Talks: Artist-led initiatives in Africa
- 2.30 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.
On this occasion of AFRICA2020 season and in line Art/Africa exhibition organised in 2017, with the the Fondation Louis Vuitton is organising a programme of talks dedicated to artist-led initiatives in Africa. Over the last few years, a number of artists have initiated and developed projects in parallel of their artistic practice in the field of visual art. Taking on multitude of forms – within art centers, multidisciplinary spaces, residencies, galleries, workshops, studios, schools, biennials, and festivals- these initiatives respond to the specific needs of their surrounding communities. Fostering collaboration, experimentation, reflection, dialogue, sharing, and transmission, they act as essential hubs for creation at the local and international levels.
Elvira Dyangani Ose
This programme of talks features a focus on six projects founded over the last two decades in various African countries: Picha asbl (Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo), Addis Foto Fest (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Darb 1718 (Cairo, Egypte), Aria (Algiers, Algeria) and Bandjoun Station (Bandjoun, Cameroon) and, Njelele Art Station (Harare, Zimbabwe). The moderator Elvira Dyangani Ose is accompanied by the six artists who founded these establishments: Sammy Baloji, Aïda Muluneh, Moataz Nasr, Zineb Sedira, Barthélémy Toguo and Dana Whabira. They will present their initiatives and discuss the challenges and objectives of each one.
As an extension of this event, a special edition of Journal de la Fondation will list the most exhaustive list possible of all the artists’ initiatives currently open in Africa.
Programme of talks: artist-led initiatives in Africa
Has been curated by Ludovic Delalande and Elvira Dyangani Ose.
Elvira Dyangani Ose
Elvira Dyangani Ose is Director of The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. Previously, she was Director and Chief Curator of The Showroom, London. She is currently affiliated to the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, the Thought Council at the Fondazione Prada and Tate Modern Advisory Council.
Until November 2018, she served as Creative Time Senior Curator, curating among others their 11th edition of their Summit and the public art project Basilea. Previously, she curated Laura Lima’s Horse Takes King, the last iteration of the four-part project, Slight Agitation at the Fondazione Prada, where since 2015 she has curated exhibitions such as, Theaster Gates’s True Value, Nástio Mosquito’s T.T.T. Template Temples of Tenacity and Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer.
Dyangani Ose was Curator of the eighth edition of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary art, (GIBCA 2015) and Curator International Art at Tate Modern (2011 – 2014). Previously, Dyangani Ose served as curator at the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, as Artistic Director of Rencontres Picha, Lubumbashi Biennial (2013), and as Guest Curator of the triennial SUD, Salon Urbain de Douala (2010). Main curatorial projects include: A Story Within A Story… (2015), Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist (2013), Across the Board (2012–2014), Carrie Mae Weems: Social Studies (2010), Arte Invisible (2009, 2010), and Olvida Quien Soy/Erase Me From Who I Am (2006).
Dyangani Ose has published and lectured on modern and contemporary African art and has contributed to art journals such as Nka and Atlántica. She studied a Doctoral Degree in History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University, New York; has a MAS in Theory and History of Architecture from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona; and a BA in Art History from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Since 2005, Sammy Baloji has been exploring the memory and history of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His work is a continual search of the cultural, architectural and industrial patrimony of the region of Katanga, and it questions the impact of Belgian colonisation.
The artist’s use of photographic archives enables him to manipulate time and space and thus to compare the old colonial reports with contemporary economic imperialisms. His video works, installations and photographic series examine the ways in which identities are shaped, transformed, twisted and reinvented. His critical view of contemporary societies stands a warning about the way that cultural clichés continue to forge collective memories, making it possible for social and political power games to continue to dictate human behaviour. As he declared in a recent interview: “I’m not interested in colonialism for nostalgic reasons, or for the fact that it represents something from the past. I’m concerned with the perpetuation of the system.”
Sammy Baloji (born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, RD Congo) lives and works between Lubumbashi and Brussels. Since September 2019, he has been conducting an art research doctorate at the Sint Lucas Antwerpen School of Arts called “Contemporary Kasala and Lukasa: towards a Reconfiguration of Identity and Geopolitics”.
He has been awarded the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and has received a number of grants, awards and distinctions, particularly at the African Photography Encounters of Bamako and the Dakar Biennale. He is also a winner of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. In 2019-2020, he worked as an artist-in-residence of the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici. Since 2018, he has been teaching at the Sommerakademie of Salzburg. In 2008, Sammy Baloji co-founded the Picha Encounters/Lubumbashi Biennale.
Among his recent monographic exhibitions are Sammy Baloji, Other TalesS, Lund Konsthall and Aarhus Kunsthal (2020); Congo, Fragments d’une histoire, Le Point du Jour, Cherbourg (2019); A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes, Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2018); Sven Augustijnen & Sammy Baloji, Museumcultuur Strombeek (2018); Urban Now: City Life in Congo, Sammy Baloji and Filip de Boeck, The Power Plant, Toronto and WIELS, Brussels (2016-2017); and Hunting and Collecting, Mu.ZEE Kunstmuseum aan zee, Ostend (2014). He recently participated in the Biennale of Sydney (2020), documenta 14 (Cassel/Athènes, 2017), the Biennale de Lyon (2015), the Venice Biennale (2015), and the Festival Photoquai at the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris, 2015).
In 2020, he joined the “Power 100”, a list of the “most influential personalities in the art world” as ranked by the British magazine “ArtReview”.
His first exhibition was held in 2016 at Imane Farès: 802. That is where, as you heard, the elephant danced the malinga. The place where they now grow flowers. For the occasion, the artist unfurled an installation through the spaces of the gallery that is now part of the collections of the Tate in London.
Born in Addis-Abeba in 1974, Aïda graduated with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington D.C. Her photography can be found in several publications and also in the permanent collection at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Hood Museum, The RISD Museum of Art and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States.
She is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie, in Bamako, Mali, the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy, a 2018 CatchLight Fellow in San Francisco, USA. In 2019, she also became the first black woman to co-curator the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition and in the following year she returned as a commissioned artist for the prize.
She has been a jury member on several photography competitions, most notably the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 and the World Press Photo Contest 2017. She has also been on various panel discussions on photography, such as the African Union cultural summit, Art Basel, and Tedx/Johannesburg. In 2019, she also gave the renowned Sem Presser Lecture at the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam. A Canon Ambassador, Aïda is the founder of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa held since 2010. As an educator and cultural entrepreneur, she continues to develop projects with local and international institutions in Ethiopia and Côte d'Ivoire.
Moataz Nasr was born in 1961 in Alexandria (Egypt). He lives and works in Cairo. After studying economics, he decided to change direction and take a studio in Old Cairo. This self-taught artist gained local recognition marked by many prizes before breaking into the international art scene in 2001, notably winning the Grand Prix at the 8th International Cairo Biennial.
Since, he has participated in large international gatherings like the Venice, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Bogotà biennials and exhibited in prestigious contemporary art venues. Today he is considered one of the greatest representatives of pan-Arab contemporary art.
Showing complex cultural processes currently underway in the Islamic world, his work surpasses idiosyncrasies and geographical limits and voices the worries and torments of the African continent. The feeling of belonging to a specific geopolitical and cultural context and the need to maintain a link with his homeland are key elements of the artist’s life and work. Art and life are inseparable for him. His childhood memories, frustrations, and the society in which he is evolving seem to fuel his paintings, sculptures, videos and installations. His work concerns Egypt with its traditions, people, colors, without ever slipping into the exoticism or creating distance. It appears, on the contrary, close to everyone’s preoccupations. In fact, Egypt is just a background, a territory inhabited by human beings whose fragility is universal, as are indifference, powerlessness and solitude, weaknesses inherent in human nature.
Zineb Sedira’s lives in London and works between Paris, Algiers and London.
Sedira has exhibited in solo exhibitions at the Photographer’s Gallery (London, 2006); New Art Exchange (Nottingham, 2009); Pori Museum (Finland, 2009); Bildmuseet (Sweden, 2010); Kunsthalle Nikolaj (Denmark, 2010); Palais de Tokyo (France, 2010); [mac] musée d’Art contemporain (Marseille, 2010); Blaffer Art Museum, (Houston, 2013); Prefix - Institute of Contemporary Art (Toronto, 2010); Charles H. Scott Gallery (Canada); Art On the Underground, (London, 2016); Sharjah Art Foundation (2018); Beirut Art Center (Lebanon, 2018); Jeu de Paume, Paris and IVAM (Spain, 2019).
Sedira has in group shows at Tate Britain (London, 2002); Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2004, 2009); Mori Museum (Tokyo, 2005); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead, 2005); The Museum of Modern Art of Algiers, (2007); Brooklyn Museum (New York, 2007); Gwangju Museum of Art (South Korea) and the Centre Pompidou-Metz, (France , 2013); MMK Museum für Mordern Kunst (Germany, 2014);
Power Plant (Toronto); Smithsonian (Washington, 2015); Guggenheim and Studio Museum (NY); Museum Colecao Berardo, (Lisbon, 2016); MAC VAL (France , 2017) and Whitechapel Gallery (London, 2019)
Also in biennials and triennials including the Venice Biennale (2001 and 2011); Limerick Biennial (Ireland 2001); ICP Triennial (New York, 2003); Sharjah Biennale (UAE, 2003 and 2007); Folkestone Triennial (2011); Thessaloniki Biennale (Greece, 2011), Prospect, New Orleans, (USA, 2016) and the Liverpool Biennale (UK, 2021).
Zineb Sedira is at the origin of aria (artist residency in algiers), an artist residency in Algiers which supports the development of the contemporary artistic scene in Algeria through intercultural exchanges and collaborations.
The artist has been shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2021.
Her forthcoming solo exhibitions in 2022 will be at the De La Warr Pavilion, UK, Dallas Contemporary, US and Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Portugal
Finally, in April 2022 Zineb Sedira will be representing France at the 59th Venice Biennale, 2022.
Barthélémy Toguo was born in Mbalmayo, Cameroon, in 1967. From 1989 to 1993, he studied the plastic arts, first at the INSAAC of Abidjan, then at the ESAD of Grenoble, and then at the Kunstakademie of Düsseldorf. While he lives in Europe and has become a French citizen, Barthélémy Toguo’s roots remain deeply entrenched in Cameroon, and he returns there on a very regular basis.
He founded Bandjoun Station there. The foundation was inaugurated in 2013 as a residence featuring live-in workshops for artists and researchers from all over the world working to develop a cultural offering suitable for the local community. He describes it in the following terms: “My idea for Bandjoun Station was to combine traditional African art with contemporary art from all over the world, and to exhibit all the works in a single space, without ghettoisation or a hierarchy of values. […] Thus Bandjoun Station became a meeting place at the crossroads of classical art and contemporary art.”1. He also developed agricultural projects there in a healthy spirit of sustainable development.
From the late 1990s, his works were noticed by several critics and curators, who invited him to large-scale events: In 1999, Hans Ulrich Obrist, to Migrateurs (ARC, Paris); in 2000, Jean-Hubert Martin to Partage d’exotismes (Biennale de Lyon); in 2001, Pierre Restany to Political Ecology (White Box, New York); and in 2015, Okwui Enwezor to the Venice Biennale, All the World’s Future. In 2016, Barthélémy Toguo was one of the four artists nominated for the Marcel Duchamp prize. For the occasion, he presented the installation Vaincre le virus ! at the Centre Pompidou.
Showing his perpetual rebellion against the world’s dysfunctions, a number of his pieces deal with migration and exile. Nature, another of the artist’s favourite themes, is also present, such as in the “Homo Planta” painting series, expressing his desire to see man living in harmony with nature. Barthélémy Toguo’s works waver between the condemnation of inequalities and the celebration of life, the body and nature.
His works are present in a number of collections, including those of the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris), the MAC/VAL (Paris), the Tate Modern (London), the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Miami), the Pérez Art Museum (Miami), the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création (Paris), and the Collection Agnès b. (Paris). The artist recently received an order for four lintels to be permanently exhibited at the Musée Rodin (Paris).
Dana Whabira is an artist, architect and cultural facilitator, who lives and works in Harare. Whabira has exhibited widely, she represented Zimbabwe at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017) and participated in the Dak’art Biennale (2018) and Mercosul Biennial (2020), in addition to taking up art residencies and giving talks locally and internationally. In 2013, she founded Njelele Art Station, an experimental, interdisciplinary, independent project space currently broadcasting on njelele.art/radio.
Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Founded by Sammy Baloji in 2008
Founded in 2008, in Lubumbashi, by a group of young artists and cultural professionals, Picha asbl is an independent structure that promote all forms of artistic creation. To achieve this objective, Picha has developed three complementary tools: a center for art and research; the Biennale de Lubumbashi (an event that was originally focused on photography and video art); and Atelier Picha, a program of residencies and trainings that supports the development and professionalization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s burgeoning art scene.
Since its founding, Picha asbl has contributed to the diffusion of contemporary art in Lubumbashi by providing a space for exhibitions, events, and art production, as well as a publishing house and training and support for artists. Picha currently organizes events at two sites: Atelier Picha, a center for art and research located in the Makomeno district, and the Hangar at Complexe la Plage.
Addis Foto Fest (AFF)
Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
Founded by Aïda Muluneh in 2010
Created in 2010 by award-winning photographer Aïda Muluneh, Addis Foto Fest (AFF) is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa (and is East Africa’s first and only international photography festival). AFF focuses on creating an international platform for photographers to showcase their work, learn more, and meet with industry experts.
Festivals include exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections, and film screenings in a variety of renowned venues. To date, AFF has attracted over twenty-seven thousand in-person attendees and over one million online viewers, and has represented more than five hundred photographers from one hundred-plus countries.
Founded by Moataz Nasr Eldin in 2008
In the midst of historic Old Cairo is a beating heart for contemporary art and culture. Darb 1718 is an Egyptian nonprofit organization and art center, founded in 2008, that is a gathering point for Egyptian art events and a stage for Cairo’s contemporary art scene.
Darb 1718’s facilities include a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces that host different art mediums and cultural events: two art exhibition venues; theater, dance, and concert stages; an outdoor cinema for independent film screenings; and gardens and rooftops. Darb 1718 provides an artist residency that serves international artists and curators, as well as workshops, programs, and initiatives to educate and mentor emerging artists and offer them space to exhibit their work alongside established artists. Finally, the organization also acts as a hub to connect Egyptian artists from various walks of life with the local and international art and culture scene.
aria (artist residency in algiers)
Founded by Zineb Sedira in 2012
aria (artist residency in algiers) was founded by artist Zineb Sedira and independent curator Yasmina Reggad, and strives to initiate and develop cross-border dialogues as well as to grow a dynamic network of diverse international art communities within and beyond Algeria. aria hosts resident artists and connects them locally, regionally, and internationally to facilitate the development of ideas related to the Algerian and African context.
Through a rich program of new commissions, exhibitions, workshops, and conferences, aria provides opportunities for emerging and established artists, curators, and writers from North Africa and beyond to conduct artistic research and produce new works in Algeria. aria collaborates and partners with other likeminded institutions, with an emphasis on the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) region, to deliver projects such as MADRASSA, a curatorial training and residency program conceived by L’Atelier de l’Observatoire, and the March Project, an educational residency and exhibition program produced by the Sharjah Art Foundation.
Founded by Barthélémy Toguo in 2008
Barthélémy Toguo founded Bandjoun Station, a nonprofit art project, after observing how difficult it was to preserve contemporary artistic heritage and develop ambitious cultural projects in Africa. Located on the high plateaus of western Cameroon, Bandjoun Station comprises two separate structures: an art center and a studio space.
Supported by sturdy reinforced concrete pillars and crowned by gables, one of which is capped by a double pyramid frame, the structures are decorated with mosaics and inspired by traditional architecture. The art center, with an area of more than six hundred square meters (6500 square feet) spread over five floors, includes meeting and screening rooms, a reading room, temporary exhibition spaces, and an area for presenting work that emerges from collaboration between the artist and his friends. The second building, connected to the first via a footbridge, has lodgings, a dining room, studios, and a common space. Artists-in-residence provide a unique learning environment by developing and leading creative educational workshops for children and teenagers. In partnership with the surrounding community, Bandjoun Station is also developing an agricultural project with the goal of food autonomy.
Njelele Art Station
Founded by Dana Whabira in 2013
Njelele Art Station is an independent project space located in Harare. An urban laboratory that focuses on contemporary, experimental, and public art practice, it seeks to give shape or form to critical understandings of how people can live and work together.
Projects compose a discursive platform revolving around literature, archives, forms of publication, and knowledge production. In 2021, Njelele expanded into communal radio, bringing connectivity at a time when it was not always possible to gather together in person. Programming will draw from the long history of radio in service of political and social movements in an effort to inform current struggles, as well as the independent format of free-form radio, generating an experimental, interdisciplinary, autonomous, and occasionally inhabited space.
Initialy planned from june to december 2020, the Africa2020 season has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Build by a number of afrian professionnal in partnership with french institutions and implemented by the Institut français, it will take place from December 1, 2020 to September 2021 throughout France (hexagon and overseas territories). N'Goné Fall is the General curator of the Africa2020 Season.
Build around the major challenges of the 21st century, this unprecedented Season is a laboratory for the production and dissemination of knowledge and ideas. It presents the views of the civil society from the African continent and its recent diaspora in all sectors. It is the sounding board for these agents of change who are shaking up codes, experimenting with new relationships with the world and impacting contemporary societies.
The Africa2020 Season is a multidisciplinary pan-African project, focusing on innovation in the arts, sciences, technology, entrepreneurship and the economy. Education will be a cross-cutting issue for the sharing and transmission of knowledge. This unprecedented Season will favour mobility, pay tribute to women, and primarily target the youth. The ambition of the Africa2020 Season is to create a global emancipation movement through a sustainable commitment build around the values of citizenship.
Based on the principle of collective intelligence, the Africa2020 Season is an invitation to build meaning together to transcend all the possible futures.