African art has been having a very long moment. Over the past 10 years, contemporary artists from the continent – from the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui to Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu to South African photographer Zanele Muholi – have continued to build their names on the international stage.
African artists have been presenting in major museums and galleries across Europe and the United States, while increasing numbers of African countries have shown at the prestigious Venice Biennale, including Ghana’s critically-acclaimed debut this year.
Both Sotheby’s and Bonhams auction houses meanwhile have set up their own African contemporary and modern art departments, signalling that the market is paying attention, too.
“Going into the new decade, I feel we are starting from a stronger foothold,” said Marwan Zakhem, the founder of Gallery 1957, in Ghana’s capital, Accra. “The international art scene has woken up to the wealth of creativity offered across Africa and the diaspora,” Zakhem told Al Jazeera.
“A lot of groundwork has been made in terms of affirming African art as a key component of the ever-flourishing arts scene, so it’s an exciting time to be a part of it”.
What is most notable, however, is the growth seen within the continent. Addressing a crippling lack of infrastructure that has previously forced talent to look elsewhere for opportunity and support, major cities are bolstering their local scenes while establishing themselves as international art destinations.
Art fairs have popped up to seduce collectors, new residences have given creatives spaces to develop their craft and museums such as Cape Town’s Zeitz MOCAA and the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakech have opened to showcase the best on offer.
“There’s still more to be done though,” Zakhem said. “I hope the decade ahead sees more continent-wide investment in the visual arts – more museums, more projects, more educational support – and more events bringing international visitors here.”
As the year – and the decade – draws to a close, here are four African art events to watch out for in 2020 and beyond.
Marrakech enters new decade as first African Capital of Culture
Thanks to the opening of MACAAL, 2018’s inaugural Moroccan edition of the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair and the commercial success of artists such as Hassan Hajjaj – the subject of a recent retrospective at Paris’s Maison Europeenne de la Photographie – Marrakech has become a major draw for critics and collectors.
As 2020’s African Capital of Culture – the first city to hold the designation – it will no doubt be increasing its efforts to engage art lovers and buyers alike.
“Over the last five years, Marrakech has struck an excellent balance in preserving and building on its rich cultural histories, while establishing itself as a space for artistic experimentation. Alongside this, there is a growing number of commercial spaces and both independent and government funding, giving artists more opportunities to support their practices in the long term,” said 1:54 founder Touria El Glaoui.
“I grew up in Morocco and my father [Hassan El Glaoui] was a painter who always encouraged us to engage with art histories, so seeing the scene grow and blossom has been amazing to witness.”
In February, 1:54 will return to the city’s luxurious La Mamounia hotel for the third year, hosting some 20 European and African galleries. At the same time, MACAAL, the Muse Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech and other local spaces will be staging their own exhibitions, creating an unofficial art week of sorts.
How the rest of the year shapes up will surely set the template for how future cities make use of the Capital of Culture designation.
Art X Lagos celebrates five years
The birthplace of art stars including Ben Enwonwu – whose Tutu, dubbed the African Mona Lisa, sold for a record $1.6m in 2018 – Victor Ehikhamenor and Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nigeria is an obvious choise to be the home of West Africa’s first international art fair: Art X Lagos.
Launched in 2016 by entrepreneur Tokini Peterside, Art X Lagos serves as an exhibition space, marketplace and classroom for those looking to immerse themselves in the world of contemporary African art.
It is also notable for prioritising younger artists over established pioneers through both its exhibitions and the Access Bank ART X Prize, which awards one emerging artist with funding, mentoring and an international residency.
“I see how wonderful and massive [Art X Lagos] is becoming and I think it’s placing Lagos as a real arts hub, which I really love, and a serious one,” said Adora Mba, the founder of the Afropolitan Collector, an art advisory platform.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how big it can go.”
Dak’Art Biennale returns
Of all Africa’s major art events, few rouse as much enthusiasm and respect as Senegal‘s Dakar Biennale, commonly known as Dak’Art.
“It always brings together the best of the African art community to show brilliant work, engage in important dialogues and, of course, celebrate,” said Gallery 1957’s Zakhem.
“It always outdoes itself,” agreed Mba, for whom Dak’Art is the ultimate place to discover new talent and up-and-comers. “I don’t even know how they keep producing such amazing art and artists and bringing people in.”
Supported by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Communication, the 14th edition will centre on the theme of I’Ndaffa/Forger/Out of Fire – a trilingual take on the word “forge” in Serer, French and English.
“This general theme refers to the founding act of African creation, which nourishes the diversity of contemporary African creativity, while projecting new ways of telling and understanding Africa,” Artistic Director El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, a curator at Dakar’s Theodore Monod Museum of African Art, said in a statement.
“It represents the dynamics and action of creating, recreating and kneading. It thus refers to the forge that transforms, the deposit from which the raw material comes, and to the fire that creates.”
This year’s event will be held from May 28 to June 28.
South Africa’s wine region invites the art world in
Africa may not lead the world in terms of the number of major art events held annually, but there is no shortage of arts professionals looking to add to the tally.
To that end, the Stellenbosch Triennale, conceived by the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust, will make its debut in South Africa in February.
Breaking with convention, the event is more about engaging the community than appealing to art world insiders.
On their website, organisers say they plan to turn the city into a “curated public laboratory for creative expressions and engagements” where all are invited to interrogate our relationship with nature, the limits of technology and the definition of citizenship.
Works will be displayed at sites across the historic city, and there will also be opportunities to continue the conversation in workshops and online.
During these pandemic 'daze,' art an essential service – The Sudbury Star
Article content continued
Online, the producers promise I can learn about thousands of new products, boats, accessories, and services, and receive exclusives Boat Show deals and learn plans for the summer boating season ahead.
From NYC, I signed up to connect directly. I phoned my dear colleague, former Commodore Roy Eaton, residing in Little Current. He has been the collegial, renowned Host of Hosts of the Little Current Cruiser’s Net for the past 17 years. Over the years, Roy Eaton has been written in Sail Magazine, Cruising World and in 2010, he was awarded The Canadian Safe Boating Council Volunteer of the Year, devoted to safe boating.
A seasoned sailor, Roy’s so personable, during summer boating season he’s known as the Voice of the North Channel. The Net broadcasts every morning from July 1 to Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. on VHF Channel 71.
“Roy, will you present at the Boat Show about sailing the North Shore this summer?”
“Bonnie dear,” he laughed, “I’m on as guest speaker in thirty minutes.”
I tuned in, listening to Roy speak about, Summer in Paradise — Northern Georgian Bay and the Fabled North Channel. He showed charts to boaters, sharing knowledge and tips about anchorages. I knew many of them. As a former Caribbean sailor, I learned how to navigate, became proficient, and then took on The North Channel. with help, of course.
Staying afloat is definitely artful.
The day after, the seminar coordinator told Roy; “You broke the bank yesterday. There were 532 boaters in attendance at your seminar. Since our seminars are all recorded and saved, they’ll be on the website starting Jan. 25.”
Happily listening to Roy provide knowledgeable information for boaters who hope to ply the North Shore this summer, about the anchorages, towns, places to dine, and places to hike, was absolute Northern Ontario artistry.
Our Bonnie’s been in the Window Seat for 29 years, always learning about us in Northern Ontario. Please find her at BonnieKogos@gmail.com. She loves hearing from you.
Filipina front-line workers are turning their pandemic struggles into art – CTV News
Throughout her career, registered psychotherapist Elda Almario has spent a great deal putting the mental health of children she works with ahead of her own. But during the pandemic, she says, it’s become even less likely for her to “take a break and reflect.”
Over the past few months, Filipina front-line workers like Almario have found an outlet to relieve bottled-up anxiety, loneliness and fear: Writing their stories down and sharing them.
“Allowing space for my experience to come to the surface became a form of self-care for me,” Almario told CTVNews.ca in an email. “It was great to have a voice and be heard especially during a time when I have been so focused on my work due to increased demands and complex needs.”
The “Stories of Care” writing initiative, run through North York Community House in Toronto, virtually brings together front-line workers such as nurses, retail workers, at-home caretakers, dental hygienists, and cleaners, to share burdens they’ve mostly carried alone.
“It gives me strength, I feel encouraged because I know that no matter what we are facing, we face it with courage, resilience, and positivity and we continue to love what we do,” Olivia Dela Cruz, a paid caretaker of a household of six children, told CTVNews.ca in an email. “My respect [is for] all frontline workers because they all put others before themselves.”
Jennifer Chan, the lead organizer of the initiative, told CTVNews.ca in a video interview that the writers “feel seen and heard in a completely different way.” She said one participant told her, “it was so meaningful to get to write my story and just spend time thinking about me.”
Filipinx people play a crucial role on Canada’s front lines, making up one in 20 health-care workers, according to one study. A third of internationally trained nurses in the country are from the Philippines, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information; with Filipinos making up 90 per cent of migrant caregivers providing in-home care under Canada’s Caregiver Program.
EXPERIENCES CAPTURED IN ART
Chan was inspired to start the program through her work with North York Community House, where she regularly consults with caregivers from the Philippines, who need help filling out government documents.
She and her colleagues were noticing “a lot of stuff coming to the surface” and they wanted to give them an outlet.
“Stories of Care” began last summer as a six-week writing course for a few Filipina front-line workers, and has since grown in attendance and centred on less-time-intensive sessions.
As of last Friday, some of the stories are now featured in a digital exhibition in the DesignTO Festival, based on three Filipinx artists who “read the stories [and] took inspiration from them,” Chan said.
One video called “Balikbayan” – a term for Filipinx people living outside of the Philippines — shows a fruit falling to the ground, turning into a box, crossing the sea, hitting the shore and growing into a tree. This signifies people starting a new life in Canada. The title also refers to the care packages or “Balikbayan boxes” that are sent back to the Philippines.
Another video features an animated circle of faces encircling alternating excerpts about workers’ fears, including getting COVID-19 on the job.
Another piece features a silhouette of a person holding a sign reading, “we love to deliver,” contrasted with alternating English and Tagalog phrases such as: “I need to sacrifice my comfort for my family,” “I didn’t want to move to Canada” and “Migration is no guarantee for a better future.”
“Having artists make renditions of our stories gives us the validation that our stories are valuable,” Gretchen Mangahas, a communications specialist and newcomer to Canada, told CTVNews.ca in an email.
“I felt the power of stories in the shared lived experiences of my Filipina sisters,” she said. “I knew that I was not alone, and that the connection opens opportunities to learn how to navigate in a new country I would call home. It has also created friendships and new avenues for sharing with others.”
FILIPINX FRONT-LINE WORKERS FEEL ‘OVERSIZED TOLL’
Last fall, the Migrant Workers Alliance For Change released a damning report alleging that throughout the pandemic, migrant care workers were subjected to entrapment, long hours, and thousands of dollars in stolen wages by exploitative employers.
Chan said some writers “were feeling stuck in their employer situation” and thought about quitting, but knew it would mean they couldn’t provide for family back home and might potentially lose permanent residency status.
Medical news publication Stat News also reported that COVID-19 has taken an “outsized toll” on mental and physical well-being for Filipino front-line workers in the U.S. Chan said the same could be seen in Canada.
“They need an outlet to reflect through their own stories… we’re not hearing enough from them,” she said. Chan said attendees had a lot of cultural habits to overcome initially, including so-called “toxic positivity” and the “ongoing feeling that these women feel that they have to feel grateful to be here.”
Many worried about their families back home in the Philippines, which was hit by multiple typhoons last year. Chan said others wrote about the strict lockdown measures in the country and about “not being able to go home. Not feeling safe here or there.”
Although most people today are only being able to connect with family over video or the phone, that’s what immigrants have done for decades, said magazine editor Justine Abigail Yu, who facilitates the writing workshop in both English and Tagalog.
“Loving from afar” was a big theme in their writing, she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “Obviously the conditions are quite different on an extreme level, but we’ve always had to show our family who are living in entirely different countries how we care for them and how we love them.”
The organizers said front-line workers’ feelings of isolation and homesickness while living in Canada have only been amplified by the pandemic.
Yu, the founder of magazine Living Hyphen, created an environment where Filipina workers could open up to themselves and to others.
“So many of these caregivers and our immigrant families, we just want to survive. We move to Canada, work our asses off to get by and to make sure that we’re providing for our children and there’s no room to tell stories,” she said. Yu’s role involved “breaking down that barrier first and foremost.”
And the investment appears to have paid off.
“In more ways than one, we deeply resonated with each other’s experience,” Almario said. “I gained a sense of belongingness and community, the feeling of not being alone.”
Caregiver and single mother Dela Cruz agreed, saying being a part of this project “brings back so many memories that I thought completely forgotten. Stories about me that I never thought I will have the courage to share.”
‘Glorified littering’: Junk street art installations popping up around Montreal – Global News
From the Van Horne skate park in the Mile End to NDG’s Saint-Jacques Escarpment, bizarre art installations are popping up around the city.
Prowling panthers, massive abstract beasts — it’s all put together from the imagination of the artist under the pseudonym Junko.
It’s a fitting name, for all the art he creates is entirely made from miscellaneous “trash” that he finds on the street.
“Basically, they’re carefully arranged piles of garbage,” Junko said. “You can call it glorified littering.”
Using things found on the street like car tires, bike frames, even shoes, everything is a workable piece in Junko’s creations.
Car bumpers are a common staple in his creatures.
“They’re definitely a popular item for me,” he said with a laugh.
Over the past few months, he has put together some six different statues around the city and abroad, all varying in size from small to towering.
A timber frame made from recycled wood holds the installations together.
“I’ve been making art my whole life,” Junko said. “My art has always been around creating creatures and characters. This is a new chapter in that.”
He says finding the junk isn’t that hard in the city but finding the right piece can be.
“Sometimes it’s extremely easy. I’ll be walking and find something and carry it home,” he said.
While shying away from the spotlight, Junko says he isn’t trying to make a point with his art, which he says speaks for itself.
“There no deep hidden meaning, it’s just a way to expressing myself,” Junko said.
That so-called trash is getting a lot of likes and recognition on social media and on the street.
“There is a lot of art in the neighbourhood, so it’s good, I’m not against it,” resident Nick Barry-Shaw said.
Juno sees his form of expression as a legal grey zone.
“The people are into it but I’m not sure about the city, though,” Junko laughed.
He said that unlike graffiti, his street art is not vandalism but simply “an organized pile of trash.”
So far, all four art installations in the city have not been taken down, according to Junko.
The young artist says there is a lot more art to come and people should keep their eyes peeled.
“I’m just getting started so, yeah, you can expect more work,” he said.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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