This September, Wanja Laiboni will travel throughout Kenya, with a professional photographer, documenting and studying Kenya’s diverse traditional crafts.She aims to collect the stories behind the crafts, the inspiration for their colors and symbols, and the materials and techniques used. The objective is to cover as much ground as possible, ensuring that the wealth of Kenya’s crafts is captured in images and words since the accelerating pace of urbanization and global cultural exchanges – that could potentially erode local cultures – indicates a clear and urgent need for preservation. The final project delivery is a professionally designed, digital compilation of Kenya’s crafts.
I believe that preservation needn’t be a long and bureaucratic process, and that preservation and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, I see the best kind of preservation as being one that transforms culture in its raw form into cultural symbols, products and images that remain present in our everyday lives, as opposed to living in documents in dusty archives that few have access to.
– Wanja Laiboni
Wanja has launched a fundraising campaign at Indiegogo and M-Changa (Kenyan equivalent of Indiegogo). Crafting Kenya now has a team of 7 people based in Kenya, Italy and France. To learn more about her and the impetus behind the project, watch the video below.
One of my favorite aspects of this project is Wanja’s commitment to ensuring the photographs and the information gathered is beneficial to the general public. As such, the final project delivery will also be availed to Kenyan university students in relevant fields of study, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Tourism Board. She also plans to organise a public photography exhibition at Nairobi National Museum, or other Nairobi-based cultural institutions, at the end of 2014 or early 2015.
Background Photo: Colorful bowls made from Kisii soapstone (found in Western Kenya). Image credit – Wanja Laiboni
Support this incredible project by contributing at Indiegogo, M-Changa or by simply spreading word!
Tropfest is Australia’s most prestigious short film festival and one of its most iconic cultural events. It is also the largest short film festival in the world. Tropfest is recognised for its enormous contribution to the development of the Australian film industry by providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and new and expanded audiences for their work.
The annual short film competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter – regardless of their background or experience. 16 Finalists are selected from an entry pool of an average 700 annual entries and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Past judges have included some of the best and well known actors and directors in the world including John Woo, Cate Blanchett, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Ewan McGregor, Jane Campion, Salma Hayek, and Gabriel Byrne.
As a guest of the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, Tropfest Managing Director Michael Laverty,will visit Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria to present a series of short film screenings to South African audiences. The film program will comprise highlights from former Tropfest Australia winners and finalists between the years 2005 and December 2013. Tropfest films will also be screened at events in Kenya and Zimbabwe this month. The screenings form part of Tropfest’s commitment to fostering filmmaking talent at an international level,
The massive expansion of Tropfest around the globe conveys a worldwide appetite for fresh storytelling voices. It is so exciting to have Tropfest travel to Africa. We know that there is an enormous community of storytellers in this region, and we hope to one day establish a local platform for these filmmakers – with a global audience to share their stories with.
I am proud that Australia is supporting this important cultural exchange in the film sector, and hope that Tropfest will be well received by South African audiences. This festival forms part of a larger program of cultural and sporting events planned to coincide with this year’s 20th anniversary of democracy celebrations, which will showcase the strong and diverse Australia-South Africa relationship to the broader public.
– HE Mr Graeme Wilson, Australia’s High Commissioner to South Africa
How can short film festivals provide a platform for talented young filmmakers?
CinemAfrica arranges the largest African film festival in Sweden. The festival is a unique opportunity for children, youth and adults to watch and discuss films from emerging African film industries. They show feature films, documentaries, short films and animations made by filmmakers of African descent and works to highlight the Africans own pictures and stories.
There are also talks and special Q&A sessions throughout the festival. What part does contemporary art from Africa play across the global art world? Three artists who all use visual art as one of their mediums will be hosting a discussion, international Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, producer/researcher/presenter Zina Saro-Wiwa and innovative filmmaker Frances Bodomo. In collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. This event is free.
Stuart Hall was one of the greatest and most influential thinkers, and has been a constant presence in the global public debate for over 50 years, a pioneer in everything from the British New Left to feminist cultural analysis and postcolonial studies. In this sensitive told documentary director John Akomfrah creates a beatiful portrait of Stuart Hall from archive images and audio fragments, and creates an equal political and personal dialogue about memory, identity and our age’s dramatic history.
The history of black women in the American civil rights movement in the 60’s – and 70’s in a large-scale and ambitious documentary, a celebration of generations and a lesson to today’s feminists from the young, Nigeria-born filmmaker Nevline Nnaji. With a mixture of fresh interviews and archival material, we follow the emergence of a strong, international solidarity, black feminism, which is forced to fight against both sexist structures in the civil rights movement and racist structures in the women’s movement.
Some would argue that no area within the film world has changed so fast and so spectacularly in recent years as the African music videos, today a giant industry that established links with many of the most exciting and experimental willing new filmmakers. Along with a panel of directors who all have been involved in various ways in the music video world, examples will be shown and there will be discussions about the production, aesthetics, the music industry and how today directors are approaching the history and future. Teddy Goitom from Stocktown where music videos are prominently featured, will be on the panel.
The Venus Bushfires is a collective of one and many, of which Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor is the only constant member. The Nigerian-born musician, who moved to the UK when she was seven years old, is also renowned for her unique hair styles and the Swiss-made, PANArt instrument she plays called the Hang®. For me, Isibor’s eccentric style is reminiscent of Björk and Bat For Lashes.
Isibor harnesses influences from avant-garde, psychedelic, tribal and meditative arts, drawing inspiration from 70’s musical pioneers such as Fela Kuti. Exploring the ethereal sounds of the Hang, the power of the talking drum and the quirks of children’s toys Isibor mixes visual and musical styles. When she visited BBC Africa in London, Kenyan presenter Sophie Ikenye asked her how she first came to play the Hang (see video of interview above). Isibor is also influenced by spoken word, poetry, the body as a percussive instrument, exploring simultaneous and delayed multi-modal sensory experiences, social commentary, creative arts therapy, politics and human rights activism.
The novella is about a young Nigerian living in New York City who goes home to Lagos for a short visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. In a city dense with story, the unnamed narrator moves through a mosaic of life, hoping to find inspiration for his own. He witnesses the “yahoo yahoo” diligently perpetrating email frauds from an Internet café, longs after a mysterious woman reading on a public bus who disembarks and disappears into a bookless crowd, and recalls the tragic fate of an eleven-year-old boy accused of stealing at a local market. Along the way, the man reconnects with old friends, a former girlfriend, and extended family, taps into the energies of Lagos life—creative, malevolent, ambiguous—and slowly begins to reconcile the profound changes that have taken place in his country and the truth about himself.
Teju Cole, Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
Every Day Is for the Thief—originally published in Nigeria in 2007—is a wholly original work of fiction. This revised and updated edition is the first version of this unique book to be made available outside Africa.
Every Day Is for the Thief, by turns funny, mournful, and acerbic, offers a portrait of Nigeria in which anger, perhaps the most natural response to the often lamentable state of affairs there, is somehow muted and deflected by the author’s deep engagement with the country: a profoundly disenchanted love. Teju Cole is among the most gifted writers of his generation.
[Teju Cole] casts a spell that’s hard to classify. . . . Open City earned its author comparisons to the German writer W. G. Sebald, whose work wanders and ruminates in a similar way. Every Day Is for the Thief includes photos that Mr. Cole took in Lagos, a Sebaldian touch that is likely to keep the comparisons coming.
Cole was recently interviewed by The New York Times for their Sunday Book Review series where he touched on what he is currently reading, his favourite novelists, reading experiences in his childhood, favourite overlooked writers, poets, art history books and works that made him laugh and cry. Still my favourite exchange is this one,
NYT: What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
TJ: I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.
Photo credit: Harvard Book Store.
Tickets: This event is FREE.
Date: Friday April 4, 2014, 7PM
Where: Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
The Future Generation Art Prize are calling artists (up to the age of 35) to sumbit work for this year’s award. There are no restrictions concerning gender, nationality, race or artistic medium. This worldwide contemporary art prize is an innovative international award investing in the artistic development and new production of works. Awarded through a competition, judged by a distinguished jury, the Prize is founded on the idea of generosity, a network of outstanding patron artists and institutional partners, and a highly democratic application procedure.
The prize was established by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation to discover, recognize and give long-term support to a future generation of artists. The Victor Pinchuk Foundation and the PinchukArtCentre have opened the Application Procedure for the third edition of the Future Generation Art Prize 2014. The deadline for submission is April 12 2014.
Artists are requested to apply online. Starting from 2014 the Future Generation Art Prize will accept applications in 10 different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. Read more about participation rules here.
The winner receives a total of $100,000: $60,000 as a cash award, and $40,000 towards the production of new work. An additional $20,000 is allocated to fund artist-in-residency programmes for up to five Special prize-winners.
The timeline is as follows:
Application Procedure: 13 January – 12 April 2014
Selection Procedure: April – May 2014
Shortlist Announcement: June 2014
Exhibition of the Shortlisted Artists at the PinchukArtCentre: October 2014 – January 2015
Future Generation Art Prize 2014 Award Ceremony: December 2014
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye winner of te 2012 Future Generation Art Prize.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, “Metaphysic,” 2012 (oil on canvas).
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, “No Mind for Memory”, 2012 (oil on canvas).
Toyin Odutola is one of my favourite artists. I first wrote about her here where I posted about her exhibition titled My Country Has No Name, an exhibition of pen ink drawings on paper, metallic marker drawings, ink on black board and lithographs. Together, the range of works represent Odutola’s practice which is grounded in an obsessively fine and meticulous application of line that has become the specified visual language through which she explores the human form. Odutola’s work is an extension of being Nigerian born and growing up in the conservative South’s Alabama. She is making a firm indent in the art fraternity with her crafted, multi-layered, textured black ballpoint pen illustrations. Represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, her growing popularity has also landed her a spot on the 2012 Forbes ‘Art & Style’ 30 under 30 list.
SouthXeast: Contemporary Southeastern Art is an exhibition featuring emerging and underrepresented mid-career artists from several southeastern states in the US. This is the fourth edition of this exhibition, which has been presented every three years at Florida Atlantic University since 2005. Co-curated by Rod Faulds, University Galleries director, and guest curator Sybille Canthal Welter, the exhibition results from a thorough review of hundreds of artists recommended by curators, critics, past “southXeast” artists and FAU art faculty. Figurative painter Toyin Odutola’s (Alabama) selected pen and ink drawings focus on identity, specifically the “sociopolitical concept of skin color.”
Toyin Odutola, “LTS V” (2014), Charcoal and pastel on paper. 30 x 40 inches.
Toyin Odutola, “You were all brothers once, but have since forgotten” (2013 – 2014) Charcoal, pastel and marker on paper. 69 x 41.5 inches.
Odutola and musician/artist Solange Knowles took part in NOWNESS’ series created in conjunction with EDITION Hotels. In this episode entitled “Inspiration,” the pair unpack their shared appreciation for one another: Knowles’ first correspondence with Odutola was after she looked to track down the artist’s intricate, embossed pieces after a sold-out exhibition at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery; she went on to commission an artwork which brought the two creatives closer,
I think the essence of collaboration is being able to lay yourself on the line…The best collaborations are not knowing what to expect; being completely open-minded and having a sense of vulnerability.
The pair have a mutual muse in Africa, as reflected in Knowles’ most recent EP release, True—co-written with Dev Hynes—which gave rise to the Cape Town-filmed video to “Losing You,” and My Country Has No Name, the third solo show from Odutula.“It was months and months of creating, so it was really nice to have Solange’s voice in my head as I’m working,” explains Odutola of listening to her friend’s music. “Your message is something that really connected with me; I see myself in your work.”
Wangechi Mutu, People in Glass Towers Should not Imagine Us, 2003
Opening Reception: April 17, 2014
On view: April 18 – July 6, 2014
The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami will present Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, a comprehensive survey of Wangechi Mutu, a Kenya-born, New York-based artist whose multi-faceted work captures 21st century global sensibility. This retrospective began at the Nasher Museum of Art and will made its way to the Brooklyn Museum from October 2013 to March 2014 and will be at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in September 2014. The exhibition includes more than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present, including a new site-specific mural and a black box theater projection of her newest video. Approximately 30 of the artist’s sketchbook drawings, dating from 1995 to the present, will also be on view, revealing fascinating insight into her creative process.
This exhibit is part of MOCA’s Knight Exhibition Series, which is made possible by a $5 million endowment allowing MOCA to fulfill its mission to present the best new and multimedia work by local and international emerging and experimental artists to a diverse audience.
Wangechi Mutu, Yo Mama, 2003
Wangechi Mutu, One Hundred Lavish Months, 2004
Since earning her M.F.A. from Yale University in 2000, Wangechi Mutu, who trained as both a sculptor and anthropologist, has come to be regarded as one of the most inventive and critically-engaged artists of her generation. Combining materials and imagery from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the high fashion industry and science fiction, Mutu creates works that depict fantastical worlds as places for profound exploration of race, gender and power. Her work is a critical investigation of issues ranging from colonialism to displacement, ritual, perceptions of Africa and the female form.
Placing centrality on the female form, Wangechi Mutu’s provocative body of work imagines hybrid creatures and surreal landscapes that comment on commercialism, globalization and cultural norms. We are thrilled to be presenting the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to her work.
– Alex Gartenfeld, MOCA Interim Director and Chief Curator
A new site-specific mixed media mural created for the MOCA presentation will welcome visitors into exhibition galleries, which will be transformed into a forest-like environment populated by the installation of large-scale felt trees. MOCA’s Pavilion Gallery will be transformed into a black box theater for the projection of the artist’s first-ever animated videoThe End of eating Everything, 2013, in which Mutu works with musician Santigold to bring her elaborate collages to life in a magical narrative set in the sky.
The exhibit incorporates all aspects of Mutu’s prolific practice which includes collage, drawing, installation, sculpture, performance and video. Within this setting, Mutu’s iconic collages will be prominently featured, including new commissions and rare early works. Two other videos are featured in the exhibition: Eat Cake, 2012, which addresses ritual and overindulgence and Amazing Grace, 2005, a meditation on the slave trade and displaced populations.
Still from Eat Cake (2012) by Wangechi Mutu
Other features Ciné Kenya has done about Wangechi Mutu include her incredible work as the artistic director for a Pegasus Warning music video here.
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
When: April 18 – July 6, 2014, Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm
Price: General Admission: $5.00 Students & Seniors: $3.00 for concessions prices go here.
Influenced by the energy and intensity of the 100m sprint (a global event that captivates audiences in under 10 seconds.), 9·88 Films invites filmmakers of all levels of experience in Scotland, the UK, and across the Commonwealth to create films up to 10 seconds long, on any subject and using any form of moving image, and submit it online.
Starting January 2014, every month, the Nairobi chapter of The Awesome Foundation are giving away KES 100,000 for “awesome projects” in Nairobi. Application deadline is the second Friday of each month. The foundation describes their mission and objectives as,
…an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe. Created in…Boston, the Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is pooled together from the coffers of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees” and given upfront in cash, check, or gold doubloons.
The chapters are autonomous and organized by the trustees around geographic areas or topics of interest. The Foundation provides these grants with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. It is, in the words of one of our trustees, a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.
The trustees of the Nairobi Chapter are just regular people living in Nairobi. Every month they individually contribute the equivalent of US$1000 that goes into a pot to fund a project by an individual or group or organization that has “a brilliant idea that brings awesomeness to Nairobi.” They do not charge any fees so don’t be deceived by anyone into paying anything.