Pan-African Pulp: A Commission by Meleko Mokgosi

Evaluating History and Cultures Through Narratives Both Personal And Deeply Universal.

In Pan-African Pulp, Botswana-born artist Meleko Mokgosi explores the history of Pan-Africanism, the global movement to unite ethnic groups of sub-Saharan African descent. His Vertical Gallery installation, which inaugurates a new biennial commission program at UMMA, features large-scale panels inspired by African photo novels of the 1960s and ’70s, a mural examining the complexity of blackness, posters from Pan-African movements from around the world, including those founded in Detroit and Africa in the 1960s, and stories from Setswana literature.

Pan-African Pulp vividly connects to Detroit’s deep history of activism, where organizations such as Black Nation of Islam, The Republic of New Afrika, Shrine of the Black Madonna (Black Christian Nationalism), Pan-African Congress, and United Negro Improvement Association were founded. The renewed urgency for diversity and civil rights in Detroit, and the country as a whole, heightens the relevance of Mokgosi’s project and reveals the deep connections between these historical movements and those developing today.

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Read the Gallery Guide

Storytelling is at the heart of Meleko Mokgosi’s artistic practice, which comprises painting, drawing, text-based pieces, sculpture, and installation. Learn more about Mokgosi’s process for his UMMA installation in this Gallery Guide.

Gallery Guide

Oral History Project -- Setswana Stories

Stories from Setswana literature, in the Setswana language are displayed around the ribbon of the Vertical Gallery balconies. Mokgosi told the tales to students, who were then filmed retelling them in English, in their own words. As in the game of telephone, the stories morph and evolve with each interpretation.

Gallery Images

Lead support is provided by Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan African Studies Center and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies.