
Curatorial Practice and the Postcolonial Archive | Christine Eyene and Renée Mussai
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 – 19:30 to 22:00

Research Center for Material Culture
Steenstraat 1
2312 BS Leiden

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