A Season of Africa at the ROM

New Acquisitions, exhibitions and stirring events this fall

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) celebrates a Season of Africa this fall, with a thought-provoking series of exhibitions and events inspired by African art and culture. Featured are two new exhibitions, El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa and Position as Desired/Exploring African Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection, both opening October 2, 2010. Later this fall, significant new African acquisitions to the ROM’s permanent collection will be unveiled. A full slate of related public events delves into the complex cultural, social and political issues of modern Africa. Themes ranging from contemporary arts to geo-political realities of the region will be explored through guest lectures, panel discussions and films.

Season of Africa Exhibitions
El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa
The Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) at the ROM presents the world premiere career retrospective of Ghanaian visual artist El Anatsui. This exhibition is the artist’s first solo show in Canada and features 63 works in various media drawn from public and private collections internationally. Drawing on Ghanaian and Nigerian cultural references as well as global, local and personal histories, El Anatsui’s 40-year body of work comprises large shimmering metallic wall sculptures, for which he is best known, as well as paintings and sculptures in wood, ceramic and metal.

This retrospective has been organized by the Museum for African Art (MfAA), in New York, and will be one of the inaugural exhibitions in the MfAA’s new building, which opens in 2011. El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa will be on display in the Roloff Beny Gallery on Level 4 of the ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal from October 2, 2010 to January 2, 2011.

Walls and Barriers
In association with the El Anatsui exhibition, the ICC is pleased to present Walls and Barriers: A Collaborative Project, an innovative education project by diverse youth from secondary schools and community agencies across the Greater Toronto Area. Unprecedented in its scale and conception, it involved more than 500 young artists and teachers who created a public art installation inspired by and in response to the work of El Anatsui. Walls and Barriers will be on display in Canada Court at the ROM from September 25 until October 23, 2010.

Position as Desired
The ROM, in association with Toronto’s Wedge Gallery, announces Position as Desired/Exploring African Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection, a selection of historical and contemporary photographic works documenting the experiences of African Canadians. The exhibition will be on display from Saturday, October 2, 2010 to Sunday, March 27, 2011 in the Wilson Canadian Heritage Exhibition Room of the ROM’s Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada.

New African Acquisitions
Contemporary African artist El Anatsui was commissioned by the ROM to create an original metallic wall hanging for the Museum’s permanent collection, which will be unveiled in the Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific (Level 3, Michael Lee-Chin Crystal) around the time of the opening of the exhibition El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa. In addition, several important and never-before-seen objects recently acquired for the African collection will be installed in this gallery in November and December. More information will be released soon.

*Public Events
Fresh Perspectives – Curatorial Tours of El Anatsui
Select Sundays at 2:00 pm. FREE with ROM admission
Roloff Beny Gallery
Public tours of El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa led by prominent guests including:
Oct. 10 Julie Crooks, filmmaker and independent curator of African Art
Oct. 24 Rosemary Sadlier, President of Ontario Black History Society
Nov. 7 Kenneth Montague, Director of Wedge Curatorial Projects
Nov. 21 Sarah Quinton, Curatorial Director of Textiles Museum of Canada
Dec. 5 Peter Toh, Artistic Director of Afrofest

Film: Nollywood Cinema
Monday, October 18, 7pm
Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre
Screening of Canadian documentary film Nollywood Babylon on the bustling emergent Nigerian film industry, followed by a Q&A. Special guests to be announced soon.
Co-presented by ROM’s Young Patrons’ Circle.

Film: Fold, Crumple, Crush: The Art of El Anatsui
Wednesday, November 24, 7pm
Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre
Documentary film on the art and life of El Anatsui, followed by Q&A with director Susan Vogel.

Talk: Is China good for Africa?
Wednesday, December 1, 7pm
Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre
Panel discussion on the highly debated question of China’s new role on the African continent, with award-winning journalist Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail’s European Bureau Chief, and John Schram, Senior Fellow with the Queen’s Centre for International Relations, and former Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, and former ambassador to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Angola. Other panelists to be confirmed soon.

Talk: Three Continents: Roundtable on Contemporary African Art
Wednesday, December 8, 7pm
Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre
Panel discussion by three of today’s most high profile scholars on contemporary African art:Elizabeth Harney, Professor of contemporary African art, University of Toronto; Chika Okeke-Agulu, Professor of classical and contemporary African art, Princeton University; Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art, director of the Venice Biennale in 2007.
Co-presented by ROM’s Young Patrons’ Circle.

*Please note that program details are subject to change. 

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