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Looters: Itinerant Images of West African Architecture



The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design

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1725 Baronne Street

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The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design is pleased to announce the fall 2019 exhibition Looters: Itinerant Images of West African Architecture. This exhibition used light projection and sculpture to reveal hidden images of West African architecture in the background of European prints, drawings, and photographs from the 18th through early 20th centuries. Alongside projected images, sculptures and prints by contemporary artists respond to the hidden archive. Looters is particularly relevant for audiences in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, with its latent legacies of West African architecture. Looters is organized by art historian Adrian Anagnost and artists Manol Gueorguiev and Abdi Farah.
Looters focuses on architectural images from three West African sites with historical ties to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: the city-state of Ouidah, the city of Abomey in the Dahomey kingdom (in present-day Benin), and Benin City (in present-day Nigeria). Much of these sites’ historical architecture is destroyed, and in many cases, only images recorded by European visitors remain. Looters seeks to recover a hidden and perhaps unreliable archive of this architecture, found in the backgrounds of prints and photographs in which Europeans staged their versions of colonial encounters. This 2019 presentation of Looters in New Orleans also commemorates the 300th anniversary of what is thought to be the first arrival of enslaved Africans directly from West Africa to New Orleans in 1719, likely including one or more ships from Ouidah (present-day Benin). 
Looters will hold an exhibition reception from 4:00 to 6:00 PM on Friday, November 15th, and visitors are encouraged to visit the Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s Exploring the Diaspora: The Benin Republic, later that same evening. 
Looters will also feature a children’s art activity inspired by Dahomey carved wood designs on Saturday, November 16th, from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM. 
Looters is funded in part by the Platforms Fund, a collaborative re-granting effort of Antenna and Ashé Cultural Arts Center with support by the Andy Warhol Foundation, and hosted by The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design. Special thanks to Francine Stock of the Newcomb Art Department at Tulane University.

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