Iolanda Pensa (1975) is a researcher and art critic. She is Swiss and Italian. She lives in Milan (Italy) and works in Ticino (Switzerland) with an Italian mobile phone, a Swiss office and two passports.
Training. University degree in Medieval art history at the Catholic University of Milan (Literature and Philosophy, Modern Literature, 2003). Ph.D. in Social anthropology and ethnology and in Territorial government and planning at the EHESS École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Parigi in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano Department of Architecture and Urban Planning (2011).
Experiences. Researcher for “Africa e Mediterraneo” (2002-2006). Founder and board member of iStrike Foundation in Rotterdam (2005-2008). Professor of Art economy at NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano (2007-2011) and correspondent for Africa for “Domus” magazine (2011-2012). Scientific director at lettera27 Foundation in Milan (2007-2012) for the projects “WikiAfrica: Increasing the quality and quantity of African content on Wikipedia” and “Share Your Knowledge: Creative Commons and Wikipedia for Cultural Institutions”. Researcher at the Laboratory of Visual Culture / Department for Environment Constructions and Design / SUPSI University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (2013-), Artistic director of Associazione Amici del Museo delle Grigne Onlus (2007-), Coordinator of Ecomuseo delle Grigne (2010-), lead Wikimania Esino Lario 2016.
Research interests. Systems of knowledge production and distributions in Africa; innovative interfaces for education; assessment of cultural institutions, GLAMs and public art; the impact of international grant-makers on culture in Africa; Wikipedia; the Dakar Biennale of Contemporary African Art.
Main publications about contemporary African art, biennials and the art system:
- Public Art in Africa. Art et transformations urbaines à Douala /// Art and Urban Transformations in Douala, ed. Iolanda Pensa with Marta Pucciarelli, Fiona Siegenthaler, Marilyn Douala Bell, Kamel Verschuren, Xandra Nibbeling, Lucas Grandin, Asta Adukaite, Maud de la Chapelle, MetisPresses, 2017.
- Pensa, Iolanda (2017). System Error. Art as a space to produce what we would never have thought we needed in Contemporary Perspectives in Art and International Development, eds. Polly Stupples and Katerina Teaiwa, Routledge, 2017, pp. 104-117.
- I’ll have a project. How international grants and cultural cooperation have shaped contemporary African art into a project made of objectives, activities and expected results in “Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics”, 2013. English, Norwegian.
- Make it sexy. La promozione dell’arte contemporanea africana in L’arte etnica tra cultura e mercato, eds. Guido Candela and Maurizio Biordi, Skira, 2007, pp. 93-131. Versione originale in italiano.
- Les biennales et la géographie: Les biennales de Venise, du Caire et de Dakar in Créations artistiques contemporaines en pays d’Islam : des arts en tension, ed. Jocelyne Dakhlia, Paris, Kimé éditions, 2006, pp. 573-588. Français.
Main publications about Wikipedia
- Pensa, Iolanda. The need to contribute to Wikipedia. The improbability of an African Wikipedian in Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa, hosted by the Critical Technical Practice laboratory at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute in Funchal, Portugal, 02/09/2017.
- The Power of Wikipedia: Legitimacy and Control in “PMS Reader Power Money Sex”, Chimurenga and Open Society Institute of Southern Africa, 2012. English, original version in English.