Demands and Dialogue: Re-engaging African Objects and Communities at the Royal Ontario Museum

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
6:00 PM - 9:30 PM (ET)
PALMTN Davis Auditorium
Event Type
Art History

Demands and Dialogue: Re-engaging African Objects and Communities at the Royal Ontario Museum
Speaker: Dr. Silvia Forni 

Dr. Silvia Forni is Curator of Anthropology in the ROM's Department of World Cultures. She is the curator of the African collection, and responsible for the permanent and rotating display of African artworks in the Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and the Asia Pacific. She is also Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where she teachers Anthropology of Material Culture, Ethnography of Africa and Anthropology of Art.

Since joining the ROM in 2008, she curated the partial gallery reinstallation and has worked on a number of exhibition projects focusing on African and African Canadian themes. Her research focuses on the significance of art objects and material culture in both local contexts and as part pf exchange networks. She is interested in the tensions, dynamics, and feedback that inspire the contemporary creators in Africa and the way art challenges the way Africa has been constructed in the Western imagination.  In Cameroon, Dr. Forni has been researching the production and marketing of "traditional" African artworks produced since the second half of the 20th century and focusing on the important role of African dealers in the international trade of African art and their contributions to the shaping of collections and knowledge.  In Ghana, she has been investigating the production, meaning, performance and circulation of the insignia of the Asafo companies of the Fante people.

This lecture will focus on the contentious history surrounding the exhibition, "Into the Heart of Africa", a moment that polarized Canadian communities when it debuted in 1989. Just recently, the museum formally apologized for the anti-African racisim the exhibition brought to its community. Dr. Forni will discuss the role of museum curators in negotiating between art objects, difficult histories and modern publics.  

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