5 September 2024

Possible Histories and Blazing Forms*


Public Event | 5 September 2024 | 9.30 - 16.00 | Grotezaal, Wereldmuseum Leiden

The collections of the Wereldmuseum hold both historic and contemporary art from across the African continent as well as the African Diaspora. We have been curating these works in temporary and permanent exhibitions for several decades. While we have long been critical of our curatorial and collecting practices, we are currently in a focussed moment of assessing our own work in relation to the broader field of the writing of (art) histories today. Moreover, we are aware that our self-questioning comes at a time of growing demands for restitution of objects and for the decolonizing of museums. 

For this conversation series, we are interested to ask how curating African art in the present can respond to these demands. As we rethink our own practices, we are also interested to trace some approaches to writing and curating art from Africa that emerged within art historical and artistic disciplines over the last two centuries. We want to critically reflect on early explorations of primitivism to more recent World Art studies (in Europe), and the different genealogies of African Art Histories in the USA or in Europe. In these considerations, we also want to ask how the discipline of Art History approaches art from Africa by scholars from and on the continent. Through this work, we hope that we can foster new practices for thinking about arts from Africa and its diaspora.

Confirmed participants include:


Image credit: Hélène Akouavi Amouzou, Autoportrait, 2008, work part of Wereldmuseum collection, 7035-4
* "Blazing forms" is a quotation from the poem The Convert (1960), by Margaret Danner
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Wereldmuseum Leiden (Grote zaal)

Steenstraat 1,

2312 BS Leiden


9.30 - 10.00 Check-in and registration
10.00 - 10.20 Welcoming remarks by Wayne Modest
10.30 - 10.50 Presentation by Cecile Fromont
10.55 - 11.15 Presentation by Ernestine White-Mifetu
11.15 - 11.20 Break
11.20 - 11.40 Presentation by Cheryl Finley
11.40 - 12.30 Discussion


12.30 - 13.15 Lunch Break


13.20 - 13.40 Presentation by Aude Christel Mbga
13.45 - 14.05 Presentation by Victoria Collis-Buthelezi
14.05 - 14.10 Break
14.15 - 14.35 Presentation by Simon Njami
14.40 - 15.20 Discussion
15.25 - 15.40 Closing Remarks 


About the Speakers

Ernestine White-Mifetu
Aude Christel Mgba
Aude Christel Mgba
Cecile Fromont
Cecile Fromont
Simon Njami
Victoria Collis-Buthelezi
Victoria Collis-Buthelezi
Cheryl Finley
Cheryl Finley