On January 26, 2019 The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University celebrated the opening of the exhibition “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time.”Caravans of Gold is the first major exhibition addressing the scope of Saharan trade and the shared history of West Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe from the eighth to sixteenth centuries. Weaving stories about interconnected histories, the exhibition showcases the objects and ideas that connected at the crossroads of the medieval Sahara and celebrates West Africa’s historic and under-recognized global significance.
Presenting more than 250 artworks spanning five centuries and a vast geographic expanse, the exhibition features unprecedented loans from partner institutions in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria, many of which are seen in North America for the first time. The Block is proud to share the opening conversation in its entirety.
Watch: Scenes from the Opening Day
Watch: Opening Performance by Morikeba Kouyate
Morikeba Kouyate is a seventh-generation Jali (Griot) and has performed professionally for more than thirty years. Morikeba performs around the country as a solo artist, enticing audiences young and old with exciting music and engaging stories. He performs in his traditional Mandingo language. Morikeba Kouyate has recorded two CDs. The legendary performer set the stage for a celebration of African history
Watch: Opening Conversation
Renowned speakers included Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of the
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. and host
of the BBC’s Lost Kingdoms of Africa and Chris Abani, Nigerian-born
novelist, poet, and essayist and winner of the 2009 Guggenheim Award.
They were joined by Caravans of Gold curator Kathleen Bickford
Berzock, the Block’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs. Taking up
themes from the exhibition, this panel considered the relationships
between history, power, and imagination, considering what trans-Saharan
exchange from the distant past can tell us about movement and migration