The Global Art Project

Selene Wendt’s essay, Rooted in Cuba and Connected to the World, featured in monograph about María Magdalena Campos-Pons

Edited by Carmen Hermo, with contributions by Mazie M. Harris, Jenée-Daria Strand, Phillip Townsend, Selene Wendt, and an introduction by Amalia Mesa-Bains. 

María Magdalena Campos-Pons (b. 1959) makes powerful work that holds and beholds the stories of historically silenced peoples and urges societal change. Her journey as an artist, teacher, and activist has taken her from Cuba through the United States, and her autobiographical compositions honor her Nigerian and Chinese ancestors while also facing the future. With an artistic practice that crosses boundaries, intertwines media—from photography to sculpture, film to performance—and references traditions and beliefs ranging from feminism to Santería, Campos-Pons’s work is deeply layered and complex. 

This volume, the first critical look at the artist’s oeuvre in nearly two decades, surveys the concerns, materials, and places invoked throughout her forty-year career. Thoughtful essays explore her vibrant, arresting artwork, which confronts issues of agency and the construction of race and belonging and challenges us to reckon with these issues in our own lives. 

This volume, co-published by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Brooklyn Museum, accompanies an exhibition on view at the Brooklyn Museum from September 15, 2023, to January 14, 2024, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from February 15 to June 9, 2024, the Frist Art Museum from September 27, 2024, to January 5, 2025, and the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from February 11 to May 4, 2025.

All the World’s Histories, Selene Wendt’s review of the 59th Venice Biennale featured in Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art.

Highlighting one of the main points of Cecilia Alemani’s curatorial concept for The Milk of Dreams, this essay emphasizes the importance of the fact that for the first time in its history, the Biennale included mostly women and gender non-conforming artists. Taking this as a point of departure, Wendt focuses on the participation of four outstanding Black female artists, Sonia Boyce, Simone Leigh, Zineb Sedira and Alberta Whittle, who were selected to represent the national pavilions of the UK, the United States, France, and Scotland, respectively. These are artists whose practices are very much in the spirt of Enwezor in terms of positioning Black experiences, perspectives, and histories at the center of a global narrative. An analysis of each of their exhibitions for the Venice Biennale, with emphasis on all-encompassing approaches that include film, sound, installation, and sculpture, points to Black female creativity as the most important overriding narrative of the 59th Venice Biennale. With an overriding focus on multidisciplinary art practices, the review also addresses the film works of Ali Cherri and Billy Gérard Frank.



Engine for Art, Democracy & Justice Announces Artist Interventions for Fall 2022

Engine for Art, Democracy & Justice in Nashville, Tennessee, founded by Dr. María Magdalena Campos Pons, is pleased to announce several artist interventions to take place this fall as part of "Artistic Activism and the Power of Collective Resistance" curated by independent curator, Selene Wendt. 

EADJ fall 2022 artist interventions:
Nyugen E. Smith, Bundle House (Te’nashcity)
Large-scale sculpture and live performance. This migrating found object sculpture, created in Nashville, draws upon Nashville’s history related to The Great Migration, and its vulnerability to climate disaster as the flood of 2010 demonstrated. 

Christopher Cozier, Version #7 Home/Portal 
Artistic action (ongoing). This work addresses the idea of a place or condition that is in between—the location you leave and to which you never fully return. Activated in collaboration with the Nashville-based photographer LeXander Bryant. 

Jeannette Ehlers, We’re Magic. We’re Real (These Walls), 2021 
Live performance & braiding circle. Presented in the United States for the first time, this ongoing series of work makes use of hair as an important marker of identity across communities of African descent, as a simple but powerful gesture. 

Forthcoming 2023 spring EADJ panel discussions: 

Episode eight: Mending the Social Fabric of Our Time  
Episode nine: The Power of a Collective Chorus  
Episode ten: Bodies in Motion as a Call to Freedom  
Episode eleven: Through the Lens of Social Justice

Selene Wendt to curate Vanderbilt University’s Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice

Focusing on art as an act of solidarity and resistance, the 2022/23 Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice platform will bring together outstanding individuals from various creative disciplines whose work helps to reframe and rewrite the past, enabling us to rethink how we can fight against the social injustices of our time and reimagine a more socially just future for all. The 2022/23 programming is conceived to foster inclusive, meaningful dialogues and collaborations that will have a real impact that will resonate beyond academia and the art world. Taking a distinctly transdisciplinary, transcultural, transhistorical approach to decolonial thinking, the programming highlights socially and politically engaged art practices that confront the social and political challenges of our time through a series of panels, artistic interventions, performances, poetry, music and art that will take place at cultural venues, historical sites and public spaces throughout Nashville.

Beyond the Door of No Return co-published by The Africa Institute and Skira.

Beyond the Door of No Return: Confronting Hidden Colonial Histories through Contemporary Art. This richly illustrated book focuses on the lesser-known details of colonial history, with particular emphasis on stories of resistance and rebellion against colonial rule. The contemporary artists featured in this book include John Akomfrah, La Vaughn Belle, Manthia Diawara, Jeannette Ehlers, Michelle Eistrup, Sasha Huber, Oceana James, Patricia Kaersenhout, Grada Kilomba, Suchitra Mattai, and Alberta Whittle, who are all at the forefront of decolonial thinking. Through their artworks, they convey compelling narratives that shed light on the entangled colonial histories that connect Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. Collectively, these artists provide crucial insight into some of the lesser-known aspects of colonial history, such as Norwegian involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. These artists convey unique resistance stories about fearless freedom fighters such as Venus Johannes, Mary Thomas, Olaudah Equiano, and Anna Heegaard, thereby allowing for a deeper, more nuanced understanding of colonial history than the historical narratives that have typically been told from a Western perspective. These are stories of empowerment and resistance that help, at least partially, to set the historical record straight. By highlighting the stories of those who have been historically silenced, we gain access to a more nuanced understanding of colonial history and the factors which have contributed to the continued effects of colonialism today, most evidently witnessed in the prevalence of racism, poverty, and forced migration.  The author’s experience as a curator of contemporary art is strongly influenced by longtime research in cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and African and African diaspora aesthetics.  Image: John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea (2015) Three-channel color video installation, 7.1 surround sound, 48 minutes, 30 seconds Smoking Dogs Films.