Forbes Hails PNCA’s Dieng as Changemaker

March 18, 2018

Image: detail of work by Hassan Hajjaj

Forbes magazine credits artist, curator, and PNCA Professor with catalyzing change in a new review of New Feelings, an exhibition at PNCA's Center for Contemporary Art & Culture. On the show of photography from a diasporic perspective, the piece quotes Dieng saying, "there is a power in looking....How do we rearrange the system of representation so that there is also power in being seen? I wanted to exhibit photography from a strictly diasporic perspective. Africans have always been photographed, documented- but it’s fascinating to see what we see when the position shifts from being the subject to the artist.”

The writer credits Dieng and one of the galleries he draws from for this show for creating a situation that will ensure that no more will exhibitions be constituted by "the proverbial (and let me say it- expected if not boring) same five white men shown by the same five institutions."

And she sees Modou as driving change more broadly in the rest of the art world's perception of Portland as well. "Portland and the Pacific Northwest have never really been seriously considered as part of the contemporary conversation in larger hotbeds like London or New York. Contemporary art has traditionally always referenced pushing perception, definitions and boundaries only in places like New York but with the help of the Internet, an interconnectedness, and perhaps placelessness, but more importantly- Modou's vision, he is changing this." 

"The advantage of the Northwest art scene is people are still learning, people are still not afraid of asking questions, you do not need to ask permission from the established donor cliques- collectors are more curious and exploratory. They aren’t all stuck on the return investment of their balloon dogs. These communities of inquiry work only to Modou’s advantage- the shows complexities are not lost on the viewer but rather function as a stepping stone into a realization and manifestation of the large canon of contemporary art and black artist who are leading it."