At NYU's King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, a new project seeks to explore how memories are appropriated, stored, and brought back out again as part of a prolonged and often violent history of the colonial legacies of Equatorial Guinea and Spain.

Line drawing of a calf and foot
Museu Etnològic i Cultures del Món

Gabinete Fang, or the “Fang Cabinet,” is a project that seeks to explore how memories (historical and personal, national and institutional, archival and artistic, oral and corporeal) are drawn, appropriated, stored, and brought back out again as part of a prolonged and often violent history of the colonial legacies of Equatorial Guinea and Spain—and how the institutional placement of those records contain hidden or “tacit” stories that move across time and place, into the present.

Coordinated by Jorge Blasco, NYU’s King Joan Carlos Center Scholar-in-Residence for 2023-24, the project is part of a yearlong inquiry that began in Spring 2023 with an undergraduate seminar and extends through this academic year with an exhibition, website, roundtable, and various lectures. The project was undertaken with the cooperation of Barcelona’s Museu Etnològic i Cultures del Món (Museum of Ethnology and World Cultures.), home to a unique collection of archival documents, including catalog cards that feature tattoos of the Fang people from Equatorial Guinea. These catalog cards were created by José Barberá Farrás, who based them on the original drawings made by the Catalan primatologist Jordi Sabater i Pi during the 1950s, during Francisco Franco's dictatorship. The questions raised by these documents are further extended by their historical journey through the museum’s archive and later through their exhibition and (re)publication.

The exhibition and accompanying website were developed in collaboration with NYU students and include the reproduction of a selection of these archival cards accompanied by texts by academics and non-academics, with contributions by NYU students, leading scholars, and a young Equatoguinean named Estela del Carmen Mbessa Alais from L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, near Barcelona, Spain.

·         Thursday, Sept. 28, 6 p.m.: Gabinete Fang, Exhibition Opening7 p.m.: Roundtable discussion about the origin, context, and response to the Gabinete Fang project with Jorge Blasco, Benita Sampedro (Hofstra), and Jane Anderson (NYU). In English.

·         Friday, Sept. 29, 3-5 p.m.: Jorge Blasco in conversation with Mario Rufer (KJCC Andrés Belo Chair) about history, memory and representation in relation to the Gabinete Fang. Part of the “Fridays on the Patio” series. In English.

·         Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m.: “Colonizing Gestures and the Colonial Gaze in Images of Equatorial Guinea.” Lecture by Caroline Colquhoun (U. of Alaska).  In English.

Website: Gabinete Fang 

All events at NYU KJCC, 53 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, Kjcc.org

Free and open to the public. No registration required.

 Co-sponsors: NYU Arts and Science, Center for the Humanities, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Center for the Study of Africa and the African Diaspora

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