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!
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.
Kichwateli is a short poetic film set in a post-apocalyptic African slum and city. The film takes the viewer on a spiritual and metaphorical voyage through a young boy’s dream, mixing imagery of the boy wandering inquisitively with a live TV as his head to show the effects of media on a young generation.
The short film features music by Just A Band, Modeselektor ( a breakbeat duo from Berlin) and Maasai Mbili (Nairobi-based Art group). The music is a metaphor for the way we are now all plugged into the same images of global anxiety while at the same time we ourselves, are subjects of scrutiny by the all-seeing ubiquitous cameras. The director of Goethe-Institut Nairobi Johannes Hossfeld said this of the project,
Muchiri made one of the best music videos I have ever seen in my life.
Kichwateli was Studio Ang’s contribution to the BLNRB project, a cooperation between Kenyan and German musicians initiated by Goethe-Institut Nairobi and Gebrüder Teichmann. Learn more about the filmmaking process for Kichwateli and the inspirations that led to it’s production by clicking here.
Portrait by Allan Gichigi
Our World Is Round
Our World Is Round is a short film that celebrates the life-time achievement of veteran Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah and his award winning team Safari Simbaz. The film details how Kinjah discovered cycling and what brings him joy in this activity. Having raced and won medals in prestigious races around the world, Kinjah also mentored Tour De France 2013 winner Chris Froome.
Kinjah, the first black African rider to sign for a European cycling team, trained Froome as a cyclist when he was a boy while his family was living in Kenya. The film also delineates Kinjah’s strong desire to transform the lives of the people in his village through his passion and the power of cycling. This is an initiative which has taken form in the Safari Simbaz Trust,
Most of these young boys are school dropouts who would have ended up being gangsters. But through Safari Simbaz, they’ve learned a lot about life, gone back to school and most of them [now] have a career in pro-cycling, representing Kenya in international races globally.
In this film, the advantages that new technology has provided are also brought to the fore. When Kinjah first started cycling professionally, he mainly relied on magazines and newspapers. Now, with the help of web developer Fady Rostom, Kinjah and his team have an online presence that can be reached globally. Read more about the film and view more photos at a previous feature I wrote here.
Kampala Art Biennale is a showcase of contemporary art from Africa with the aim to expose, educate and create debate about the value of art in our society. They are calling all artists working in Africa to apply to partake in the first Kampala Art Biennale. Applications are now open and you are requested to apply online through their website. Application is free of charge and deadline for entries is March 31st 2014.
The first Kampala Art Biennale 2014 is themed: Progressive Africa. The theme is derived from the current Pan African – and increasingly global discussion and discourse that Africa’s economic growth and development is booming and happening right now. Popular phrases heard are: “Africa Is The Future” and “Africa Rising”,
Today…you will come across divergent conversations between different kinds of people; African with African, African with European, Indian with American, all talking about the status of Africa in the global village. Some will say Europe and the rest of the world are moving to Africa for opportunities while others will say African economies are growing into Global markets. In these conversations there is talk about which strategies are the best to accelerate Africa’s progress towards fulfilling the millennium development goals (MDGS) such as curbing poverty, improving formal education…There is increased concern from the west about increased Chinese investment on the continent…All these vibrations suggest one thing; that something is happening on the African continent whether right now as it moves into the future.
The Kampala Art Biennale 2014 is part of this discussion and is calling on African painters, photographers, illustrators, cartoonists, writers and all 2D media artists to present their perception of the current status of Africa through visual art. The verdict will result in over 100 images pro or against the purported progress, with viewers and visitors joining in on the discussion with the help of the visual aids. They believe that this will result in the questioning of African political, social and economic practices.