London’s Tate Modern gallery has announced the appointment of three new curators who will focus on developing the representation of artists from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Nabila Abdel Nabi will focus on art from the Middle East and North Africa; Osei Bonsu on African art in Tate’s collection and programme; and Dr Devika Singh on art from South Asia. The gallery says it hopes the hires will further its commitment to “rethinking the history of modern and contemporary art from a less Western-centric vantage point”.
The gallery has already been focusing on this issue with the launch of Transnational, the new Hyundai Tate Research Centre, an initiative dedicated to bringing a more global perspective to the gallery’s acquisitions and, in turn, art history as a whole. Hyundai is supporting the centre until December 2024, during which time the centre will host annual symposia, seminars and workshops as part of its research.
In 2018/19, 348 works were added to Tate’s international collection, including Tarek Atoui’s The Reverse Collection (2016), Amar Kanwar’s The Lightning Testimonies (2007) and Otobong Nkanga’s Wetin You Go Do? (2015).
Tate Modern director Frances Morris said of the appointments: “Their significant experience and expertise will play an important part in expanding our knowledge of modern and contemporary art from Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East, furthering our ambition to present a truly international story of art through our programme and collection.”
In our in-depth interview with Morris last month for In Conversation, she shared her opinions on representation with regards to the Tate Modern’s visiting public. “I feel very strongly the responsibility of running a national museum. You look at our mission statement and it’s pretty clear – we exist for the people. I’m not, and I wouldn’t be happy to feel that we were privileging one group of people over another. I think we have to do what we can to make Tate as open as possible.”
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