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Katherine Finerty

MA work

TRANSLOCAL CURATORIAL-CONSCIOUSNESS: Carnivalesque Institutional Critique in Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002

In my dissertation I investigate artist strategies that consciously question the act of curating and the role of the museum institution as a means to establish translocal cultural representation and reflexive critique. The main case study is Benin artist Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997-2002 exhibited at the Tate Modern in London from 3 July – 22 September 2013. To contextualise this project (simultaneously a fictional museum, work of art, and participatory exhibition) in the contemporary context of twenty-first century art institutions and an age of developing transcultural awareness, I employ both past and current art historical, discursive, museological, and curatorial methodologies.
 
Through an interrogation of key discursive terms integral to the development of global art theory, Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art is located in a trajectory of curatorially-conscious and institutionally-critical expressions of what it means to be translocal today: the Modern (art historical contexts of artist-designed spaces challenging museum institutions, from Marcel Broodthaers to Fred Wilson); the Postcolonial (subversive carnivalesque strategies employed by contemporary artists Yinka Shonibare, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Isaac Julien); the Global (agendas to internationalise the scope of museum collections and programming in institutions such as the Tate Modern); and the Translocal (socially engaged artwork and programming activating cross-cultural references and exchange, from the 1963 Poïpoïdrome to Gaba’s Museum today). 

 
Through these points of analysis I am interested in emphasising progress, inclusion, and collaboration within contemporary art institutions, critique, and discourse. I argue that when exhibited in, and now in the collection of, the Tate Modern, Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art functions as both a self-reflexively critique and celebration of institutions. It is this integral tension – of belonging yet marginalisation, interconnectedness yet differentiation, centre yet periphery – where the translocal is realised. Gaba has powerfully claimed: ‘What I do is react to an African situation in relation to Eurocentric problems’. Moreover, his Museum creates an environment facilitating research, communication, and the breaking down of institutional hierarchies, thus offering a progressive solution of translocal expression to achieve diverse cultural representations and exchanges in art institutions today and moving forward.    

Info

  • Katherine Finerty
  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA Curating Contemporary Art, 2014

    Specialism

    Translocalism, politics of representation, socially engaged practices, multimedia and performance art, museum studies, African art history

  • I am a curator and art historian whose socially engaged practice focuses in contemporary translocal art and seeks to inspire progressive dialogues between people and cultures. I aspire to work collaboratively in developing alternative art historical discourses and creating exhibitions that encourage participatory experiences for diverse publics.

     

    Since moving to London to pursue a Masters in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, I have also worked as the curatorial assistant for Rencontres Picha: Biennale de Lubumbashi 2012/2013, a publications intern at the Whtie Cube, and an assistant for the artist Theaster GatesI received a BA in History of Art and Africana Studies at Cornell University, New York, and studied History of Art abroad at Pembroke College, Cambridge University. While pursing my BA I worked as an education intern at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and after graduating I was a curatorial intern at the Metropolitan Museum in the Arts of Africa department and at the Studio Museum in Harlem, for which I continue to blog and publish articles. 

  • Degrees

  • BA History of Art and Africana Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 2011; History of Art, Pembroke College, Cambridge University, 2010
  • Experience

  • Curatorial assistant, Rencontres Picha: Biennale de Lubumbashi 2012–13; Assistant to Theaster Gates, 2012–14 ; Publications internship, White Cube, London, 2012; Curatorial internship, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 2011; Curatorial internship, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2011; Education internship, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2009; Vice President, History of Art Majors’ Society, Cornell University, New York, 2010–11 ; Co-founder, Ujima Club and Ujima Subukia Fund, Kenya, 2003–14
  • Exhibitions

  • … all silent but for the buzzing …, Royal College of Art, London, 2014; Rencontres Picha: Biennale de Lubumbashi 2012/2013, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2013; Adjacent Practice Colliding Daily, Acme Project Space, London, 2013; Not Dressed for Conquering: Ines Doujak's Loomshuttles/Warpaths, Royal College of Art, London, 2013; iCON: Consuming the American Image, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, New York, 2011; Bodies Unbound: The Classical and Grotesque, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, New York, 2010; Topography in Translation: Navigating Modern Chinese Landscapes, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, New York, 2010
  • Awards

  • Summa Cum Laude Honors, Senior Thesis 'GLOBAL / MOBILE: Global Cultural Movement and Representation of the African Diaspora – Multimedia Installations of Berni Searle and Isaac Julien', Cornell University, New York, 2011; Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, 2011; The Sampson Fine Arts Prize, Cornell University, New York, 2011; The Angela Davis Essay Award, Cornell University, New York, 2011
  • Publications

  • 'dOCUMENTA(13): This time and place for art', Studio, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Winter/Spring 2013; 'Question Bridge: Black Males – A Dialogue with the Artists', Studio, The Studio Museum in Harlem: Summer/Fall 2012; 'Caribbean: Crossroads of the World', Studio, The Studio Museum in Harlem: Winter/Spring 2012; 'Aesthetics of the Cool: Dr. Robert Farris Thompson in conversation with Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims', Studio (Online), The Studio Museum in Harlem: Winter/Spring 2012; 'Unveiling American Identities', Exhibition catalog, iCON: Consuming the American Image, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 2011; 'The Postmodern Chinese Landscape', Exhibition catalog, Topography in Translation: Navigating Modern Chinese Landscapes, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 2010