Art historian Adrian Anagnost & artist Manol Gueorguiev, with artist Abdi Farah
Fall 2019 Exhibition on display "Looters: Itinerant Images of West African Architecture." The opening reception will be held Nov. 15, 4 - 6 p.m., at Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, 1725 Baronne Street, New Orleans.
The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design is pleased to announce the fall 2019 exhibit on Looters: Itinerant Images of West African Architecture. Organized by art historian Adrian Anagnost and artist Manol Gueorguiev, in collaboration with artist Abdi Farah, this exhibition explores European imagery of West African architecture and terrain during the Atlantic period (17th-19th centuries), a time of violent encounter. The exhibition includes projections of historical engravings and photographs forming an immersive installation, and sculptures and prints by contemporary artists responding to archival images. Looters is particularly relevant for audiences in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, with its latent legacies of West African architecture.
Looters focuses on architectural images from three West African sites with historical ties to the Gulf Coast: the city-state of Ouidah and city of Abomey in the Dahomey kingdom (now Benin), and Benin City (in present-day Nigeria). Much of these sites’ 17th- through 19th-century architecture was destroyed, and in many cases, only images recorded by European visitors remain. Looters seeks to recover a hidden and perhaps unreliable archive of this architecture, found in the backgrounds of prints and photographs in which Europeans staged their versions of colonial encounters. This 2019 presentation of Looters in New Orleans also commemorates the 300th anniversary of what is thought to be the first arrival of enslaved Africans directly from West Africa to New Orleans in 1719, likely including one or more ships from Ouidah (present-day Benin).
While the continuity of West African cultural expressions in New Orleans music, food, and dance are well known, Looters presents evidence for a lesser-known history, of West African building forms and techniques as a potential source for local architecture. Further commemorating New Orleans’ historical ties with West Africa, the exhibition also coincides with the Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s events Exploring the Diaspora: The Benin Republic, held November 14th and 15th.Looters will hold a reception from 4:00 to 6:00 PM on Friday, November 15th, and a children’s embossing activity inspired by Dahomey designs on Saturday, November 16th, from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM.
This exhibition is funded in part by the Plaeorms Fund, a collaborative re-granting effort of Antenna and Ashé Cultural Arts Center with support by the Andy Warhol Foundation, and supported by The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design. Special thanks to Francine Stock of the Newcomb Art Department at Tulane University.