The first ICAC in 1962 opened up important debates about Africa’s underplayed contribution to the global art world as well as the sophistication and holistic nature of the continents visual culture. The conference aimed at showing in the midst of Africa, the greatness of African culture in the arts and music and demonstrating the influence of African art and music on 20th Century culture. This brought together important personalities, scholars, museum professionals, directors, artists, poets, writers and critics from around the world. Amongst them Alfred Barr the MoMA director, William Fagg the Keeper of the Department of Anthropology at the British Museum, Tristan Tzara the poet and essayist known mainly as a founder of Dada, Nancy Thomas prominent figure in the British Boardcasting Corportation’s Talks Department, Roland Penrose C.B.E Chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Art London, S.O. Okeke of the National Museum of Nigeria and Pierre Guerre who was French Art Critic.
ICAC as a discursive platform was decades ahead of its time. The initial conference looked at a number of issues that included: language, literature and drama, media, visual arts, music, dance, religion, philosophy, archives, identity, cultural diversity, contemporary cultural issues, African diaspora, and the role of women among other issues. A full-scale African art exhibition coincided with the conference and consisted of ethnographic objects from different parts of Africa as well as a broad contemporary art section.
It is not surprising that the first ICAC to a certain extent, threatened colonial governments and inspired societies all over Africa to take pride in their indigenous artistic history. Therefore, to say that the first ICAC was a success is an understatement. It was an event that inspired festivals and conferences on black and African culture in other parts of the world. Namely, the First World Festival of Negro Arts (Dakar) 1966, The First Triennial Symposium of African Art held in Hampton, (Virginia) 1968, the Second World Festival of Black Arts and African Culture (Lagos) 1977. In the 1980s major conferences that were held include the Art Toward Social Development: Culture and Resistance which was held in (Gabarone), the Diversity and Interaction Conference (Durban) 1985. In the 90s, The Dak’Art biennale (Dakar) 1990, the Visual Arts Encounter: African Americans and Europe conference (Paris) 1994, and later, the 2010 World Festival of Black Arts (Dakar).
ICAC 2017 will be made up of 4 major elements:
- Exhibition Program
- Art Week
- Visit to Great Zimbabwe (optional trip on the 14th of September 2017)
The conference will be central to ICAC. The theme of the 2017 conference is thus, Mapping the Future. It will captivate many international and local delegates in order to map the future of art, culture and heritage from Africa. It will provide various players with an opportunity to interrogate the future of art institutions in the face of the current socio-economic challenges. Today the situation has changed and the challenges that were there in the sixties, seventies and eighties are not the same today. ICAC comes at a time when art institutions around the world need urgent attention from both the local authorities, corporations and their governments.
The exhibition program set to run alongside the conference will showcase distinguished artists, both living and late from all over the continent. It will highlight pivotal African narratives while exploring African and Western meeting points against a background of contemporary concerns.
The fourth element is the staging of inaugural art week designed to offer the mushrooming art spaces of Harare an opportunity to celebrate with us and showcase their work. This will promote Zimbabwe’s most contemporary and cutting edge galleries, collectives, craft centres and art related organisations all around Harare.
Visit to Great Zimbabwe
The third element will be an optional visit to Great Zimbabwe (one of the greatest symbols of African Civilisation) where a tour will stimulate interesting discussions. The whole aim of the tour will be reinforce our own narrative, and the historical contributions African societies have given to the world.