Dear Olu Oguibe
Thanks very much for your long and detailed reaction on the one quoted sentence from my review on the Dakar Biennale. I feel a bit flattered - if I do feel at all - by the honourable wind you produce around it. At least it starts a kind of dialogue, which we had no opportunity till now - and I'm still sorry that the House of World Cultures couldn't invite you last year to our conference on "The Other Modernities", when you wanted to be a participant and where Okwui Enwezor presented his concept of the 2nd JHB Biennale. But allow me to add a few small things.
I don't know whether the South-African artists you mentioned "cherished the
opportunity to show alongside" (in another sentence you wrote) "artists
they have only read about in magazines", but I know, that most of the ones
you named have already ehibited several times ouside their motherland, last
not least most of them years ago also in the House of the Cultures of the
World. And I doubt that they would have liked your pointing them out as
backwards, who really should be happy to be next to so much famous
international artists. I doubt also whether Vivan Sundaram would like to be
called "Geeta Kapur's husband". Maybe that's only my caucasian point of
view. By the way, as I counted, the South-Africans in the 2nd JHB Biennale
were not 70 (seventy), but not more than 15 in the main show of Okwui, 3 in
Kims show, 1 in Mosqueras show, 3 in Kellie Jones show and 21 in Collin
Richards show, which was meant to be a seperate (!?!) South African show.
I'm very grateful, that you mentioned the Graz show "inclusion/exclusion",
cause indeed there participated a whole lot of the 2nd Johannesburg
Biennale artists, and as an art critic from Europe, who has visited that
show in Austria too, it is pretty questionable why one has to travel to
Johannesburg, only to see nearly the same selection as before here and in
Let me say also, that before your JHB Biennale in 1997 already 1995 the 4th
Istanbul Biennale worked with the concept of non-national contributions, as
well as the Kwangju Biennale did work with a team of international curators
who choose non-nationalwise.
Fortunately, we must say, as the concept of passport-curated exhibitions is
worn-out long ago. Therefore also the House of the Cultures of the World
does not exclude caucasian views and cultures (see our programme on
Reinventing Europe) - what would be a paradoxical, since we ourselves still
are and remain.
Best regards, Sabine Vogel