This virtual event brings together five artists with African origins—Rikki Wemega-Kwawu, Laiwan, Linda Mvusi, Shaheen Merali, and Zainub Verjee—for an active engagement about the panellists practices’, experiences of resistance, and histories of decolonization. The event will be moderated by Narendra Pachkhédé.
The program is organized in conjunction with Centre A’s current exhibition, Speech Acts: Zainub Verjee, an excerpt of Verjee’s practice where language becomes the materiality of the form and its meaning. The exhibition represents her sustained and long-term engagement with the issues of resistance, activism, artists’ labour, and discourse making—speech, listening, and writing.
Free to attend, hosted on Zoom. Registration required HERE.
Co-presented by Centre A and Western Front.
About the Speakers
Rikki Wemega-Kwawu is a contemporary artist from Sekondi, Ghana. His projects grapple with the effects of globalization and the African diaspora on African art, as well as the politics of cultural dictatorship in the evaluation of modern African art. Rikki has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Poetics of Cloth: African Textiles/Recent Art (2008), Grey Art Gallery, New York University; The World in Your Hand/Welt in der Hand (2010), Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany; and Interwoven Dialogues: Contemporary Art from Africa and South Asia (2017), Aicon Gallery, New York. He directs and is an artist-in-residence at the El Anatsui Experimental Studios, a residency space established and funded by El Anatsui in Takoradi, Ghana. Currently, Rikki is completing the catalogue raisonné on El Anatsui.
Laiwan is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator with a wide-ranging practice based in poetics and philosophy. Born in Zimbabwe of Chinese parents, her family emigrated to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. Laiwan founded the Or Gallery in Vancouver, Canada, in 1983; was Chair of the grunt gallery Board of Directors from 2010 to 2014, and has been teaching in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College since 2001. Currently, Laiwan is a member of the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Committee, and the Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group and Heritage and Culture Working Group. She is also active in the transformation and revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Linda Mvusi is an award-winning architect and actress, best known for her design of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa and 1988 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress in the film A World Apart. Returning to South Africa in 1992 after 32 years in exile, Linda has since designed women’s shelters, libraries, crèches, rape crisis safe homes, cultural centres, and “design-thinking” parks, streets and public transportation for differently-abled and marginalized people.
Shaheen Merali is a London-based curator and writer who explores the intersection of art, cultural identity, and global histories. He has held positions at Central Saint Martins School of Art, University of Westminster, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Shaheen was the co-convenor of “This is Tomorrow: de-canonisation and decolonization” at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, in November 2019. He is currently on the advisory board of the Live Art Development Agency in London.
Zainub Verjee is a multidisciplinary artist and advocate of artists’ rights and labour. She was the Executive Director of Western Front and has held positions at the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, and the City of Mississauga. Currently, Zainub is the Executive Director of the Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries. In 2020, Zainub received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution. This year, she was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design University.
Narendra Pachkhédé (Moderator) is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, programmer, critic, and writer based in Toronto, London, Paris, and Geneva. A Commonwealth Fellow, Narendra pursued his doctoral studies in Anthropology and works at the cross-section of philosophical inquiry, social theory, and systems of knowledge production. He is the founder of the Geneva-based Society for Inquiry into the Social and provides art advisory services to major private art collections. His latest essay is for the catalogue of Cloak and Dagger: India’s Fictional Times at the Zuzeum in Riga, Latvia.