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Africa Remix

Africa calling

Africa is a scandal," writes curator Simon Njami in the catalogue for Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent. Not many people would disagree. Africa, the poorest continent, with the most terrible problems of war and disease... But Njami doesn't mean that. 

His catalogue essay is written in another language, that of curators: he means "scandal" in a theoretical way. Africa is a scandal because it is "hybrid", because it is inherently transgressive, because... no, let us leave it there. 

Suffice it to say that Africa Remix flails around to find an Africa that can claim its place in the world of biennales, glossy art magazines and proliferating theory. That it ends up discovering the same old realities of injustice and poverty probably says more for the honesty of African artists than for the thinking behind the show.

found Wednesday February 9, 2005 The Guardian

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Johannesburg Art Gallery - Africa Remix Back Home

Johannesburg Art Gallery - Africa Remix Back HomePatrice Felix Tchicaya's 'Fin de cycle (End of Cycle)' (2007)--a video installation with sound, three DVD projections and mirrors
(c) Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, museum kunst palast; at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, 2007

 

Africa calling for modern African Art

There's plenty to admire in Africa Remix. But Jonathan Jones wonders if a whole continent can really be captured in a single exhibition

Hayward Gallery Southbank London

10 February - 17 April 2005 Website: http://www.hayward.org.uk/exhibitions/africa/ 

http://www.africaremix.org.uk/

Samuel Fosso. Africa RemixSamuel Fosso, (Central-Afrika) Le Chef, 2003. Courtesy the artist Centre d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris

The good news: Bodys Isek Kingelez is in it, and he is a mad genius, a visionary architect of futuristic worlds, which he builds in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His work is full of loving detail, crowded with formal and chromatic surprises: skyscrapers in opulent yet neat shapes, neon lights, spacious highways and parks. Kingelez is a true modern artist as much as a contemporary one. He has an ideal of city life, a cartoonish utopianism that may, underneath, be an ironic and pessimistic joke about the failure of real cities, anywhere, to be as lovely as his dreams.

Pessimism clings to a lot of the work here despite itself, or despite the promotional claims made for it. Goncalo Mabunda welds together pieces of guns to make sculptures, including a rusting Eiffel Tower. This Mozambique artist seems on the face of it to be uplifting and redemptive - swords into ploughshares, automatic weapons into chairs. But there is a gloom and a wretchedness to these objects, with their cargo of the slain.

Recycling of one kind or another is the dominant aesthetic in Africa Remix. This is subtly different from the cult of the readymade in current European and American art. The Duchampian object selected and isolated by the artist is by definition historyless, made new. The recycled or collaged object is the opposite: a lump of memory. To make art from scrap is to make a lugubrious monument to its previous users. So Dilomprizulike's human figures made from rubbish and El Anatsui's curtain of reused aluminium and Titos's aeroplane of trash are grim and sombre things, for all their creative verve. They are hand-me-downs, inherited houses full of bad memories. Willie Bester makes this explicit in his For Those Left Behind, a monument to victims of apartheid forged from scrap metal of that era - guns, badges, chains.

Unfortunately, Bester isn't very good, and in general this exhibition lacks quality control. I don't just mean it has bad work, but it aspires to the condition of an art fair or festival, in which a large number of artists of wildly varying merit display one or two works. So there is only one - brilliant - cityscape by Kingelez, and just two works by the terrific Congolese painter Chéri Samba.

Le Monde Vomissant Cheri Samba Africa remixEven on this limited showing, Samba's Le Monde Vomissant is a startling painting. An African-faced Earth spews out the indigestible continent of America. There is a list of some other vomit-worthy places. It's strange, grotesque, funny - but a very incomplete representation of the art of Samba, who paints Hogarthian scenes of everyday life full of gross jokes, surreal rage and lyricism.

By Chéri Samba (Democratic Republic of Congo), 2004. Acrylic on canvas. © Hayward Gallery

This kind of painting has real popular roots and purposes in Kinshasa, and it could have been shown in far more depth. The reason I like it is not out of a crusty affection for painters but because Samba seems to tell us about African contemporary life, rather than setting out to fit into a global art system. You see this in his touching image The Bankrupt.

Samba and Kingelez are well-established names in French and other museums on the continent. The organisers of Africa Remix would probably say they are more interested in discovering the new. But they don't discover anything very much. You could, of course, and logically should, define the "contemporary" as any art being made now, and an exhibition that really showed us a broad cross-section of images and artefacts from Africa made in the past couple of years might juxtapose traditional art made for tourists with living folk objects like painted coffins and with Kingelez's utopian cities. This is not that exhibition. It uses "contemporary art" in the way it is generally used, to mean art aware of modernism and its aftermath. But who defines "contemporary art", and why should it matter more than, say, "tribal" or popular art from Africa? And why should African art have to fit a sterile and middle-class western idea of the culturally pertinent?

The exhibition's preference for that which asserts its right to be called truly contemporary and sophisticated means that it includes lots of photographs and lots of video. The image chosen for the publicity is Jane Alexander's tableau of human and animal hybrid figures on a bed of red sand. It has obviously, irritatingly, been selected because, in a photo, it looks like an African answer to the Chapman brothers. There's also lots of work made by artists of African origin who live in Europe and the US. London artist Yinka Shonibare, shortlisted in last year's Turner prize, contributes an installation commenting a bit tritely on colonial history, and New York painter Julie Mehretu contributes, er, New York paintings. And the emphasis on modernity inevitably favours the most western population in Africa - who are white South Africans. Do they really need the leg-up?

Africa resists this kind of exhibition because it is one vast and terrible reminder that life and death are more real than art - more real than video, anyway. By insisting on the urban and the technological, Africa Remix misdescribes the continent. What do we say about the masses who live outside the city and have no art magazines? That they are the objects of history, and only city-dwelling elites are its makers? In the end, the anthropological collectors at the British Museum, routinely disparaged for imperialism, do a better job of sampling the different pasts and presents of rural and urban, traditional and modern art.

The Hayward show is a relentlessly upbeat advert for an African contemporary art it is determined to invent. But that's enough criticism. In the end, this is a subject I probably shouldn't even be writing about. What do I know? Racism is limitless. Recently I was asked to write about Yinka Shonibare for the New York Times. The editor asked if I could connect his work with "tribalism in fashion". I couldn't. But who knows how many ignorant things I've just written. Maybe Africa really does need its installations to be acknowledged as much it needs a war on poverty.

 

· Africa Remix is at the Hayward Gallery, London SE1, from tomorrow.

Details: 08703 800 400

LONDON, UK.- Africa Remix is a South Bank Centre-wide season of cultural events commencing from February 2005, featuring artists, musicians and performers, bringing the South Bank to life in a dynamic celebration of contemporary African creativity. The main focus of the season is the exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, 10 February - 17 April 2005.

Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent is the largest exhibition of contemporary African art ever seen in Europe. Featuring more than 60 artists, the show includes painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, film and video, many created within the last five years. Artists from 25 countries across the continent, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, are represented, as well as African artists now living in Europe and North America.

The exhibition is an international collaboration between four major galleries: Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, where it opened in July this year; the Hayward Gallery; the Centre Pompidou, Paris, where it will travel after London; and the Mori Museum Tokyo. Simon Njami (writer and founder-editor of the Paris-based journal, Revue Noire), leading the curatorial team, has travelled extensively throughout Africa over the past decade. The selection brings together internationally renowned artists and an emerging generation of artists whose work will be shown in Britain for the first time.

Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent is arranged around three broad themes. City and Land explores the contrasting experiences of urban and rural life and the distinctive dynamism of African cities. This section of the show includes new work by the outstanding South African photographer David Goldblatt; a spectacular eight metres high 'cloth of gold' made from thousands of bottle tops by Ghanaian El Anatsui; and an assemblage made from found materials by the Nigerian Dilomprizulike, known in Lagos as 'the junk man of Africa'.

History and Identity focuses on matters of power and authority, modernity, and tradition and collective identities. It includes the Central African photographer Samuel Fosso, who has been representing himself in multiple guises since the 1970s; an installation by this year's Turner prize nominee, London-based Nigerian Yinka Shonibare; and South African Jane Alexander, whose haunting sculptural tableau, African Adventure, mixing human and animal forms, was originally conceived for the British Officers' Mess in Cape Town.

Body and Soul addresses issues of individual identity, religion, spirituality and emotion, sexuality, the body, the portrait, and the gaze. The New York-based Egyptian artist Ghada Amer creates delicate, transgressive imagery from cotton threads; Kenyan Wangechi Mutu, also living in New York, has recently risen to prominence with her fantastical mixed media collages. Egyptian artists Abd El Ghany Kenawy and Amal Kenawy have produced a poignant atmospheric video installation on the depths of hope and memory.

Also at the Hayward Gallery, a commissioned selection of 60 tracks of current African sounds, from Algerian hip-hop to traditional Malian kora music, produced by the world music broadcaster Lucy Duran with Theodoros Konkouris and DJ Dudu Sarr, that will be playing on a juke box. Visitors will be able to listen and relax in a specially designed lounge area in the Hayward's pavilion, decorated with vibrant African furniture created by Malian Cheik Diallo.

Also as part of the Africa Remix festival, a major programme of music, literature and performance is also taking place at the South Bank Centre across the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, including free events on the Ballroom. Confirmed artists so far include Dizzee Rascal, MC Solaar and Ty, Baaba Maal, Koffi Olumide, King Sunny Ade, Helon Habila and Teofile Chantre. More information regarding the Africa Remix performing arts programme will be available soon. 

found at http://www.artdaily.com/section/news/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=12617

read also in French : Africa Remix, grande exposition d'art africain à Londres

et: Pompidou

 

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In this section:
Start
Omhoog
Modern tribal art
African-textiles
Contemporary art
Monaco-Arts-Africa
African-vibes
Africa screams
Africa-remix
Documenta Madrid
African-words
Shona stone family sculpture
hairstyles - Blaffer gallery
Twins-Seven-Seven
Jean Pigozzi
Miami art museum-Mutu
River Crossing
Fiber-Art
airbrush art gallery
contemporary art
Seydou Keyta
Zanzibar artists
modern african art
museum of modern art
Cape Africa
art fairs list
Ifa Lethu
guggenheim bilbao
zimbabwe stone art
South African paintings
code coverage tool c
African American food
expanding Africa
primitivism revisited
Chapunga sculpture park
fire in the heart
tribal tattoos
south africa gallery
african encounters
architecture of the veil
blood art
Shona stone sculptures
Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
south african art
Contemporary art from Africa
jose vermeersch
Is It Art
Ebay African Art 

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The Tribal Arts of Africa

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read also : Start ] Modern tribal art ] African-textiles ] Contemporary art ] Monaco-Arts-Africa ] African-vibes ] Africa screams ] [ Africa-remix ] Documenta Madrid ] African-words ] Shona stone family sculpture ] hairstyles - Blaffer gallery ] Twins-Seven-Seven ] Jean Pigozzi ] Miami art museum-Mutu ] River Crossing ] Fiber-Art ] airbrush art gallery ] contemporary art ] Seydou Keyta ] Zanzibar artists ] modern african art ] museum of modern art ] Cape Africa ] art fairs list ] Ifa Lethu ] guggenheim bilbao ] zimbabwe stone art ] South African paintings ] code coverage tool c ] African American food ] expanding Africa ] primitivism revisited ] Chapunga sculpture park ] fire in the heart ] tribal tattoos ] south africa gallery ] african encounters ] architecture of the veil ] blood art ] Shona stone sculptures ] Contemporary African Diasporan Arts ] south african art ] Contemporary art from Africa ] jose vermeersch ] Is It Art ] Ebay African Art ]

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