The Inaugural Amref Health Africa ArtBall is a premier contemporary African art auction and philanthropic event being held on Wednesday, 8th June, 2016 from 7-10PM at 159 Bleecker Street in New York City. To date nearly thirty artists, including the likes of Solly Cissé (Senegal), Michael Soi (Kenya), Paa Joe (Ghana), Tahir Carl Karmali (Kenya), George Lilanga (Tanzania) Wiz Kudowor (Ghana) and Saidou Dicko (Burkina Faso) have generously donated their artwork to the #AmrefArtBall in an attempt to raise funds for Amref Health Africa's innovative grassroot programmes, which span across thirty-five countries and touch millions of people throughout sub-Saharan Africa every year. If you're a South African artist and would like to be a part of this breakthrough event, this is your opportunity.
Hosted by award winning writer, producer and news anchor Carol Jenkins, and curated by Atim Annette Oton, the Amref Health Africa ArtBall serves as both a platform to raise funds, as well as a site to interrogate some of the perceptions that surround disease, an all-too-often stigmitised and misunderstood issue. In conjunction with the organisation's current ten-year strategy, which seeks to find a way to link health services to the people that need them by focusing more on people, and less on diseases, the event will honour acclaimed artist Wangechi Mutu with The Rees Humanitarian Award for her work celebrating and empowering African communities.
Wangechi Mutu was born and raised in Kenya and has made Art in New York for almost twenty years. Mutu's work focuses on the conversations that surround perception, in both personal and political realms. She's primarily interested in how identity pivots around a kind of social contract that can only be broken through personal and political reinvention - a rewriting of the codes that have been used to represent us.
Her work proposes the need for a multiple consciousness and an awareness of identity as performance, to be able to remake the rules that bind our imagination. In order to reorganise the reality that serves us unsavory images of ourselves, Mutu creatively dismantles old tropes and intricately pieces together new ones. Through performance, collage paintings, video and sculpture she continues to think about the complicatedness of being and how essentially one's physical body plays such a huge role in determining one's experiences, their survival, and the ability to understand what that is.
Founded almost sixty years ago and headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Amref Health Africa is the largest African based health development non-profit in the world, who work to create and strengthen health systems from a grassroots level. Areas of critical importance to the organisation include maternal and child health, water and sanitation, and infectious disease — HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and Ebola, to name a few. They have also played a significant role in establishing clinical labs and orchestrating surgical outreach; with the cornerstone of their work being the training of health workers. Testament to their belief in creating African solutions to African problems is the fact that nearly ninety-seven percent of Amref Health Africa’s staff are of African origin.