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African Performance and the Postcolony

  • Catherine M. Cole


African artists cannot and do not choose their subject matter, says critic Tejumola Olaniyan. “They are, on the contrary, chosen by their subjects.” While that liberates artists from the “heavy burden of a head-scratching search for what on earth to create their art about,” Olaniyan observes, it also imposes “the much heavier burden of how on earth to fashion from that surfeit of ‘what’ an imaginative sublimation worthy of the label ‘art.’ This has been the contemporary African artist's greatest challenge, more so than artists in other climes.”1



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