‘CODE’ at The Mojo Gallery (Dubai) juxtaposes the work of Cheikhou Ba (Senegal) and Serwan Baran (Iraq), two artists hailing from different continents and living across cultures. The exhibition brings forth two antagonistic views of the world. Contiguous in their underlying meaning, this results in a creative dialogue about the mystique of life.
At the beginning of her speech, Zethu Matebeni thanked performer Khanyisile Mbongwa for making the podium a comfortable space, for the first time. The performance by Mbongwa, preceding this speech, was titled Umnikelo Oshisiwe (a burnt offering). It was comprised of chants, repetitions of parts of prayer, whistling, a song in Xhosa and the donning of traditional headdress coupled with a symbolic disrobing. Afterwards, Jay Pather described it as a troubled purification.
This sense of unearthing and purification with the aim of transforming criticality and opening up academia and the cultural sector is what characterized the launch of The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) on Tuesday evening, 5th April 2016.
The relationship between politics and art is not new. A uniquely human endeavour, the scope of artistic practice extends into all fields, an impulse that jumps from one synapse to the next. If anything, art highlights the connections between things — their similarities, their contradictions, their feeling. If we can think it, we can communicate it, and, naturally, it is the things that affect us most that we feel the need to communicate. Provided we have a receptive, open platform, and a will to do so.
Amirah Tajdin is a film writer, director and co-founder of THIRTY SEVEN films. Currently based in Dubai, Tajdin’s work has received the Jury Special Mention awards at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and Film Africa London. Her co-directed short, Marea de Tierra (2015) premiered at the Cannes Director’s Fortnight as part of the Chile Factory Residency. She is currently writing her first feature film, Hawa Hawaii, set in the Swahili community of Mombasa, Kenya. Daniel Hewson spoke to Tajdin about her practice and the difficulty of independent filmmaking.
"Those who pursue art as a profession and aspire to a successful career are subject to coercion by the power and benevolence of the West into producing something that does not pose any threat to the structures of Western institutions and their philosophical underpinning," writes Valerie Kabov.
When it comes to communication, film is arguably one of the most universal mediums. Its universality is in the language – be it the visuals, soundtrack, dialogue, or a combination of these elements – which can speak to anyone, anywhere. These familiar, sensory moments reach beyond one’s conscious understanding of the world. They create a brief window of opportunity in which empathy thrives. An event like the Carthage Film Festival − which took place in Tunis between the 21st to the 28th November 2015 − brings together a wide variety of films from across the globe, providing a platform for local and visiting audiences, not only to engage alternative world views, but to recognise them and, perhaps, make them their own.
Saturday 2 April will see the opening of 'Bittersweet' [Agridoce, in Portuguese], an exhibition by South African artist Haroon Gunn-Salie at Galpão VB in Brasil. The idea for the solo exhibit came about through the artist’s interactions with people who were directly affected by last year’s disaster in Mariana, Brazil. Gunn-Salie’s project, composed of film, photography and installation, aims to tell the stories often covered up by mainstream state-owned media, offering the grassroots perspective of those affected.
Gender and race politics have an unprecedented pop-cultural presence and, as a result, there is a certain cynicism that accompanies hearing about an all-girl group-show called ‘Lush,’ which took place at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch. There is the suspicion of a feverish attempt at intersectionality, a bracing for the impact of thinly veiled tropes. Fortunately, these expectations have gone unsatisfied. Instead, ‘Lush’ embodied an evolution in how we consider female artists.
Are we too regional in our ideas about establishing self-sufficient art markets within the continent? Should we be embracing the sale of international artists locally? Leila Heller raises some important questions following the establishment of New York's Leila Heller Gallery in Dubai.
The fourth ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference took place between the 16th and 17th March 2016. Fay Jackson takes a look at some of the key points made over the course of the conference, their relevance within the broader South African context, and the ways in which such oppurtunities enable its participants to reach out beyond the confines of the event, eloquently summarised by keynote speaker Didintle Ntsie, “The first step is awareness, and the second is challenging ourselves to use our privilege in order to make a change.”
"I do think there are things in life that you must decide, but to be who you are is not a decision," says Nastio Mosquito to Nadine Botha, following the group exhibition 'Positions' at the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven.
On Friday the 18th of March the South African arts community bid a reluctant farewell to prominent protest artist, David Brown (1951 - 2016).
Pop Art (or pop culture – it’s hard to tell the difference these days) is everywhere. Its emblematic ubiquity is summed up by the golden arches: a crass, shiny, up-ended arse. And it’s a buzz-word Norman O’Flynn can’t stomach, writes cultural analyst and educator Ashraf Jamal.
It is hapless (and yet not possible) to write about South Africa without persistent references to racial grouping, legalised through the Group Areas Act of 1950, Immorality Amendment Act of 1957, Bantu Authorities Act of 1953 and Native Labour Act of 1953, among other laws and acts. These laws characterised apartheid and to avoid such references would be confusing and require a total distortion of historical realities. The title of veteran artist and arts writer Sue Williamson’s exhibition, ‘The Past Lies Ahead,’ at Goodman Gallery (Cape Town), suggests different types of chronicles.
It is with great sadness that we received the news about the death of Goethe-Institut stalwart Henrike Grohs, alongside seventeen others, in the recent act of violence at the Ivory Coast hotel, L'Etoile du Sud in Grand Bassam, just outside of the country’s economic capital of Abidjan.
Issues around motherhood and the female body are brought to the fore in curator Amanda Hunt's exhibition ‘A Constellation,’ which took place at the Studio Museum Harlem in NYC. These issues are as relevant today as they were for Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), who depicted the experiences of African American women throughout her artistic lifetime, or in the material (and political) concerns as represented by Harlem-born artist and activist Faith Ringgold. In this interview participating artist Billie Zangewa spoke to Hunt, uncovering some of the challenges, processes and influences around her artistic practice and how this helps form her work within a contemporary context.
Journalist Layli Foroudi's article titled 'Art as Resistance' (you can read it in French here) focuses on the dark effects of dictatorships and Islamic extremism in countries like Mali, Tunisia, Iran and France through the prism of artistic practices used specifically as acts of defiance. This broad reaching article shows the irrepressible spirits of everyday survivors of horrendous acts of terrorism and institutional cruelty.
In the March issue of ART AFRICA, titled 'Looking Further North,' Laura Parry-Davies takes a look at the current exhibition by Newsha Tavakolian, 'i know why the rebel sings,' at the Prince Claus Fund Gallery in Amsterdam.
Siobhan Keam speaks to CIRCA gallery director Georgie Shields about the inaugural launch of the well-known Johannesburg-based gallery at their new premises in London. "I'm not interested in hushed tones," says Shields, "In an age of virtual reality and art Fairtigue, CIRCA reasserts the role of the gallery as a space to have dialogue with our community - in person... Art is about life, not about art."
The Biennale of Photography in the Contemporary Arab World had its inaugural run from November 2015 to January 2016, featuring over fifty artists from areas surrounding the Mediterranean. Joining ART AFRICA in conversation is Gabriel Bauret, the Chief Curator. In the following interview he addresses notions of Arab identity, the biennale's vision and negotiating artistic practice in a time of fundamentalist-led terror attacks.
What perspective does art from the Arab World provide for [these] territories? Given the geographical and linguistic variety of these different paths and stories, which images are proposed? What links exist between the geographical boundaries and the artistic realm? What trajectories, affiliations and lives are sketched by the imagination? These are some of the questions 'Arab Territories' curator and art critic Nadira Laggoune poses in her Critical Positioning Piece for the latest March issue of ART AFRICA, 'Looking further North.'
ART AFRICA magazine is proud to announce our recent partnership with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) to produce French translations of ART AFRICA print publication articles. Through this translation, the partnership with IFAS furthers one of ART AFRICA's core goals which is to produce content with a broader focus covering artistic production in Africa and the diaspora in order to be more inclusive, as well as making this content more accessible to non-English speakers. Sixteen African countries list French as a co-official language, following closely after English as one of the most widely spoken languages on the continent and abroad.
On Sunday the 6th of March, the Fondazione Fotografia Modena announced that South African artist Santu Mofokeng won the International Photography Prize 2016, which this year focused on the theme of 'Identity.'
Filippo Maggia, the Director of the Fondazione Forografia Modena, Roberto Pisoni, head of Sky Arte HD, and Carla Mainoldi, head of Group Giving, Events & Art Management at UniCredit, presented Mafikeng with the International Photography Prize, which includes € 70,000.
Don’t miss our exciting final weekend programme at THAT ART FAIR 2016. The two interactive art events consist of an installation by Maker Librarian Heath Nash and THAT GRAFFITI WORKSHOP, a collaborative effort between THAT ART FAIR, local 3D graffiti artist Boeta Phyf and the Salesian Institute Youth Projects. There will also be an auction on Sunday at 2pm; up for bidding will be the five graffiti works produced during the workshops, as well as the individual handbags designed by well-known artists and designers.
With a solo show forthcoming at EBONY in Cape Town, ART AFRICA sat down with the UK-born, South Africa- based artist, Oliver Barnett. In this interview, the artist re-evaluates the line between science and mysticism, discusses his ‘psycho-technical’ experiments, the perks of self-training and developing a sensibility for magic.