An awesome new find: Nka, Journal of Contemporary African Art

My fav supervisor pointed me in the direction of this fabulous scholarly journal on contemporary Africa art, appropriately titled Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Nka is published three times a year out of Duke University, and it’s been around since 1994, but I’ve just discovered it, and I’m glad I did!

The journal’s mission, in part:

In a newly developing field like contemporary African art, a critical journal should play a significant role in creating the very discourse of the discipline itself. Nka represents a step forward in that direction. It is an important initiative in the field of contemporary African and African Diaspora art, which has been neglected within the art historical debate. There is certainly a growing interest in the area of contemporary African and African Diaspora art and the modernist and postmodernist experience within this field. Yet most mainstream art periodicals have marginalised African and Diaspora arts in general, let alone the contemporary forms. The few journals which exist in the field of African art either focus primarily on the ethnographic and the so-called traditional or authentic art forms, or give a cursory and mostly superficial look at the contemporary forms.

Hence, Nka serves as an urgently needed platform, filling a serious gap in the field. It would be right to say that it has in a short period placed contemporary African art in a global perspective and brought significant aspects of contemporary African culture to the awareness of the world. As a serious cultural medium, Nka has since its inception made an appreciable difference in the life and career of numerous African artists, especially those living in the continent who otherwise have little chance of receiving the visibility and support which they desperately need and deserve.

The Spring 2010 issue has a beautiful photo essay by Salah M. Hassan on the exhibit Immigrant Clandestine, by the Dutch artist Judith Quax. The exhibit and this photo essay depict the empty rooms of Senegalese young men who had left for Europe in search of a better life and more economic opportunities in parts of Europe. The exhibit and the essay are also a response to what Hassan refers to as “constant violent treatment toward arriving African immigrants [in Europe]” who, upon their arrival, face strict laws that strip them of their human rights, put them on the margins of society (Hassan, 130). The article underlines the need to better understand the political and other forces behind these waves of migration, or what Hassan terms “world in motion” as well as the consequences of these migrations for both Africa and the West (Hassan, 130).

A great spread for the opening of this essay:

And here’s the cover from the Winter 2009 issue. I like!

Hassan, Salah, M. (Spring 2010). “Judith Quax’s Immigration Clandestine: A Visual Essay.” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.