Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Narrative of Desire: The Politics of Exhibiting Culture and Displaying African Art

23 November 2017, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz Lecture Image 1

Event Information

Open to



Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building

The IAS and the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies are delighted to welcome Bárbaro Martinez-Ruiz (Head, Department of Art History & Discourse of Art, University of Cape Town) to UCL for this Leverhulme Lecture on 'Narrative of Desire: The Politics of Exhibiting Culture and Displaying African Art'.

This lecture will touch upon some of the issues discussed by George Marcus as symptomatic of new approaches in anthropology. It will explore his suggestion that the off-stage green room is an apt metaphor for the increased dialogue across disciplines, particularly between anthropology and African art history, in that it symbolizes a XXI century experience of globalization that focuses on site-specific performance art and ethnographic encounters. The lecture will cover a global debate over Western representations of African and African diaspora art with special attention to issues such as the manner of in which aesthetic concepts, museum politics, art display, colonialism, identity practices and nationalism intersect across a global diaspora. It will explore questions of representation of contemporary African art and its proliferation in art collections of major institutions around the world and will query the dichotomy between viewing 'African' artistic practices in the diaspora as either influenced by cultures of the West (modern) or as non-Western cultures equated with primitivism (traditional).

Bárbaro Martinez-Ruiz is the Head of Department for the Department of Art History & Discourse of Art at the University of Cape Town. He is also a Leverhulme Visiting Professor, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford and Senior Fellow at St. Anthony's College. 

This event will be followed by a reception. 

Please register here.

Centre for Critical Heritage Studies Illustration by Kristina Edgren