Art Histories Seminar

Afonso Dias Ramos:
Iconoclasm and White Supremacy: Decolonising Visual Culture and Public Memory in South Africa and the US

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes is removed from the University of Cape Town in April 2015. Image: Mads Norgaard.

This talk attempts to make historical sense of arguably the two most controversial incidents of our time around the stake of visual images and public monuments in issues of race and representation: the #RhodesMustFall movement and the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town; and the contested appropriation of a photograph of the lynched black boy Emmett Till by a white painter, Dana Schutz, exhibited at the Whitney Biennial in New York. Aiming to throw these events into productive dialogue, the talk reconsiders these controversies from a comparative and transnational angle, in the light of current campaigns to decolonize visual culture. Specifically, it addresses contemporary debates about the politics of representing colonial history by looking at the unresolved tension and vexed articulation between the monuments that whitewash the past outside the museum, and the pictures that explicitly foreground its disturbing violence inside the museum.

Afonso Dias Ramos holds an M.A. and received his Ph.D. in the History of Art from University College London with a thesis focusing on the relationship between political violence and photography in contemporary art, exploring and confronting the recent artistic legacy of the liberation and civil wars in Angola (1961-2002) in countries such as Angola, Cuba, Portugal, South Africa, and the US. He previously studied History of Art at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV). Recent publications include the articles '"Rarely penetrated by camera or film" – NBC's Angola: Journey to War (1961)' (2017), 'Photography and Propaganda in the Late Portuguese Empire: Volkmar Wentzel's Assignments for National Geographic Magazine' (2017), 'Kongo Reframed' (2017), and 'How to Disappear Completely – The Struggle for Angola' (2017).

15 April 2019, 5:00pm

Forum Transregionale Studien

Wallotstr. 14
14193 Berlin


This event will be documented photographically and/or recorded on video. Please let us know if you do not agree with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz using images in which you might be recognizable for event documentation and public relation purposes (e.g. social media).


Our Newsletter provides you with free information on events, tenders, exhibitions and recent publications from the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please enter your name and e-mail address:

*required field

Notes on the content of the newsletter and transit procedures

This letter is sent via MailChimp, where your e-mail address and name will be saved for sending the newsletter.

Once you have completed the form, you will receive a "Double-Opt-In-E-Mail," in which you are asked to confirm your registration. You can cancel your subscription to the Newsletter at any time ("Opt-out"). You will find an unsubscribe link in every Newsletter and in the Double-Opt-in-E-Mail.

You will receive detailed information about transit procedures and your withdrawal options in our privacy policy.