Koyo Kouoh

Profile image Koyo-Kouoh_cr Andile Buka

Koyo Kouoh is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town since May 2019. Prior to this appointment, she was the founding Artistic Director of RAW Material Company, a centre for art, knowledge and society in Dakar, Senegal.

She has organised meaningful and timely exhibitions such as Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Works of Six African Women Artists, first shown at Wiels in Brussels, Belgium in 2015. She curated Still (the) Barbarians, 37th EVA International, the Ireland Biennal in Limerick in 2016 and participated in the 57th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, with the deeply researched exhibition project Dig Where You Stand (2018), a show within a show, drawn from the collections of the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History. She was the initiator of the research project Saving Bruce Lee: African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy, co-curated with Rasha Salti at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Russia, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Germany (2015-2018).

Active in the critical field of the arts community in a pan-African and international scope, Kouoh has a remarkable list of publications under her name, including When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting (2022), which accompanied the show by the same title that opened at Zeitz MOCAA in November 2022; Shooting Down Babylon (2022), the first monograph of the work of South African artist Tracey Rose; Breathing Out of School: RAW Académie (2021); Condition Report on Art History in Africa (2020); Word!Word?Word! Issa Samb and The Undecipherable Form (2013); and Condition Report on Building Art Institutions in Africa (2012), to name a few. She has served as Curator of the Educational and Artistic Programme of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, United Kingdom and New York, United States, from 2013 to 2017 as well as on the curatorial teams for documenta 12 (2007) and documenta 13 (2012). Kouoh is the recipient of the Grand Prix Meret Oppenheim 2020, the Swiss Grand Award for Art that honours achievements in the fields of art, architecture, critique, and exhibitions.

During her tenure at Zeitz MOCAA, her curatorial work focuses on in-depth solo exhibitions by African and African-descent artists. As such, she has organised exhibitions with Otobong Nkanga, Johannes Phokela, Senzeni Marasela, Abdoulaye Konaté, Tracey Rose, and Mary Evans. She lives and works alternately in Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; and Basel, Switzerland.

Image credit: Andile Buka