Nadine Siegert: Utopian Modernism

MAAN – Memorial Dr. Agostinho Neto, Luanda, 2015. Photo: Nadine Siegert

MAAN – Memorial Dr. Agostinho Neto, Luanda, 2015. Photo: Nadine Siegert

Utopian Modernism – The Aesthetics of Socialism in Africa

Nationalism in socialist Africa was expressed in a form of utopian modernism that was directed to a socialist future but at the same time linked to nostalgic notions of the past. How nostalgia and utopia are interlinked in that formulation of a socialist modernist aesthetic is my key interest. In the context of the aesthetics of African Socialism, both terminology and discourses are adopted from the discourse of Russian Socialist Realism and its repercussions in other countries of the so-called former Eastern Bloc. A critical investigation of these notions and their applicability for the context of the Global South is one of my interests. Siegert argues that we have to relate the artistic practise also to other tendencies and styles of local, regional and global modernisms that were combined with the socialist aesthetics within the establishment of a national, modernist aesthetic in the period of revolution and independence of the African states. Siegert geographically focuses her research on the two post-socialist countries Angola and Mozambique. Diachronically due to the different duration of the following civil wars, both countries developed a local art scene, which connected to the global art world. Siegert asks, how socialist modernism was embedded in the discourse and practises of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary nations.

Nadine Siegert holds a PhD in Art Studies from the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies for her dissertation “(Re)mapping Luanda. Utopie und Nostalgie in der ästhetischen Praxis”. She is deputy director of Iwalewahaus and Associated Project Leader of the project “Revolution 3.0 – Iconographies of Utopia in Africa and its Diaspora” at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies and project leader of the research project “African Art History and the Formation of a Modernist Aesthetics”. Since 2009, she has curated a number of exhibitions, focusing on lusophone Africa and East Africa.


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