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Nok, Nigeria
Kneeling Figure with Arm Lifted
900 BC-200 AD
National Museum, Lagos
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Monaco, Africa
by Carlo McCormick

Geography is both irrelevant and undeniably important when it comes to culture. No, the "Monaco" of our title is not some embattled island off the coast of Africa -- it is, of course, Europe’s smallest and quite possibly richest nation (next to the Vatican, which doesn’t open its books), lying in the splendor of the French Riviera. For its grand fifth anniversary celebration as Monaco’s single institution dedicated to contemporary art, the Grimaldi Forum unveiled a monumental tribute to the "Arts of Africa," July 16-Sept. 4, 2005. For anyone interested in taking the measure of globalism in the arts, understanding the vast power of cultural tourism, examining the ongoing convergence of museum and corporate space, or investigating the ways in which the "foreign" continues to operate as spectacle, "Arts of Africa" is a lexicon of everything brilliant and bothersome about these contemporary issues.