Okeke-Agulu presents 5 artists whose work exemplify the difficult relationship of art & power as Africa’s decolonization gave way to the emergence of undemocratic polities ruled by charismatic & repressive strongmen in the second half of the 20th century.
Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu presents five artists whose work exemplify the difficult relationship of art and power as Africa’s decolonization gave way to the emergence of undemocratic polities ruled by charismatic and repressive strongmen, in the second half of the twentieth century. In this lecture, Okeke-Agulu argues that these artists developed new artistic form through which they established themselves among the most articulate critical voices of their day. Moreover, by examining the relationship of art and strong-man politics, he reflects on power and critical culture, and juxtaposes art’s imaginative ambitions with its limits and possibilities as a platform for critique of and resistance to regimes of domination in late 20th -century Africa. Okeke-Agulu explores the concept of the “Big Man” as the pervasive figure of power in Africa decades after political independence. He also traces the diverse resonances and manifestations of the big man figure in the work of contemporary African artists and writers. Finally, he considers the shift among modern African artists during this same period from articulating positive national culture to analysis and critique of emergent forms of autocracy and illiberal governance.