Fernanda Villarroel

Position title: Ph.D. Candidate

Email: villarroel@wisc.edu

2014–Present PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
2011–14 MA, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
2006–09 Professional Certification as a Social Anthropologist, Universidad de Chile, Department of Anthropology, Santiago, Chile.
2002–06 BA, Anthropology, with Honors, Universidad de Chile, Department of Anthropology, Santiago, Chile.

My interest on how structural precariousness have engendered particular forms of art and visual culture in Africa’s largest megacity emerged from my own lived experiences growing up in the grief-stricken wake of a violent dictatorship. I first came to Lagos while working as an independent consultant in Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia (2008–10). Through my graduate studies I have focused on Postcolonial Studies, African History, the History of Photography, Critical Black Studies, and Feminism. Contemporary art in Lagos became the core of my dissertation research as a middle ground to explore the relationship between historical knowledge and lived practice, within a context that is simultaneously personal and political, public and private, global and local.


Research Interests
This project focuses on the ethical and aesthetic need for devising new languages for the feminine among contemporary Nigerian artists, working within structures of production and circulation in Lagos. Drawing from an understanding of figurations as living maps of a changing but politically informed position, I conceive the feminine not as the reification of a binary, but rather as an exercise of freedom embracing practices of fugitivity. In this way, I illustrate how Taiye Idahor’s works on paper, Rahima Gambo’s poetic archives, and Jelili Atiku’s street performances produce figurations of the feminine with material remains from lost, undervalued, or disavowed epistemologies. Such figurations are a means to explore the possibilities for transnational feminism and the revaluation of black lives.

-Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Memorial Fund Fellowship from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2021–22)
-Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2020–21)
-American Association of University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Fellowship (2020–21 Declined)
-Pantzer Fund Art History Department UW-Madison (2019)
-Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctoral Workshop (2019)
-Fulbright-Hays D.D.R.A. (2017–18)
-Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship (2017)
-Chancellor’s Fellowship, UW-Madison (2017)

Art History 409/ Spring 2020 Topics in Contemporary Art
New Media: Perspectives from Africa, Latin America and the Global Diaspora

Primary Advisor(s)
Jill H. Casid