Core Team

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board is formed by academics and experienced professionals in the field of arts.

Rowland Abiodun is John C. Newton Professor of the History of Art and Black Studies, Amherst College (USA). He is the author of Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art (2014), What Follows Six Is More than Seven: Understanding African Art (1995); co-author of Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought (1989), Yoruba Art and Aesthetics (1991), and Cloth Only Wears to Shreds: Yoruba Textiles and Photographs from the Beier Collection (2004); and co-editor of Ifá Divination, Knowledge, Power, and Performance (2016) and The Yoruba Artist: New Theoretical Perspectives on African Arts (1994). Abiodun is Advisory Board member, the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and was a consultant for, and participant in, the Smithsonian World Film, Kindred Spirits: Contemporary Nigerian Art. A former member and chair of the Herskovits Book Award Committee of the African Studies Association, Abiodun has also served on the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association and as the President of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association. He chaired the Executive Board of the Five College African Scholars Program, Amherst, Massachusetts, and has been interviewed by the BBC World Service on the Art of Africa. In 2011, he received the Leadership Award of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association in recognition of his excellence, innovative contributions, and vision in the fields of African and Diasporic Arts.

His focus during the project African Art History and the Formation of a Modern Aesthetic will be on Contemporary Art in Nigeria as represented in the archives of Ulli and Georgina Beier, and in particular the concept and meaning of Modernism within the context of African art.

Elsbeth Court, SOAS (UK).

Salah Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in the Africana Studies and Research Center, and in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University (USA).

Sigrid Horsch-Albert, MA, Collection Curator of Iwalewahaus and Deputy Director of DEVA (Germany).

Prof. em. Dr. Sidney Kasfir, Art History Department, Emory University (USA).

Atta Kwami, Artist and independent Art Historian and Curator, Kumasi (UK / Ghana).

Chika Okeke-Agulu, Associate Professor of Art and Archaeology and African American studies, Princeton University (USA).

Dr. Ulf Vierke, Director of Iwalewahaus (Germany).

Guest Researchers

The Senior Guest Researchers have a high-level competence and experience in the field of art historiography with reference to postcolonial Modernism. We seek to balance the researchers’ team by including strong perspectives from the Global South.

Senior Guest Researchers:

Dr. Yvette Mutumba was research curator for Africa at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt am Main and is co-founder of the online magazine Contemporary And (C&) – Platform for International Art from African Perspectives. She did her PhD entitled ‘(Re)Presentations, Receptions,  Expectations: Contemporary Art from Africa and the Diaspora in the German context, 1960s – 2011’ as stipendiary of Birkbeck, University of London. Mutumba studied Art History at the Freie Universität, Berlin. Before starting her work at the Weltkulturen Museum, Yvette worked in various fields of the contemporary art business. Additionally, she published multiple texts on contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora, co-curated and initiated projects dealing with the issue and advised institutions such as the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwartskunst or the ifa in regards to the topic.

In her contribution to the research project Yvette Mutumba will look at the very different ways and formats of archiving the art works at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt and at the Makerere Gallery.  In case of the Schneider collection also the whereabouts of the works before they entered the Frankfurt collection will be considered. Focus, however, will be the different institutional handling of those works created at Makerere between the 1960s and 1980s. What effect does the physical caring for/neglect of works have on their relevance as art historical objects? How does their handling relate to an understanding of the artists’ approaches, motivations and developments? Which role play artists, custodians, archivists, curators, teachers – hence those people who feel in one way or the other responsible (or not) – for the positioning of these works in a relevant art discourse? How might it be possible to develop new presentations and readings out of those possibly conflicting contexts and situations? And what might be the strategies to circumvent the danger of reducing these questions to a simple juxtaposition of different national and cultural backgrounds?

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, MA (Nnaggenda International Academy of Art & Design, Kampala)

Prof. Dr. Bärbel Küster is currently visiting professor art history of modernity at the Technische Universität Berlin. She was a lecturer in the Wrangell-Excellence programme for art history in Stuttgart 2012-14, lecturer at Goethe University in Frankfurt in the section of Curatorial Studies 2013-14. She has published on a wide range of subjects as primitivism and anthropology in works of Picasso and Matisse, 20th Century Sculptures in public spaces and museum history related to Africa. Since 2014 she is directing „Contemporary photography in Bamako and Dakar. An oral history“, a research and exhibtion project supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, TURN-Programme (Africa), in Germany.

Her project will examine “Modernities to/from Africa – Artistic exchange programmes, 1950s-1970s”. Küster’s research encounters postwar relations between different institutions which played a major role in artistic exchange of art from Africa in Germany or Great Britain and vice versa. She wishes to specify the role of art education and stately programmes such as the ifa-cultural exchange programme (initiated by the German ministry of foreign affairs), the semi-privately operating German Art Council, as well as the GDR-programmes, the Art Information Registry for non-British artists which operated since 1969 in London, and several artistic students exchanges from Slade School and Royal Academy, London. It covers also participants in UNESCO art education programmes or ICOM, which for example invited museum staff from African countries in 1968 to Germany. Special attention shall be paid to visiting scholars and artists coming to museums and institutions. They travelled to and from Africa and their counterparts in African Countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Uganda. The interlacing of art education and official stately exchange programmes will bring some more artists from Africa to our knowledge as well as those who traveled to Africa from Gremany and Great Britain. Which role played exchanges in their artistic careers and how can we evaluate the programmes’ impact on the artistic field in Germany, Britain and Uganda by reconstructing a history of their exhibitions and activities related to the programmes.

Dr. Angelo Kakande is a lecturer for art history at Makerere University in Kampala.  Through his dissertation on Ugandan art during one of the most difficult decades of the countries history, the Civil War, as well as through his articles on contemporary art, he actively contributes to the discourse of Ugandan art history.

His research project focuses on “‘Schneider’s Collection in Germany’: Overlapping interests, shared experiences, visually productive negotiations”. Kakande recently read an article in which Ivan Bargna examined the “collecting practices” in Cameroun that are located beyond the margins erected by the colonial (capitalist) encounter. Barna unveils a museum collection as a form of inquiry and (or on) negotiated experiences. In the process, he opened a discursive space in which a museum collection becomes a set of overlapping interests and complex economic and socio-political negotiations between individuals and objects. Departing from this position as an assumption, Kakande will re-examine the overlapping benefits in which “Schneider’s collection in Germany” took shape during the nineties. What negotiations (and assumptions) evolved within the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art while opening Schneider’s access to the “permanent collection” at Makerere University as he constituted one of the biggest “private collections” from Makerere’s “permanent collection” located outside the university and Uganda? How did a collector’s interaction with key actors at Makerere inform a creative enterprise which, though not part of Schneider’s collection itself, evolved into a kind of “pedagogy” informed by the “economies of scarcity” in which Schneider (and Roko Building Construction as a company) supplied “art materials” that were “scarce” at the university? Analysing the available archive and interviews with a collector (active during Schneider’s time), lecturers and former students will provide responses to this, and related questions. It will enrich our knowledge on the contexts in which Schneider collected the artworks in his collection.

Dr. Ozioma Onozulike works both as an artist (mainly ceramics) and art historian. He currently teaches in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at Nsukka University of Nigera.

Within the research project, Onozulike will focus on “Iwalewahaus Collection in the History of Stylistic and Conceptual Developments in Contemporary Nigerian art”. According to him, there appears to be a strong relationship between the works of the Oshogbo artists (mentored and collected by Ulli and Georgina Beier) and contemporary developments in the art of the Ona group, associated with artists trained at the Obafemi  Awolowo University , Ile-Ife. There is also a strong relationship between collections from Nsukka and current transformations in the works coming out of that region of Nigeria.  Thus he intends to explore paintings, sculptures, photographs and papers at the Iwalewahaus in the examination of aspects of the historical, stylistic and conceptual similarities and shifts in the development of modern and contemporary art in Nigeria.

Marian Nur Goni is a PhD fellow at EHESS, L’ecole des Haute Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris with a research interest in collections and photography.

Her research “Revisiting the Murumbi Collection” focuses its attention on the collection and archive of Joseph Murumbi (1911-1990), whose trajectory has been closely linked to the birth of independent Kenya. After serving briefly as Minister of Foreign affairs and as second Vice-president of Kenya (1965-1966), Joseph Murumbi devoted his entire life to African arts and heritage. In 1981, a Unesco report evaluated his collection (made up of ethnographic artefacts from Kenya and art works – mostly sculpturesand paintings – from Central and East Africa) of about 1 100 objects. More recently, in an article aptly titled “Joseph Murumbi, A pioneer collector”, Wanjiru Ndungu states that “There is simply no other collection of its kind in Africa”. She goes on by arguing: “There was also no other collector of Murumbi’s stature in sub-Saharan Africa with such a huge personal collection of African arts.” (1) Given the depth of Murumbi’s vision, who dreamt that his collection could become the core of a panafrican centre for African studies, it seems odd that, to date no academic work has been directed towards this extraordinary experience which implied connections and flows of people and objects between different countries and continents. Indeed, it seems particularly urgent to turn our eyes to his gestures today, at a time when contemporary African art more and more attracts the attention of major public museums, private galleries and fairs in the North, the very place where African art is preserved, marketed, framed and written about, with the risk, once again, of creating new potentially “dangerous” exclusions. This project seeks not only to better understand the painful partition of the Murumbi’s collection from the late 70s and how the postcolonial state has dealt and deals with this collection and legacy (a Murumbi gallery has been inaugurated at the National Archives in 2006) but also to work on the process of the foundation and creation of his collection and gallery – African Heritage – which he founded in Nairobi in 1972 with his wife Sheila and Alan Donovan; how did they function exactly? What were their networks? What impacts did they leave on the artistic scene in Nairobi and in East Africa? Of particular interest to me is also Murumbi’s strong panafrican option: what did this mean exactly then and how can this resonate with present concerns and desires?

(1) Wanjiru Ndungu, « Joseph Murumbi, A pioneer collector », New African Magazine, October 29, 2013.

Junior Guest Researcher:

Rose Jepkorir (Nairobi)

Associated Researchers:

Shirabe Ogata is a Research Fellow in the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Her focus for this project will be on the impact of German individuals and institutions on production of arts and intentions of artists who live and work in Ile-Ife, southwestern Nigeria. It is based on research on artists in Ile-Ife including Oshogbo artists from 2003 to 2015. Oshogbo artists were ‘found’ and encouraged by a German scholar Ulli Beier and his associates from the mid-1950s to late 1990s. Several Oshogbo artists live in Ile-Ife, which is geographically very close to Oshogbo and made vibrant by the few thousand people at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and overseas visitors to the university. Whether or not they call themselves Oshogbo artists, quite a number of contemporary artists in Ile-Ife have been influenced by Oshogbo artists. Influenced areas vary from the style and subject matter of artists’ works to their intentions of patronage. Some artists often draw upon styles of the first and second generation of Oshogbo artists, while others dare not do as such but try to identify their works as different from those of Oshogbo. However, the most crucial influence in question may be the change of relationship between artists and patrons, that is, artists living in Ile-Ife and German individuals and institutions. This is related to the impact of Ulli Beier and his associates on the earlier generation of Oshogbo artists, and in consequence, contemporary artists’ intention to produce artworks to be appreciated and purchased by foreigners or ‘whites’. This research will examine the legacy of Oshogbo art movement in Ile-Ife after 2000 with focus on individuals and institutions on both Nigerian and German sides. Observing various viewpoints of individual artists and patrons, it will trace how their relationship has been continuing and changing. This should give us an opportunity to rethink African art that is produced and received with an intimate relationship between local artists in Africa and individuals and institutions in Europe.

Dr. Polly Savage is teaching art history at SOAS, University of London.

Moses Serubiri works as a freelance writer and curator from Kampala and New York.

Associated Artists:

Talya Lubinsky (Johannesburg)

Peterson Kamwathi (Nairobi)

Individual Research Projects

The core team as listed here engages within the project’s whole with individual research topics


Dr. Nadine Siegert is Deputy Director, Curator and Lecturer at Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth, Project Leader at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies and Project Leader of the Research and Exhibition Project ‘Mashup the Archive’ (funded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes). She studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Mainz, where she worked in the African Music Archive until 2008. Her PhD project was on Angolan Contemporary Art Production at the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies. She curated a number of exhibitions such as GhostBusters I and II (Berlin), Kiluanji Kia Henda: Portraits from a Slippery Look (Nairobi) or António Ole: Hidden Pages, Stolen Bodies (Bayreuth).

Nadine Siegert will study utopian and dystopian formulations of the future within a number of selected artworks. In particular, attention will be given to the shift from topics related to euphoria in the context of the independence of the African states towards a more negative perspective on politics and society in the 1980s, as well as the ruptures and continuities in the iconography. She will also coordinate and organize the project, supervise the accounting and facilitate continuous communication between all the project partners. She will also coordinate the editing of the publications as well as the public outreach on the digital platform and the lecture series.

Katharina Greven (Dipl. & MA) is a Junior Fellow at the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) working on a PhD project about images created by art patrons in Africa in the Modern epoch. In 2012 she replaced the Deputy Director of Iwalewahaus during paternity leave. From 2008 to 2012 she worked as a Program Assistant at the Goethe-Institut Nairobi. She studied Free Art (focus: Photography) at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf with Thomas Ruff, Peter Doig and George Herold, became Meisterschüler in 2006, graduated with a diploma in 2007, and thereafter studied African Language Studies at the University of Bayreuth with a focus on Swahili and sociolinguistics for her master´s degree, which she completed in 2012.

The project A Place of Belonging – The ‘Phantasy Africa’ within the Archive of the European Art Patrons Ulli and Georgina Beier deals with images sensu lato produced by the European art patron, literary critic, linguist and teacher Ulli Beier and his wife, the artist Georgina Beier, who lived in Nigeria from 1950 to 1967, and again from 1974 to 1978. Their archive includes a collection of predominantly modern art from Africa, various documents and photos, and the institutions they created in Nigeria (as well as in Papua New Guinea, Germany and Australia). It also includes mental images, imbedded in the author’s mind, and, for example, impressions, sensations, inspirations and memories, which are reflected in narrations and interviews and are also manifested in the archive as a whole. The archive shows first of all how the Beiers generated their own image of Africa developed during the time they lived in Nigeria and how they perceived their own role within the emerging art scene as well as the construction of the ‘modern artist’. However, these matters were clearly linked to the political climate in the newly independent Nigeria, to the emerging generation of postcolonial intellectuals, and to the merging of different narrations and interpretation of individual and collective histories. The archive of the Beiers is vast, not only concerning its material manifestations, but also as an organic construct, which evolved and changed throughout time, due to encounters and experiences of all the people involved. The images are fragments produced in memories, in which past and present, the self and the other converges. Connected with other images from the archive, they reveal underlying networks, which feed any archive and shape it as much as the collector her/ or himself. The excessive gathering and production of images by G. and U. Beier is not only a testimony of their artistic and political agenda, but also a testimony of their personal search for a ‘new home’: a place of belonging and existence, where they could live their phantasies and fulfill their desires.

Dr. George Kyeyune is an Associate Professor at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University. He is also the Director of the Institute of Heritage Conservation and restoration, Makerere University. In 2003, he completed his PhD in African Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he examined trends in Uganda’s Contemporary Art. George Kyeyune is also a practicing artist with several monuments in Uganda to his credit. In 2005, he became head of the department of Sculpture and in 2006, he was appointed as Dean at the Margaret Trowell School of Industry and Fine Arts. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2012-2013 and a Commonwealth Fellowship in 2013-2014.

George Kyeyune will investigate how the Makerere and Weltkulturen Museum collections have been assembled, identifying points convergence and departure. Insights into the motivation of  Ugandan art in terms of its production, display and consumption will emerge. The 1990s in which much of the collection at Franfurt was acquired has a strong bearing on the Uganda’s art in the last 15 years. Kyeyune is currently investigating the recent trend of invigorated patronage for art on the private sector, government departments and Uganda’s emerging middle class and the project will enrich it and ensure its early completion. Uganda’s art in the last 15 years will constitute the last major part in his publication which examines contemporary art in Uganda.

Katrin Peters-Klaphake (MA) is curator at Makerere Art Gallery/Institute for Heritage Conservation and Restoration (IHCR) and lecturer at Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts (MTSIFA), Makerere University, Kampala. Before moving to Uganda in 2009 she served as curator for Photography at the German Historical Museum, Berlin. She is in charge of the exhibition program and care of the gallery’s art collection. Among others, she co-curated the local section of the exhibition project ‘Visionary Africa – Art at Work 2012’ in Kampala and was a founding member of the Kampala contemporary art festival KLA ART 012 in the same year. Current activities include collaboration with the History In Progress Uganda project on the documentation of the Ham Mukasa Archives for the Endangered Archives Programme by the British Library, being part of the curatorial team of the pan-African Photographer’s Portfolio Meetings, run by the Goethe Institute of South Africa in Johannesburg, and serving as a jury member for the annual Uganda Press Photo Award. Recently, she co-authored ‘Just Ask! From Africa to Zeitgeist’ (ed. by Simon Njami, Berlin 2014), a handbook style publication for photographers.

Katrin Peters-Klaphake is working on a doctoral thesis on the subject of entangled collection histories focusing on art by Ugandan artists primarily in collections of German collectors. Some of those private collections have become part of the museum collections at the Museum of World Cultures in Frankfurt/Main and Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth, others are still with their owners or their families. In some cases there are also links to other European collections, for example the one of Robert Loder in London. Since the archive at Makerere Art Gallery is a source collection, comparing it with the others, which in many cases drew from this source, will be a core element of the study. The research aim here is the examination of the trajectories of individual objects as well as the transition of collections, but also a questioning of the blind spots. She will retrieve and/or revisit encounters of individual agents through personal histories and memories of artists and collectors. Another import part will be an exploration of the very under-documented history of exhibition practices in Uganda and of art from Uganda abroad. Exhibitions often triggered the sale of artworks, and accompanying catalogues or reviews if existent provide some contemporary writing on individual pieces and artists as well as on the way the exhibitors framed the presentation. While exhibitions are based on selection and mediation of a narrative, collections contain a surplus and parallelism of stories and meanings. Collections as multi-facetted repositories of – at times quite diverse – objects have their own living history and can be considered as agencies in their own right. By taking the element of micro-histories on all sides into consideration, the author intends to contribute critically to art historical discourses. Herein the study of the collections in question allows for and requires a framework that argues in a perspective of multi-centred modernities and acknowledges the contingency of collections.

Dr. Smooth Nwezi-Ugochukwu was born in Nigeria, trained as a sculptor under the supervision of El Anatsui at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he earned a BA in Fine and Applied Art. He received a postgraduate diploma in the African Program in Museum and Heritage Studies from the University of Western Cape, South Africa, and a PhD in Art History from Emory University, Atlanta, USA. Nzewi was the Curator of African Art at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Currently, je is the curator for African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. In addition to his parallel practices as visual artist, critic, and art historian, Nzewi has curated exhibitions in Nigeria, South Africa, United States, and Senegal. He was the curator of Dak’Art 2014 with Elise Atangana and Abdelkader Damani. He has published book chapters and catalogue essays, as well as articles and exhibition reviews in reputable art journals and magazines, including African Arts, Studio, World Art and SAVVY.

His contribution to the project will focus on research on Nigerian Modernism at Iwalewahaus, 1980-Present. The key argument scholars of twentieth-Century African art modernism make is about its multiple temporal and spatial configurations, and how it encompasses global, international, transnational, cross-cultural, and disparate local contexts. As such, the term African modernism, as a singular descriptive label, may well be a misnomer. The emergence of nation-states in postcolonial Africa helped to fashion national modernisms out of the multivalent idiosyncratic sensibilities of the different cultural groupings in each of the countries.  These many modernisms would evolve as the countries grappled with the vicious cycles of nation building, shifting from the promises of political independence to the nightmarish realism of the post colony. The 1980s was a decade of transition in the fields of culture and the arts as a result of changes in the economic and political fortunes in many African countries. It was also in that period that the notion of the artist as entrepreneur in the context of modern African art fully gained ground.  Artists began to seek career advancements in and beyond their countries of origin. Nzewi-Ugochukwu’s research project focuses on works by Nigerian artists in the Iwalewahaus Collection. Many of them who embraced the entrepreneurial logic were artists-in-residence at Iwalewahaus in the 1980s. The research is twofold. First, Nzewi-Ugochukwu is interested in their time in Bayreuth and how the Nigerian and German contexts reflect in the works they produced.  Second, he am interested in the portrait of Nigeria and Nigerian art that has emerged at Iwalewahaus as a result of the activities of these artists, their works, as well as the collecting practice of Ulli Beier and those who succeeded him from the 1980s to present.

Junior Researchers:

Lena Naumann (MA) has a research interest in Susanne Wenger’s ouevre with respect of the New Sacred Art Movement in Oshogbo. She also works as assistant to the directorship at Iwalewahaus and  is coordinator of the Ulli Beier estate.

Hasifah Mukyala (MA) works as the coordinator at the Makerere Art Gallery in Kampala. Her research focuses on the artist Kefa Sempangi whose works are part of the collections on campus.

Siegrun Salmanian (MA) is a curator at Iwalewahaus. She is currently doing research within the field of modern Sudanese art history and develops her PhD project.

Master Students:

Lara Buchmann

Martha Kazungu