Mapping Senufo: Art, Evidence, and the Production of Knowledge

Mapping Senufo: Art, Evidence, and the Production of Knowledge­—a collaborative, in-progress, born-digital publication project—began with a shared interest in tracking specific place-based information for individual objects in a corpus of West African art recognized as Senufo. The project team worked to realize a relational database that captured details and relationships we found salient in our initial efforts to plot points. As we pored over information that we gathered for the database, including evidence to support attributions of objects to named artists, we noticed most available inputs required qualifiers. Instead of glossing over discrepancies in the details before us, we decided to make the subjective and iterative nature of knowledge production a centerpiece of the project. Another key aspect of Mapping Senufo is that as its co-authors and co-directors, we do not always agree on core concepts or analyses related to the study of Senufo arts. We are also repeatedly confronted with the impossibility of resolving our disparate perspectives into a single viewpoint. In this workshop, we will reflect on the collaborative process and its generative potential.

Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi is Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University. She has conducted extensive archival, field, and object-centered research in Africa, Europe, and North America. She published her first book Senufo Unbound: Dynamics of Art and Identity in West Africa (2014) in conjunction with a major international exhibition organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Constantine Petridis is Chair and Curator of Arts of Africa at the Art Institute of Chicago. He has previously held curatorial positions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. His recent publications include the monograph Luluwa: Central African Art Between Heaven and Earth (2018) and the edited volume Speaking of Objects: African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (2020).

Organised by Dr Stephen Whiteman (The Courtauld) and Dr Austin Nevin (The Courtauld) as part of their Frank Davis Memorial Lecture series titled ‘Art History Futures: At the Junction of the Digital and Material Turns’. 

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5 Oct 2022

Wednesday 5th October 2022, 2pm - 5pm

Free, very limited space, booking essential

Vernon Square campus


Black outline drawings of people with text written over the top
Mark Addison Smith. Page showing a possible design that combines hand-rendered text with images created after photographs in the Michel Convers photographic collection now at the musée du quai Branly—Jacques Chirac in Paris, from Mood Boards + Design Experiments for Mapping Senufo, 31 January 2020.