Okwui enwezor

... WIP

Often named one of the most influential art critics of our time, Okwui Enwezor made a huge mark on how we think about what, how, and who of contemporary art today. He moved to the US when he was 18 from Nigeria and attended New Jersey City University majoring in political science. Enwezor's interest in poetry eventually would lead him to his curiosity in conceptual art, especially for its use of language. His influence is still felt through the images and documentations of the shows he curated and directed such as: In/sight, Guggenheim Museum, 1996; Johannesburg Biennale, 1997; dOCUMENTA 11, 2002; Gwangju Biennale, 2008; Triennale d’Art Contemporain of Paris, 2012; Venice Biennale, 2015.

Coverage of Okwui Enwezor's lecture at NJCU organized by Professors Martin Kruck, Midori Yoshimoto, and Deborah Jack on the school newspaper, The Gothic Times, March 17, 2008.

Poster for the lecture at NJCU


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This commemoration is very personal to me (JJ). In 2015, I spent almost a month in Italy installing one of the pavilions at Venice Biennale as an artist assistant for the artist representing the United States. Every time there was any time for a break, I roamed around eager to see what everyone else was installing. When the Arsenale finally opened, I found myself in a very different show than I was used to. Before then, I, a WOC in the art world, never felt like there was space for people who looked like me on the world stage. This was the first non-euro-centric show I have ever seen in the contemporary art world on this scale. And I will never forget this show curated by Okwui Enwezor, the first African-born curator in the exhibition's 120-year history.

As a resident of Jersey City, the importance of NJCU is easy to see. Many first-generation students often from Jersey City and Hudson County see the school as an accessible place to continue their education for a college degree. As we continue to hear the news of NJCU's financial troubles and their uncertain future, I can't help to wonder if those in power know how special their place is in this world and what difference their education and their students have made in the larger scale.


My friends in Munich and here in Jersey City

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