Africa doesn’t feature much on our media landscape, except for Ebola and Pistorius

Katie Silver, ABC journalist; ex-CNN ex reporter/producer with Sky News Business.

You lived and worked in many different places. What is the impact of this on your work?

I have been lucky enough to have lived in a few different countries. Really, really lucky. I think it helps provide some context to the stories I later tell as well as making me more aware of stories. For instance, my interest in Latin America means I follow local blogs and see stories I wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. Also it gives me contacts should a story of international import occur.

What are some common myths about the journalism profession?

One is that you are always out and about.  I think sadly too much time is spent behind a desk nowadays.  You’re fortunate as a journalist if you work in an organisation with the resources to allow you to pursue original, resource-heavy stories. Also something people are often surprised by are the hours – overnights, weekends, early mornings etc. 24 hour news has changed things.

The news can have a big impact on people and the decisions it takes. How important is this knowledge in your work? 

Hugely, this is what my postgrad studies are in.  I think it’s a privilege that one has to continually remember. As journalists, we have the power to change what people think- but there’s a big responsibility in that as well.  Objectivity is the goal.

In what way journalism does it contribute to the understanding and promotion of African culture? 

In Australia, I wish it did more.  Sadly Africa doesn’t feature much on our media landscape, except for Ebola and Pistorius.   I love when I see stories on African music and culture.  There was a beautiful documentary recently about the resurgence of Soweto through choir.  I think stories like this are great for breaking down stereotypes.

Do you think that the perception that common people have of Africa is correct or do they need to be made more aware of it? 

I personally don’t know as much as I would like, in order to even answer this question.  I am yet to go to Africa and so my view is informed by what I see in Australia and the people I meet.  All I know is I have much to learn!

Our mission is to promote the development of Africa counteracting the lack of information about the high quality of its art and culture: what do you think about this? 

I LOVE IT!   As I said, there is so much more I want to know about Africa.  I’m really excited to have found your organisation and look forward to following what you do.


The media treats Africa as if it is the 17th century there and the 21st century here

Michael Klein, director of Michael Klein Gallery (1980s-90s) before leading Microsoft’s Art Collection. Now director of The Little Gallery

What would you like to achieve in your work?

Now that I have entered my decade of the 60s I would like to work for some 25 more years. I have always been interested in contemporary art and although the contemporary artists I championed early on are now historic figures I am still very keen on their work and where they have gone. Alice Aycock for example, was in the first museum show I organized in 1976 and today is still creating impressive monumental sculptures, installations and works on paper. Many of her installation plans have never been realized and I would like to see those built and placed in some great collections worldwide. Another is Jonathan Borofsky who I try to visit once a year to keep up with his new work; last visit I saw wonderful new paintings and wall installations. I collect his earlier work. Finally there are some book projects that I would like to develop, some individual studies on the work and career of some artists. Another is a history of Minimal painting that has yet to be explored and documented. A few years ago I curated a show entitled PAINTING IN PARTS which looked at a variety of artists whose work could be labeled Minimal, some of whom began to show in the 60s like Jo Baer and Robert Mangold and others representing a younger generation of painters aiming at the same aesthetic like Luke Frost and Yunhee Min. This could be for me a great assignment because it brings together my interest in art history and my knowledge of the art of the last fifty years.

Where too are the great museum shows about the 70s and what about the 80s? So much in those two decades laid the ground work for much today. One saw the birth of the international art world both in terms of market and events. There were overlapping generations at work: Pop artists, Minimal artists, Conceptualist, Performance and so on…all happening simultaneously and with different camps gaining different attention. Most of the artists once associated with Leo Castelli Gallery have received enormous attention others less so. It is time to look back and reevaluate the history of those two important decades. I would hope my work in the field would help to reinvigorate some of those careers.

Personally I want to continue to collect work by new talent. This year I bought works by a California painter named Mark Petersen. I found work by two Belgian artists: Alain Biltereyst and John Van Oers. And I continue my quest for Peter Schuyff’s works.

Borofsky People Tower 2008 20m Beijing

Borofsky People Tower 2008 20m Beijing

Art: Richmond Burton, Photographer: ©2014 Andy Wainwright (Andrew G.Wainwright)

Art: Richmond Burton, Photographer: ©2014 Andy Wainwright (Andrew G.Wainwright)



Ousmane Sow Untitled 1984-87

Ousmane Sow Untitled 1984-87

Rosen, Untitled Form, 2014

Of the projects that see you involved, which are the ones you care about most?

Dividing my time between promoting artists and selling art works. I care deeply about the history of art and about artists who over time have fallen between the cracks or have had little attention paid to them or their life’s work needs to be looked at again. The painter Grace Hartigan for example; Robert Mallary, a sculptor championed by the late dealer and collector Allan Stone and almost totally forgotten or the British sculptor Kenneth Armitage. I am intrigued by what turns up in collections; what discoveries are made and still can be made whether it is a work by Dan Flavin that has been quietly at home in a collection in Europe or a work on paper by Norman Lewis that reenters the marketplace five decades after it was originally made.

I am also interested in more contemporary artists who continue and need more attention: Richmond Burton, Ellen Phelan, Thom Merrick and Jane Rosen to name but four. There are many artists working today deserving of more attention and evaluation; the market is not always the best or fair judge. Smart collectors and institutions need to look beyond the headlines to find great works.

In what way an art gallery or a private collection does it contribute to the understanding and promotion of African culture?

My first exposure to African art came when I was 11 and my family travelled to Europe and Africa. We visited Morocco and I got a chance to see art there .Years later when I was Curator for the Microsoft Collection I thought it was important to add artists to the collection from all the countries the company did business in as well as translate their software. I found El Anatsui in a gallery London and wanted to buy an early work then and was also looking at William Kentridge’s prints. I felt this was just the tip of an iceberg that needed more time and research. There was a collector in Seattle who was busy collecting South African artists, it is quite a collection and peeked my interest in art being made there as well as what was happening in other countries in Africa. Many years ago on a trip to England I discovered the work of Magdelena Odundo that were on view at the Crafts Council. I learned she was from Kenya but lived and worked in England. She makes extraordinary ceramics. Her work was my introduction into contemporary African art and that was in the mid 80s.And a few years ago I was also introduced to the sculptor Ousmane Sow who now resides in Senegal. The large figurative piece was in an estate of a prominent collector.
Do you think that the perception that common people have of Africa is correct or do they need to be made more aware of it?

Americans know little of Africa. The media treats Africa as if it is the 17th century there and the 21st century here. We don’t know that there are some 54 countries exiting on the continent, the diversity of cultures and religions and the history of Africa before colonization and afterwards. Because I am a radio junkie and listen to BBC on line I follow reports on business and culture in Africa.

Comparative Literature cannot exist without intercultural communication

Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY – City University of New York



The discipline of comparative literature has been defined in a myriad of ways. What, in your view, is Comp Lit?

Comparative Literature is at its core an interdisciplinary field that studies the interactions among literary works arising from different geographical, historical, and linguistic contexts. Through our knowledge of literary history and our application of critical theory, our goal is to understand the relationships that exist among the literatures arising from diverse cultures. We examine how different literatures have influenced one another, we seek to better understand one society’s literature through the lens of another, and we endeavor to determine the commonalities inherent to all literary works, regardless of socio-political context.

What would you like to achieve in your work?

We hope to foster cross-cultural dialogue as we examine literatures arising from multiple civilizations, deriving better understanding of these societies through the examination of their artistic output. We also work to promote the Comparative Literature department’s collaboration with other disciplines originating in both the Humanities and Social Sciences in order to better comprehend literature’s intersections with ethical, historical, philosophical, and political frameworks.

Of the projects that see you involved, which are the ones you care about most?

The Comparative Literature department is very proud of its recent creation of a certificate program in Critical Theory. Critical Theory provides a framework with which one is able to read any text, whether a work of literature, an ethical code, or a sociopolitical construct. It therefore serves as a universal language to promote cross-disciplinary dialogue. The certificate is comprised of courses offered by multiple departments and is available to all doctoral candidates at the Graduate Center, so it has provided students and faculty from different programs across the Humanities and Social Sciences with an opportunity for collaboration. As part of this initiative, we created the “Critical Theory Today Lecture Series,” which has brought influential theorists such as Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Žižek to the Graduate Center.

We also hold two conferences each year, which bring scholars from all over the world to the Graduate Center to exchange their ideas. We are in the process of creating a concentration in Translation Studies, which will help us continue in our efforts to improve our understanding of language, literature, and cultural exchange.

In what way CompLit@CUNY does it contribute to the understanding and promotion of intercultural communication?

Comparative Literature cannot exist without intercultural communication, as it is built upon the interactions of different languages, geographies, and time periods. In addition to the courses our department offers, as well as the aforementioned Critical Theory certificate, Translation concentration, and conferences, the Comparative Literature program’s diverse student body prompts intercultural communication. Our students hail from over 25 different countries and speak as many languages, so the everyday interactions they have with their colleagues, both in and out of the classroom, provide them with a window into a separate and distinct culture.

Do you think that the perception that common people have of Africa is correct or do they need to be made more aware of it?

Africa is a continent with a rich literary heritage. Its many encounters with other cultures (including those of North America and Europe) have contributed to a diverse and vibrant tradition that have preserved African literature and thought while still incorporating elements of the cultures and languages that have influenced its history. Its literature reflects its unique historical tapestry and allows us to better understand Africa’s culture and philosophy.

What do you think of our mission to share the cultural vibrancy of African countries with people in Europe, America and elsewhere in the world?

We are very happy to see an initiative that seeks to stimulate the exchange of ideas and to promote a better understanding of a culture through its artistic and literary creations.

Sustainability leader: “an organisation or individual that inspires and supports action towards a better world”

Dr Wayne Visser
Senior Associate, Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
Writer at The Guardian
Professor, Gordon Institute of Business Science & Deakin University
Director, Kaleidoscope Futures
Founder, CSR International
Ranked one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior in 2013

What, in your view, is sustainability leadership?

In the research I’ve done on this topic at Cambridge University, we define a sustainability leader as “an organisation or individual that inspires and supports action towards a better world.”

What are the pillars of visionary leadership?

We have a framework on sustainability leadership that suggests that visionary leaders understand the changing global context (including all the challenges we face) and respond with certain traits, styles, skills and knowledge, translating these into actions for a better world. For example, typical traits of sustainability leaders include:
Caring / morally-driven
Systemic / holistic thinker
Enquiring / open-minded
Self-aware / empathetic
Visionary / courageous

What are the main challenges that our world must face to create a better future?

I believe the three biggest challenges we face are: 1) redesigning capitalism to have checks and balances against excessive short-termism and greed, 2) decoupling growth and environmental impact to tackle resource scarcity, biodiversity loss and climate change, i.e. achieving a circular economy, and 3) finding socio-economic and cultural-political mechanisms to reverse the trend of increasing inequality (the gaps between rich and poor).

What do you think of our mission to share the cultural vibrancy of African countries with people in Europe, America and elsewhere in the world?

I do believe we should be focused on discovering, building and promoting Africa’s distinctive contribution. What is it that Africans do well, better than anywhere else, and how can this be leveraged? I think it has something to do with their hospitable culture, together with their music, dance and style. So maybe Africa’s distinctive gift to the world is through its vibrant culture, which may manifest in the arts, fashion and tourism. Let’s stop trying to make Africa compete with China and India as a low cost producer. The continent needs to discover its source of pride and to blow the world away with its energy, its colour and its warmth.

What inspires your art and drives you to accomplish your work?

You will find some of my views on art here. Art cuts through the veneer of daily life and triggers more intuitive and primal responses. Art is the catalyst that the world desperately needs right now. I am convinced that we will not scare people into changing their lives, or caring about future generations. No amount of doomsayer facts or gloomy predictions will move the majority of people to shift their perspectives or modify their behaviour. Art is all about moving people – emotionally, ideologically, spiritually and pragmatically. Art provides what we desperately need more of, namely inspiration to act on

How does art help to make your life meaningful or fulfilling?

My art, like my poetry, allows me to create interesting worlds. Art is like magic – it describes the world around us and inside us, and by doing so, it also creates these in other people’s minds. Art is the way we share our imagination with others, and – as Einstein said – imagination is more important than knowledge. Art also allows me to capture the spirit of what inspires me – such as Africa. All forms of art, I believe, should first be for the satisfaction of the artist.

Africa: great potential for development and growth, but many in the West prefer to see problems and dangers

Merlin Linehan, Advice & analysis at and

What is for you a sustainability leadership?

I would see this as leadership which recognises a person’s or company’s civic duties, most notably to uphold and promote human rights, protect and enhance the environment and to provide opportunities through employment to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Above all to realise that running a firm is not just about profit but must seek a wider and ultimately more important goal.

What are the pillars of a visionary leadership?

I believe the pillars of visionary leadership are: firstly having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and sticking to that vision, but also having a degree of flexibility to alter course if necessary or desirable. Secondly: a leader must be able to clearly articulate his or her vision through speech, words and of course above all actions. Thirdly: a visionary leader must inspire others to follow them in their vision and help them achieve it, great accomplishments are rarely made alone, so getting others to help build a vision is vital.

What are the main challenges that our world must face to look calmly at his future?

The main challenge facing the world is achieving a balance or harmony between a dynamic economy which allows enterprise and new ideas and companies to be promoted and flourish, but at the same time ensuring social justice and environmental protection. The world has huge numbers of people aspiring to US and European lifestyles, but at the same time we are facing growing inequality and environmental disaster. How we solve these problems is the central challenge of the world today and as governments are incapable or unable to provide many of the answers, it is left to individuals, companies and civil society to rise to the challenge.

Our website is to make it clear to European and American cultural vibrancy of the world that currently exists in many African countries: what do you think about this?

I think Africa Art Org. can only be a positive thing, I think understanding Africa through its many cultures can help Europeans and Americans move away from the colonial mindset that many people still perceive Africa through.

Do you think the international community has an optimal view of the potential for development in Africa?

I believe much of the world has a positive view of Africa and its potential for development and growth, most notably in India, South America and China. However many in the West prefer to see problems and dangers such as scare stories about Ebola, natural and human disasters. Of course Africa does have many problems and these should not be ignored, but too often we only see the negatives. However I think perceptions of Africa are slowly improving overall.

Building a multicultural world

We are African women and men who struggle for a more multicultural world.

We connect young contemporary African artists, with European and American galleries and museums. We believe that creating a way to enable African artists to suceed is not only a good opportunity for them, but also a good opportunity for the us to learn to see the citizens of African countries as active and supportive of the cultural world.

There is an art made ​​by African women and men, boys and girls today.
It is a substantial part of this world and provides an opportunity for the people of Africa to participate in an active and global cultural debate.

Our group aims to stimulate the African community promoting contemporary art.

We think that the promotion of this new artistic production is a key element for the growth and modernization of the new generations.

We partner with galleries, institutions, magazines in order to increase the visibility of the new African art.