The Two-Fold Global Turn
This essay is a review of art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu’s Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015). The book offers a chronicle of artistic theories, practices, and institutions during Nigeria’s independence years (1957–67) amid the historical frames of Third World liberation, African decolonization, and Cold War realpolitik. The essay explores in particular how Postcolonial Modernism revisits and explores the thematic of “national culture”—the concept presented by Frantz Fanon in 1959, with long-lasting impact on theories of postcolonial arts—in the (decentralized) Nigerian art world, with a focus on the synthetic studio practices of members of the Zaria Art Society. Fanon’s “two-fold becoming” model of national culture, which implies catalyzing links to international liberation movements, impacts not only Okeke-Agulu’s narrative of a generational opposition to the preceding cultural paradigms of Negritude, but also—the essay argues—the writing of global modernist history at-large.
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