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Teju Cole. Photo by Maggie Janik.
Fazal Sheikh, The “Hope” Grasshopper. Dona Antônia’s Wish-Ribbon Bracelet. Five Centuries Work the Land at Black River. (detail), 1999, gelatin silver print, printed 2001, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Joseph M. Cohen Family Collection, 2014.156.7.
Fazal Sheikh. Photo by Alexandra Beck.

Teju Cole and Fazal Sheikh

Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography

Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography

  • Friday, March 5, 2021
  • 2:00 p.m.
  • Virtual

Teju Cole, artist, curator, novelist, photography critic for New York Times Magazine (2015–2019), and Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing, Harvard University, in conversation with Fazal Sheikh, artist and Artist-in-Residence at the Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University

Teju Cole was born in the United States in 1975. The son of Nigerian parents, he was raised in Lagos. He returned to the US to complete a BA at Kalamazoo College in Michigan followed by studies in art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London as well as at Columbia University. Cole’s work examines race, gender, migration, culture, and privilege.

Born in New York City in 1965, Fazal Sheikh earned his BA from Princeton University in 1987 and has since worked as a photographer documenting the lives of individuals in displaced and marginalized communities. Upon witnessing an increase in xenophobia and authoritarian politics on a global scale, Sheikh turned to Cole for a collaboration that would reinforce their commitment to a compassionate global community and to the importance of individual courage.

Through Cole’s words and Sheikh’s photos in the resulting book, Human Archipelago, we are confronted with fundamental and pressing questions of coexistence. Their work asks us to consider, "Who is my neighbor? Who is kin to me?"

In 2020, Cole and Sheikh created a free, online version of Human ArchipelagoAmidst a devastating pandemic and uprisings against racial injustice, its questions are more relevant than ever. In this conversation, recorded on January 19, 2021, Cole and Sheikh discuss their collaborative efforts "to find a new way of speaking to the startling reappearance of some very old problems."

This event will be available on the Gallery's YouTube page starting Friday, March 5, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.

The Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography provides a forum for leading photographers, primarily known for portraits, to discuss contemporary issues in the medium. Arnold Newman (1918–2006) is acknowledged as one of the great masters of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries whose work changed portraiture. The Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation generously supported this series to make such conversations available to the public.

The National Gallery has been honored to present The Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography since 2016 with the support of the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation. The National Gallery is thrilled to share that the Newman Foundation, which has funded the series annually since its inaugural offering, endowed it with a major gift in 2020 in order to make such conversations available to the public for years to come. We are deeply grateful for the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation’s generosity.