Monday, 2 February 2009

2009 Preview: Art in a Vast Continent

By Sean O'Toole
Published: January 19, 2009
Culled from:

CAPE TOWN—Contemporary African creativity has been the source of much intrigue, argument, and hype in recent years, with shows aplenty in North America and Europe. That’s good news if you live in Paris or New York, less so if you’re a resident of Dakar or Luanda, Nairobi or Cape Town. Not that the 922 million inhabitants of the 53 states making up the world’s second-largest continent are without cultural entertainment. But you won’t read about it in Time Out Africa — there isn’t one. The problem is perhaps best summarized in a quote from the frustrated online editors of the Mail & Guardian, a leading South African weekly newspaper: “We, the people of this vast continent, do not all know each other, nor is the staff of this South African newspaper equipped to be an authority on every last detail of every last country; we don’t supply accommodation or act as travel agents.” This caveat noted, here is ARTINFO’s selective snapshot of highlights from Africa’s 2009 contemporary art and culture calendar.

FAN 2009 (Casablanca, March 30 – April 4, 2009)
The second edition of Casablanca's International Festival of Visual Arts & New Media is a showcase of performing arts, video, electronic music, dance, sound creation, and new media tomfoolery. Adopting a decentralized approach to exhibitions that is increasingly popular in Africa, FAN’s various performances, shows, interactive videod, and multimedia installations and screenings will be hosted in a variety of Moroccan cities in addition to Casablanca. The event is complemented by a colloquium that looks at new personalities in digital arts and culture.

Joburg Art Fair (Johannesburg, April 3–5, 2009)
Now in its second edition, the Joburg Art Fair is still a mostly South African affair. This said, the lineup this year includes emissaries from Nigeria and Egypt — although New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery, notable for its promotion of contemporary African art internationally, has elected not to show. The Centre for Contemporary Art, founded in late 2007 by Nigerian critic Bisi Silva, is an independent nonprofit art organization based in Lagos; Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery, which represents photographer Youseff Nabil, formerly an assistant to David Lachapelle, was established in 1998 and is Egypt’s leading commercial art gallery, with significant reach into North Africa and the Mediterranean Middle East. Following on Robin Rhode at last year’s debut, Jane Alexander, the stoic South African sculptor famous for eschewing the commercial dealer scene, is the fair’s featured artist; she will show Security, an anxious sculptural installation originally exhibited at the 2006 São Paulo Bienal. (Alexander is also showing at Jack Shainman from March 19 through April 18.)- YOU CAN SPOT ME AT THIS EVENT REPRESENTING CCA,LAGOS.

Cape 09 (Cape Town, May 2 – June 19, 2009)
The second edition of Cape Town’s contemporary art biennial is taking a more modest approach after a disastrous launch in 2006 that saw the event postponed at the last minute and curator Gavin Jantjes resign from his role as artistic director. Although no names are forthcoming yet, the curatorial premise satellites around the idea of re-imagining the host city, which despite its famed natural splendor and viticulture is faced with a critical housing shortage, unemployment, and ongoing racial segregation. The event will also showcase a range of projects curated by interns from organizing body CAPE’s Young Curator’s Programme. The biennial, which recently invited Brazilian artist Rodrigo Bueno to speak about his participation at curator Ivo Mesquita’s controversial 2008 São Paulo Bienal, actively promotes dialogue and exchange about contemporary art from outside the accepted power blocks of North America, Europe, and, increasingly, Asia.

World Summit on Arts and Culture (Johannesburg, September 22–25, 2009)
Convened by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), the fourth iteration of this triennial event is to be held in Johannesburg, following previous editions in Ottawa, Singapore, and Newcastle. The aim is to celebrate and investigate the impact of the arts on society, the economy, and nation building, in particular the role of public funders (such as arts councils and ministries of culture). The experiences of the host state, South Africa, in this field will inform many of the discussions.

Bamako Biennial of Photography 2009
(Bamako, November 2009)
Founded in 1994 by French photographers Françoise Huguier and Bernard Descamps, this event began with the mission “to underline the richness of a poorly known sector of African creation.” In the years since, many international reputations have been made at the event, including those of photographer Samuel Fosso and Simon Njami, former Revue Noire editor and co-curator of the controversial 2007 African Pavilion in Venice (it showcased work from the collection of Congolese businessman Sindika Dokolo, whose wealth is alleged to have derived from his father’s ties to Mobutu Sese Seko, former dictator of Zaire). The eighth edition of the photography festival will be the first since Njami stepped down as artistic director. To date, a replacement artistic director has not been announced by the event’s driving force, CulturesFrance, an international agency for the French ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture and Communications.

FESMAN 2009 (Dakar, December 1–21, 2009)
In 1966, Senegalese poet and president Léopold Senghor piloted the launch of the Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres (World Festival of Black Arts), a pan-African multidisciplinary arts festival held in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. A second version was organized more than a decade later in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, in 1977. Now, more than three decades after that, the event returns to its spiritual ground zero, Dakar, encompassing a variety of emblematic sites, including Gorée Island, a former slave trading post; though it also involves venues in the capitals of Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Mauritania, and Mali. The multidisciplinary festival covers the visual and performing arts, as well as furniture and textile design and architecture.

Lets get other events around the continent publicised!
If you have an event coming up do send me an email @ The earlier the better, as you can see from the dates of these events!

Also check out this article I posted sometime last year:

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