African Studies Seminar Week 1

Convener: Prof Rebekah Lee

Speaker: Riason Naidoo

Curating contemporary African art in the public space in Saint-Denis (Paris)


Curated by Riason Naidoo, neuf-3 was a socially engaged contemporary African art exhibition inaugurated in July 2021 in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis and which endured 18 months until 5 January 2023 .


William Kentridge’s portrait of Frantz Fanon, Samuel Fosso’s self-portrait photographs after leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s paintings inspired by family archives,  Barthélémy Toguo’s heavy wooden stamps on immigration and discrimination, or Dalila Dalléas Bouzar’s portraits of Algerian women, are only some of the works by the thirteen participating artists displayed in the streets, on shop fronts, in the niches of historic buildings, in public squares and around the train and tram stations.


Over the last century, Paris has been home to Black intellectuals and artists from Africa and the diaspora. Despite this, many of the African visual artists who came to Paris then, and since, have gained recognition more easily elsewhere; the city’s institutions have remained closed to them. In this seminar, Naidoo will reflect on his current research that led to the creation of the project, the selection of the participating artists, artworks and sites and the politics of curating contemporary African art in the French metropole. He will further explore the ephemeral nature of this public art exhibition, its challenges and opportunities, its reception, and its afterlife. 


kudzani violet hwami 3

Two local residents in front of a work by Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s Sisi neMwana (2017) on the window of the café ‘Au Comptoir de la Gare’ opposite the Saint-Denis train station


Instagram: neuf3_public_art / Facebook: neuf 3 – a public art project in Saint-Denis, Paris


Riason Naidoo is an independent curator, writer, researcher and artist. He was director of the South African National Gallery (2009-2015) and director of the South Africa-Mali Project Timbuktu Manuscripts (2003-2009).