“Engraving the World: Rupestrian Art and Migration in South and Central Africa”


 Seminar with Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz

DATE: Thursday, 11 August 2016

 TIME: 13:00 – 14:30

“Engraving the World: Rupestrian Art and Migration in South and Central Africa”

The lecture will focus on agency in Kongo society, exploring a complex state of social development in which legal, political, religious and visual systems motivate responses to and interpretations of Kongo cultural principles in the Atlantic world. Martinez-Ruiz will argue that the myriad forms of communication known as Ndinga i Sinsu seamlessly integrate into a wide range of audio and visual communicative techniques that he terms ‘graphic writing systems’. Such systems also include proverbs, mambos, syncopated rhythms, a large variety of written symbols, and oral traditions that are rich sources of cultural and social histories, religious beliefs, myths, and other expressions of the shared Bakongo worldview. The lecture will incorporate key examples gathered through fieldwork among the Kongo people in northern Angola, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo and within Kongo-based religious traditions in the Americas.


Dr. Martinez-Ruiz earned his B.A. from Havana University in 1994 and his Ph.D. from Yale in 2004. He is an Art Historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual, and religious practices. After holding positions at Havana’s High Institute of Art from 1993-1997, the Rhode Island School of Design from 2002-2004 and in Stanford University’s Department of Art and Art History from 2004-2013, Dr. Martinez-Ruiz came to the University Of Cape Town in 2014. His latest book is “Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign” (Temple University Press, 2013). Current curatorial projects and publications include Visual Thinking: The New Art of Chuck Close, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Spain 2016 and Iziko South Africa National Gallery, Cape Town 2017, Spirituality in the Art of the Caribbean, Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles 2017 and Unwrapping the Universe: Kongo Art and Cosmology in Central Africa, The Ethnographic Museum, Geneva, The Tropenmuseum, Holland and The Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium, 2018. D. Martinez-Ruiz also serves as editor for the Cuban Studies Magazine and for Harvard University’s Transition magazine and is a Pacific Standard Time LA/LA research fellow from 2014-2017 at The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles California.

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