The Senior Guest Researchers have a high-level competence and experience in the field of art historiography with reference to postcolonial Modernism. We seek to balance the researchers’ team by including strong perspectives from the Global South.

Senior Guest Researchers:

Dr. Yvette Mutumba was research curator for Africa at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main and is co-founder of the online magazine Contemporary And (C&) – Platform for International Art from African Perspectives. She did her PhD entitled ‘(Re)Presentations, Receptions,  Expectations: Contemporary Art from Africa and the Diaspora in the German context, 1960s – 2011’ as stipendiary of Birkbeck, University of London. Mutumba studied Art History at the Freie Universität, Berlin. Before starting her work at the Weltkulturen Museum, Yvette worked in various fields of the contemporary art business. Additionally, she published multiple texts on contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora, co-curated and initiated projects dealing with the issue and advised institutions such as the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwartskunst or the ifa in regards to the topic.

In her contribution to the research project Yvette Mutumba will look at the very different ways and formats of archiving the art works at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt and at the Makerere Gallery.  In case of the Schneider collection also the whereabouts of the works before they entered the Frankfurt collection will be considered. Focus, however, will be the different institutional handling of those works created at Makerere between the 1960s and 1980s. What effect does the physical caring for/neglect of works have on their relevance as art historical objects? How does their handling relate to an understanding of the artists’ approaches, motivations and developments? Which role play artists, custodians, archivists, curators, teachers – hence those people who feel in one way or the other responsible (or not) – for the positioning of these works in a relevant art discourse? How might it be possible to develop new presentations and readings out of those possibly conflicting contexts and situations? And what might be the strategies to circumvent the danger of reducing these questions to a simple juxtaposition of different national and cultural backgrounds?

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, MA (Nnaggenda International Academy of Art & Design, Kampala)

Prof. Dr. Bärbel Küster is currently visiting professor art history of modernity at the Technische Universität Berlin. She was a lecturer in the Wrangell-Excellence programme for art history in Stuttgart 2012-14, lecturer at Goethe University in Frankfurt in the section of Curatorial Studies 2013-14. She has published on a wide range of subjects as primitivism and anthropology in works of Picasso and Matisse, 20th Century Sculptures in public spaces and museum history related to Africa. Since 2014 she is directing „Contemporary photography in Bamako and Dakar. An oral history“, a research and exhibtion project supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, TURN-Programme (Africa), in Germany.

Her project will examine “Modernities to/from Africa – Artistic exchange programmes, 1950s-1970s”. Küster’s research encounters postwar relations between different institutions which played a major role in artistic exchange of art from Africa in Germany or Great Britain and vice versa. She wishes to specify the role of art education and stately programmes such as the ifa-cultural exchange programme (initiated by the German ministry of foreign affairs), the semi-privately operating German Art Council, as well as the GDR-programmes, the Art Information Registry for non-British artists which operated since 1969 in London, and several artistic students exchanges from Slade School and Royal Academy, London. It covers also participants in UNESCO art education programmes or ICOM, which for example invited museum staff from African countries in 1968 to Germany. Special attention shall be paid to visiting scholars and artists coming to museums and institutions. They travelled to and from Africa and their counterparts in African Countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Uganda. The interlacing of art education and official stately exchange programmes will bring some more artists from Africa to our knowledge as well as those who traveled to Africa from Gremany and Great Britain. Which role played exchanges in their artistic careers and how can we evaluate the programmes’ impact on the artistic field in Germany, Britain and Uganda by reconstructing a history of their exhibitions and activities related to the programmes.

Dr. Angelo Kakande is a lecturer for art history at Makerere University in Kampala.  Through his dissertation on Ugandan art during one of the most difficult decades of the countries history, the Civil War, as well as through his articles on contemporary art, he actively contributes to the discourse of Ugandan art history.

His research project focuses on “‘Schneider’s Collection in Germany’: Overlapping interests, shared experiences, visually productive negotiations”. Kakande recently read an article in which Ivan Bargna examined the “collecting practices” in Cameroun that are located beyond the margins erected by the colonial (capitalist) encounter. Barna unveils a museum collection as a form of inquiry and (or on) negotiated experiences. In the process, he opened a discursive space in which a museum collection becomes a set of overlapping interests and complex economic and socio-political negotiations between individuals and objects. Departing from this position as an assumption, Kakande will re-examine the overlapping benefits in which “Schneider’s collection in Germany” took shape during the nineties. What negotiations (and assumptions) evolved within the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art while opening Schneider’s access to the “permanent collection” at Makerere University as he constituted one of the biggest “private collections” from Makerere’s “permanent collection” located outside the university and Uganda? How did a collector’s interaction with key actors at Makerere inform a creative enterprise which, though not part of Schneider’s collection itself, evolved into a kind of “pedagogy” informed by the “economies of scarcity” in which Schneider (and Roko Building Construction as a company) supplied “art materials” that were “scarce” at the university? Analysing the available archive and interviews with a collector (active during Schneider’s time), lecturers and former students will provide responses to this, and related questions. It will enrich our knowledge on the contexts in which Schneider collected the artworks in his collection.

Dr. Ozioma Onozulike works both as an artist (mainly ceramics) and art historian. He currently teaches in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at Nsukka University of Nigera.

Within the research project, Onozulike will focus on “Iwalewahaus Collection in the History of Stylistic and Conceptual Developments in Contemporary Nigerian art”. According to him, there appears to be a strong relationship between the works of the Oshogbo artists (mentored and collected by Ulli and Georgina Beier) and contemporary developments in the art of the Ona group, associated with artists trained at the Obafemi  Awolowo University , Ile-Ife. There is also a strong relationship between collections from Nsukka and current transformations in the works coming out of that region of Nigeria.  Thus he intends to explore paintings, sculptures, photographs and papers at the Iwalewahaus in the examination of aspects of the historical, stylistic and conceptual similarities and shifts in the development of modern and contemporary art in Nigeria.

Marian Nur Goni is a PhD fellow at EHESS, L’ecole des Haute Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris with a research interest in collections and photography.

Her research “Revisiting the Murumbi Collection” focuses its attention on the collection and archive of Joseph Murumbi (1911-1990), whose trajectory has been closely linked to the birth of independent Kenya. After serving briefly as Minister of Foreign affairs and as second Vice-president of Kenya (1965-1966), Joseph Murumbi devoted his entire life to African arts and heritage. In 1981, a Unesco report evaluated his collection (made up of ethnographic artefacts from Kenya and art works – mostly sculpturesand paintings – from Central and East Africa) of about 1 100 objects. More recently, in an article aptly titled “Joseph Murumbi, A pioneer collector”, Wanjiru Ndungu states that “There is simply no other collection of its kind in Africa”. She goes on by arguing: “There was also no other collector of Murumbi’s stature in sub-Saharan Africa with such a huge personal collection of African arts.” (1) Given the depth of Murumbi’s vision, who dreamt that his collection could become the core of a panafrican centre for African studies, it seems odd that, to date no academic work has been directed towards this extraordinary experience which implied connections and flows of people and objects between different countries and continents. Indeed, it seems particularly urgent to turn our eyes to his gestures today, at a time when contemporary African art more and more attracts the attention of major public museums, private galleries and fairs in the North, the very place where African art is preserved, marketed, framed and written about, with the risk, once again, of creating new potentially “dangerous” exclusions. This project seeks not only to better understand the painful partition of the Murumbi’s collection from the late 70s and how the postcolonial state has dealt and deals with this collection and legacy (a Murumbi gallery has been inaugurated at the National Archives in 2006) but also to work on the process of the foundation and creation of his collection and gallery – African Heritage – which he founded in Nairobi in 1972 with his wife Sheila and Alan Donovan; how did they function exactly? What were their networks? What impacts did they leave on the artistic scene in Nairobi and in East Africa? Of particular interest to me is also Murumbi’s strong panafrican option: what did this mean exactly then and how can this resonate with present concerns and desires?

(1) Wanjiru Ndungu, « Joseph Murumbi, A pioneer collector », New
African Magazine, October 29, 2013.

Junior Guest Researcher:

Rose Jepkorir (Nairobi)

Associated Researchers:

Shirabe Ogata is a Research Fellow in the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Her focus for this project will be on the impact of German individuals and institutions on production of arts and intentions of artists who live and work in Ile-Ife, southwestern Nigeria. It is based on research on artists in Ile-Ife including Oshogbo artists from 2003 to 2015. Oshogbo artists were ‘found’ and encouraged by a German scholar Ulli Beier and his associates from the mid-1950s to late 1990s. Several Oshogbo artists live in Ile-Ife, which is geographically very close to Oshogbo and made vibrant by the few thousand people at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and overseas visitors to the university. Whether or not they call themselves Oshogbo artists, quite a number of contemporary artists in Ile-Ife have been influenced by Oshogbo artists. Influenced areas vary from the style and subject matter of artists’ works to their intentions of patronage. Some artists often draw upon styles of the first and second generation of Oshogbo artists, while others dare not do as such but try to identify their works as different from those of Oshogbo. However, the most crucial influence in question may be the change of relationship between artists and patrons, that is, artists living in Ile-Ife and German individuals and institutions. This is related to the impact of Ulli Beier and his associates on the earlier generation of Oshogbo artists, and in consequence, contemporary artists’ intention to produce artworks to be appreciated and purchased by foreigners or ‘whites’. This research will examine the legacy of Oshogbo art movement in Ile-Ife after 2000 with focus on individuals and institutions on both Nigerian and German sides. Observing various viewpoints of individual artists and patrons, it will trace how their relationship has been continuing and changing. This should give us an opportunity to rethink African art that is produced and received with an intimate relationship between local artists in Africa and individuals and institutions in Europe.

Dr. Polly Savage is teaching art history at SOAS, University of London.

Moses Serubiri works as a freelance writer and curator from Kampala and New York.

Associated Artists:

Talya Lubinsky (Johannesburg)

Peterson Kamwathi (Nairobi)