Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World (2000)

ISSN: 1525-447X


Nkiru Nzegwu

African sculptures are making major public appearances as décor pieces in hip television shows, Fraser, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Will and Grace, in the homes of affluent and less affluent citizens, in glamour magazines, on the covers of journals, publishers' announcements, and on conference/colloquium schedules. In the New World, notably Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the United States, Candomblé, Orisha Worship, Santeria, and Vodun have become powerful expressive forces of change, compelling the emergence of new aesthetics and new kinds of artistic expression and interpretations. On the continent, by contrast, the reverse is the case. African indigenous religion, social values and norms are under assault, through sweeping constructions of them as reprobate, unprogressive and obdurate. This attack is justified by disseminating pictures of atrocities inflicted upon the local populations by depraved soldiers who invoke spurious cultural traditions to justify monstrous act. Matters are further complicated as the stringent economic programs recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), drive people into intolerant fundamentalist strains of Christianity and Islam. Living under extreme social conditions that, ordinarily would constrain the full flourishing of human imagination, artists on the continent are valiantly producing works that are either reflective of, or transcend the existential madness of their lives. As vital documents of Africans' responses to contemporary processes of globalization and the effects of "free" trade, these works of will power are very much sort after.

Although the trajectories of creative expression are different in Africa and the Diaspora, what is indisputable is that new visual vocabularies are emerging, calling for a new language of art. Fresh interpretations are required to make sense of new and refurbished relationships between art and spirituality, art and memory, art and embodiment, art and performance, art and sexuality, and art and power. The unprecedented interest in African-inspired forms, motifs and stylistic traits in different regions of the world visibly marks the presence of a burgeoning constituency that demands to be served. Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World is a multi-disciplinary journal conceived to address this audience. A fully refereed electronic journal, Ijele: Art eJournal seeks to publish original research and articles on modern and contemporary art and photography, iconography, symbolism, and aesthetics of Africa and of African artists around the world. This encompasses all regions where artists of Africa and African descent reside, including Europe, Canada, United States, Central America, Caribbean, South America, Australia, and Asia. Given that this scope is of the entire world, Ijele: Art eJournal, is interested in publishing articles that address various kinds and expressions of intercultural contacts between Africa's creative expression and those of other cultures. Our aim is to facilitate productive exchanges among enthusiasts, scholars and artists in diverse regions of the world. Maintaining the highest standards of scholarship and academic excellence, Ijele: Art eJournal will be accessible to a growing audience of scholars, museum officials, students, and educational institutions around the world exclusively through the Internet. It will endeavor to represent a rich array of colour images of works of art in each issue.

Ijele: Art eJournal provides a global forum for showcasing and discussing contemporary art of Africa, works of artists of African descent, and works of artists of any nation who draw inspiration from the motifs, patterns and symbolism of Africa's indigenous art. Through selections, it will explore the context and use of African symbolism and iconography in the works of artists of other cultures as well as publish informed cutting-edge research and critical ideas about African art, aesthetics, architecture and photography. Our objective is to meet readers' needs for refereed original research articles and critical commentaries and to present well- illustrated articles for a general audience without compromising the needs of specialists. Each issue will cover important issues in history, culture, philosophy, society and artists' ideas about creativity; provide socially and historically grounded analyses of works; and present the portfolios of artists' accompanied by personal statements of the critical issues the artist is engaged in. We consider it crucial to introduce artists to a wider audience by means of interviews.

Ijele: Art eJournal promises to passionately engage and contribute to rethinking African and African Diaspora art and studies in the new millenium. We welcome essays that are focused on modern and contemporary art but are not limited to them. Ijele: Art eJournal has a theoretically progressive notion of `contemporary'. We will publish judicious contemporary interpretations of 17th century Benin art as well as interpretations of art that disregard European categorization and construction of art. Consequently, we are interested in receiving critical essays on aesthetics, art, architecture, and photography, visual and cultural expressions and performance, from the Caribbean, Central and South America. Additionally, we especially welcome contributions that establish connections between African and Diaspora sites of art making. Lastly, in addition to original research, interviews with artists, exhibition and book reviews, Ijele: Art eJournal will publish letters, news and notes (which will include a digest of art happenings in and outside the region), a calendar of relevant art activities, notices and announcements of conferences, exchange and fellowship opportunities.

© Copyright 2000 Africa Resource Center.

Citation Format

Nzegwu, Nkiru. (2000). EDITORIAL. Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World: 1 , 1.