Our Founder Zina Saro-Wiwa delivers the 2020 James S. Coleman Lecture at UCLA. 




We are delighted to announce that the 2020 James S. Coleman Memorial Lecture is being delivered by Zina Saro-Wiwa. Due to Covid-19, Saro-Wiwa has opted to deliver the lecture in film form. In this unique performance lecture film, artist Zina Saro-Wiwa navigates the moral, philosophical and cultural conundrums that arise from the very existence of contemporary traditional African art. The likes of which she encounters, exhibitis and entangles with in her native Ogoniland. Yet Saro-Wiwa’s hybrid identity has forced her to consider how African masks live both in the West and in Africa and how these African art worlds impact one another and explores the ways in which the cultural capital-building powers of traditional African art objects are curtailed. In “Worrying the Mask” Saro-Wiwa challenges the call for the restitution of African art by privileging storytelling over geographical location. She exposes the desires and limitations of Ogoni storytelling to ask whether an object can represent a people at all. And she elucidates how contemporaneity informs the genre of “contemporary traditional African art,” suggesting that our attempts to understand and explain it may require a radical ontological shift. To view the film and it’s clips please visit: http://www.zinasarowiwa.com/news/worrying-the-mask-the-politics-of-authenticity-and-contemporaneity-in-the-worlds-of-african-art/