THE AFRICAN ART IN VENICE FORUM
The African Art in Venice Forum is a two days event which will take place on the 9th and 10th of May 2017, during the opening week of the 57th Venice Biennale in the Piano Nobile of Palazzo Dandolo, Hotel Monaco.
The African Art in Venice Forum was born from the necessity to compensate for the lack of representation of many African countries at the Venice Biennale. Only 7 out of 54 African countries are represented in national pavilions in the 57th Biennale Dell’Arte di Venezia.
The African Art in Venice Forum is held in two auditoriums, one for institutional talks, and one for artists talks. The program of the institutional auditorium is organized in sections that look at how the African art scene relates to the world, to itself, and to the cross-border tool of the web. In the “Outlook” section we will talk of Africa outside of Africa, looking at how curators in African art museums in western countries are reinventing the ways African art is acquired, exhibited and promoted, with the panel “Rebranding African Art in Western Museums”, with: Karen Milbourne, curator at the National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution in Washington, Silvia Forni, curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and president of ACASA Triennial in Accra, Reem Fadda, who curated last year’s Marrakech Biennale and is now curating the first exhibition of the Palestinian Museum, Zoe Whitley, curator for International Art at Tate Modern in London, and Alicia Knock, curator for African Art at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. We will be also looking at the relationships between African and Chinese cultures in the panel curated by Davide Quadrio, curator at Arthub in Shanghai and Hong Kong. “CHINAFRIQUE, from a continent to a country and return; connections, perceptions and visions of, and from a parallel world” is the title of the discussion, which will feature Lucrezia Cippitelli as a moderator. Speakers will be Dabing Chen, collector, founder of the Chensia Art Foundation, Daan Roggeveen, architect based in Shanghai, and co-founder of the Go West Project and Mansour Cisa Kanakassy, a senegalese artist who has widely researched African and Chinese culture relationships. The last panel of this section, “Below the Line: Africa’s Engagement with the Southern Hemisphere” will be curated by Another Antipode, promoter of the first major exhibition of African contemporary art in Australia, which will be held in Perth this summer and will travel across the country for the next two years. It will feature Michael Memeo and Gerald Sanyangore, founders of Another Antipode, as well as Valérie Kabov and Roelof Petrus van Wyk, curators of the show. In the “Within & Without” section we will discuss the diversity of art ecosystems in the African continent, and try to demonstrate the importance of each one in relation to the grassroots development of a solid infrastructure for the promotion of the arts in the continent. “The role of corporate collection in developing the infrastructure for the promotion of the arts in African countries” is a panel that will focus on what impact corporate collections can have on the art scene of African countries, and how their activity can influence the rise of a collectors base fostering research and policy making in favour of the arts. Discussants will be: Serge Tiroche, founder of the Tiroche de Leon collection, and Hannah O’Leary, director of the new department of African Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s, along with speakers from corporate collections in Africa.
A panel called “African Imaginary Countries” will look at cross-border and noborders narratives in African artists’ practices, and will feature speeches by Ingrid Masondo, curator at the South African National Gallery, Memory Biwa, historian researcher at University of Namibia, Younes Bouadi from the New World Summit, and Ilaria Conti, an indipendent researcher. In a panel curated by AKAA, the African art Fair in Paris, we will look at how digital media is impacting the art production in the continent. In“Mapping digital media in contemporary African art”, we will discuss these issues with Amina Belgheti, marketing manager for Instagram France, Victoria Mann, founder of AKAA, Azu Nwagbogu, founder of Lagos Photo Festival and the African Artists Foundation, and Owanto, a Gabon-born artist. The panel “First do no harm: accidental intentions in contemporary African photography” will be dedicated to photography in Africa and will be curated by Lagos Photo Festival, featuring Azu Nwagbogu and Maria Pia Bernardoni. A panel titled “Innovative models for the promotion of the arts in the African Continent” will focus on the new models of art promotion which have risen in African countries, and have successfully impacted new public and social strata, creating momentum in the local art scene. It will feature curators from the soon to open Zeitz MoCAA Museum in Cape Town. “Building Sustainable Art Sectors in Africa – the rise of new galleries.” is a discussion that will seek to create an overview of the cultural economics in the context of African contemporary art as well as the role of emerging African galleries in decolonising the context of art production on the continent. Featured speakers will be Valerie Kabov – Co-founder of EAAGA, Editor at Large Art Africa Magazine, Director First Floor Gallery Harare, Marc Stanes – Director/Curator Ebony Contemporay, independent art advisor, Danda Jarolimek – Co-Founder of EAAGA, and Director Circle Art Gallery and Circle Art Agency. Our “.org” section will focus on innovative digital platforms for the promotion of the arts in Africa, as well as making the point of how creativity is used cross-border by profit and nonprofit organizations to promote education and social development. In “Web-Africanism, digital platform, cross border narratives and the promotion of the art in Africa”, will be discussed with Victoria Rogers, from Kickstarter, Tokini Peterside, founder of Art X Lagos, Adora Mba and Claude Grunitzky from True Africa. The speakers will focus on the role of digital platforms in building a crossborder narrative for the promotion of the arts in Africa. While in “Creativity as a solution” with speakers from LALELA, Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium, AMREF and Lettera27, we will focus on the impact of charities art related projects in supporting the development of the infrastructure for the promotion of the arts in African countries.
Our artists talks auditorium will highlight artists’ researches and social commitments outside of their studios in the panels and dialogues titled “Artists projects beyond their practice”, with Abdoulaye Konaté, Ayana Jackson, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Raquel Van Haver. Another panel, curated by Palesa Motsumi, will look at what it means to be a nomadic nature of artists and how that can, or might, have an influence on one’s work. The segment is titled “Cross – Cultural Imaginaries within a Diaspora Context”, and will feature Palesa Motsumi, Renee Mboya, Nontsikelelo Veleko, and Hugues Ntoto. We will focus on the theme of performance practices with the panel “Performance in Africa, platforms and individual initiatives” and Lhola Amira, South African artist, Jay Pather, curator of the Live Art Festival in Cape Town. Our panel “21st Century feminism and the arts” will try to map new feminist narratives across the African continent and beyond, while “Young Voices in Africa’s Creative Community: the Intersection of Art and Activism” will emphasize the impact of young people’s activism on the continent’s art scene.
Biannually, Venice becomes the world capital of contemporary art. Art enthusiasts, curators, artists, and journalists attend and discuss important social topics regarding the Biennale’s participants. Comparatively by geography, population, and the creative capability of the African continent, very little has been exhibited and discussed about many African countries until now. The lack of content becomes a lack of debate and research.
How unrepresented countries can develop and improve their infrastructure for the promotion of the arts? Which are the factors preventing their community of creatives from thriving both on a national and a global level?
By adding a new platform open to speakers from all countries of the African continent, and many other from international organizations, to present and discuss salient global and diaspora-specific topics, we believe we can trigger the process that will take to the participation of more African national pavilions at the Venice Biennale.
We are committed to keep the Forum as an inclusive platform for networking to proactively facilitate the creation of new collaborations and opportunities, thus adopting a synergistic approach rather than a competitive one.
The project’s partners embrace its synergistic approach, knowing that collaborating and creating new opportunities can add value to the art scene in Africa. They believe that by supporting creatives and intellectuals, mainly through connecting them from across the continent in a global event can help them in researching, developing, and sharing contemporary African narratives. This effort can also encourage the social and economic discourse being explored in current African art practices.