The past months have been quite trying and emotional for the African and global art world. For some, it is still quite hard to articulate the sense of loss, after the passing of colleagues and leading figures in the field of contemporary African and Diaspora arts, from Alanna Lockward (23 March 1961 – 7 January 2019) to Bisi Silva (29 May 1962 – 12 February 2019) and Okwui Enwezor (23 October 1963 – 15 March 2019), gone much too soon in such a short span of time from each other. To them can also be added photography publisher Xavier Barral (1955 – 2019) and the iconic Carolee Schneemann (12 October 1939 – 6 March 2019) and Agnès Varda (30 May 1928 – 29 March 2019).
The mind is still too unsettled to even consider grasping the magnitude of their legacies. For those whose relation to art entails a focus on the writing of art history, there is a renewed sense of urgency to document these exceptional practices. And to continue engaging with artists, from emerging generations, to those whose lives span multiple chapters of our art histories.
But there has also been some uplifting news in the African and Diaspora art scene, with Dr. Zoé Whitley, curator of the British Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennial joining the Hayward Gallery in London; Koyo Kouoh being appointed Executive Director and Chief Curator of Zeitz MoCAA in Cape Town; Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi joining MoMA in New York; and the indefatigable Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung curating the 12th Bamako Encounters in Mali next November.
All this makes for interesting changes and exciting artistic programmes to look for. In the meantime a few highlights in our April diary:
Hassan Hajjaj: The Path, at New Art Exchange, Nottingham from 6 April to 23 June 2019. The Moroccan artist will present pieces characterising his signature colourful and patterned works often featuring appropriated brand logos and found objects. In addition to the exhibition are planned participative events including “Everyday Superstars”, inspired by Hajjaj’s My Rock Star series. New Art Exchange’s Mezzanine Gallery will also be transformed into a Salon, designed by Hajjaj to celebrate and share creativity. A site-specific art installation, Le Salon will be a space where visitors can read, relax and research. It will also be a platform to experience local talents.
New Art Exchange
39-41 Gregory Boulevard
Nottingham NG7 6BE
In Morocco, the Biennale Internationale de Casablanca is launching its incubation programme in the vacant parts of its workspaces now dedicated to curatorial and artistic experimentations. The BIC – Project Space will be hosting medium-scale exhibitions, screenings, workshops and meetings. The first project is entitled Regards – Photographie Camerounaise, an exhibition by Romuald Dikoumé, Blaise Djilo, Max Mbakop, Yvon Ngassam, Antoine Ngolkedo’o and Charlotte Yonga.
A collaboration with Yaounde Photo Network, this showcase will also include Digital Africa – Casablanca, a screening programme of video art from Africa and the Diaspora featuring the following established and emerging video artists: Hakeem Adam (Ghana), Driss Aroussi (Morocco/France), Wendinagegn Belete (Ethiopia/Norway), Paul Emmanuel (South Africa), Badr El Hammami (Morocco/France), Khireddine Khaldoun (Algeria), Mohammed Amine Al Makouti (Morocco), MahlÕt Sansosa (Brazil/Tanzania), Yvon Ngassam (Cameroon), Marton Robinson (Costa Rica), Leandré le Roux (South Africa) and Carly Whitaker (South Africa).
Opening Thursday 18 April 2019, 18.00 – 21.00.
BIC – Project Space
30, Rue El Hajeb, Bourgogne
In Brussels, Hank Willis Thomas solo exhibition To Whom it May Concern opens at Maruani Mercier Gallery from 14 April. We’ll join the American artist and Open Society President Patrick Gaspard, for a Conversation on Art & Politics at Bozar on 24 April from 20.00.
Hank Willis Thomas: To Whom it May Concern
14 April – 22 May 2019
Maruani Mercier Gallery
Avenue Louise 430
Cover image: Driss Aroussi, Sisyphe, 2017.