Osei Bonsu at the Business of Art Society
The Courtauld's Business of Art Society (also known as BoAS) might immediately give the impression that it is a society very focused on the commercial careers of the art history world. BoAS does organise events based on the classically commercial: auction housing, advising and dealership. Yet, alongside this runs a thread of lectures that broaden the whole idea of what the business of art can and does include, like careers in law. Their most recent lecture was given by Osei Bonsu, curator at Tate Modern since September this year. As somebody who was excited to talk to us, as budding art historians, his lecture was a fantastic culmination to this term's (and 2019's) BoAS events.
Fresh into his new job role, Bonsu launched into the timeline of his career path, explaining how he ended up at his current position as Curator of African Acquisitions at Tate. It was largely due to his interest in the conditions and problems surrounding African art. How should we locate Africa on a world map? What are the conditions of Africaneity? Since completing his Master's degree at UCL, a university he chose over the Courtauld due to the lack of African art course modules offered here, Bonsu allowed his passion for his field to navigate the tricky career-formation phase; all that networking and unpaid internship work (thankfully illegal for us now). But it was attending events, meeting new people, and spending time with artists that upheld the curation motivation.
A piece of advice? Hang out with artists. Visit their studios and you will unconsciously begin curating. In fact, it was in a studio that Osei made the connections to jumpstart his career with an internship at the Saatchi Gallery, exhibiting an artist he knew there.