African Art in London

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Art Connect: Women Artists from Africa and its Diasporas @ Tiwani Contemporary

n.paradoxa 31

If you’d like to find out more about the work and experiences of female visual artists and curators in Africa, go along to Tiwani Contemporary next week for the latest event in their Art Connect series. This panel discussion coincides with the launch of the latest edition of n. paradoxa international feminist art journal, which looks at ‘Africa and its Diasporas’, and is guest edited by CCA, Lagos founder and director Bisi Silva.

Panellists: Sonia Boyce, artist (UK); Angèle Etoundi Essamba, photographer (Netherlands); Nancy Mteki, photographer (Zimbabwe); Katy Deepwell, art historian and n. paradoxa founder and editor (UK); and Giulia Lamoni, art historian (Portugal).

The event will be moderated by art historian and curator Christine Eyene.

More info here.

Thursday 28 March
6:30 – 8:30pm

Tiwani Contemporary
16 Little Portland Street, London

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Peter Clarke @ Rivington Place

Peter Clarke

Peter Clarke

To welcome in the new year, Iniva presents Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats, a major retrospective of the work of South African artist Peter Clarke. Clarke has chronicled South Africa’s social and political history for the last sixty years, but his work is largely unknown to UK audiences; this show promises to change that.

There’s a curator’s tour on 31st January with Tessa Jackson, and several other events to keep an eye on, including a talk by Professor Annie E. Coombes on 7th March, exploring ‘women’s art practice in South Africa as an alternative political arena’.

Show: until 9th March

Opening hours: Tues, Weds, Fri 11am – 6pm, Thurs late opening until 9pm, Sat 12-6pm

Rivington Place, London

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Politics of Representation @ Tate Modern

Three Continents (2010) – Nástio Mosquito

This Saturday, don’t miss the Tate Tanks take-over from Otobong Nkanga and Nástio Mosquito. Both artists will be engaging with the ‘Politics of Representation‘ – that is, ideas like cultural identity, memory and belonging, and how we understand and engage with them – in the context of Tate’s collections. Their interventions will involve combinations of performance, installation, video, and perhaps even a bit of audience participation… Nkanga will be in residence throughout the day, and Mosquito will take over for the evening slot. For an idea of what to expect, maybe take a look at Mosquito’s film My African Mind.

The day’s events are the first part of Across the Board, an exciting new series looking at contemporary artistic production in and from Africa, which is taking place over the next year or so in London (United Kingdom), Accra (Ghana), Douala (Cameroon), and Lagos (Nigeria). The project has been made possible through Tate’s partnership with Guaranty Trust Bank, which I first posted about last year. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Also – while you’re at the Tanks, don’t forget to take a look at the mesmerising William Kentridge film installation.

Date: Sat 24 Nov

Tickets: free, but booking is advised for the evening performance from Mosquito – book here.

Otobong Nkanga – 10.00–19:00
Nástio Mosquito – 20.30–22.00

The Tanks at Tate Modern
Bankside, London

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Seminar: Contemporary Art in Nigeria @ SOAS

There’s a seminar on Contemporary Art in Nigeria coming up at SOAS’s Centre of African Studies, presented by sculptor Dr Edewor Uyoyou Nelson, who is also Leventis Visiting Fellow.

The event will chaired by Dr Charles Gore, Senior Lecturer in the History of African Art (SOAS), and there will be discussion led by Maria Varnava, Director of Tiwani Contemporary Gallery. Check out the details of Tiwani’s latest exhibition here.

Date: 29 November 2012

Time: 17.00-18.30

Room 4421, College Building, SOAS
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London


William Kentridge @ Tate Modern

I am not me, the horse is not mine – William Kentridge in collaboration with Philip Miller and Catherine Meyburgh (2008)

I first had a look around the Tanks at Tate Modern about three years ago, just before the renovations began. It was easy to see the potential in the cavernous, booming spaces, and there were even a few films installed to give an impression of how things would look. But there was an awful lot of work to do to make it suitable for showing art: the constant drip, drip of water, the dangerously uneven surfaces, the crime-scene-style yellow tape cordoning off dangling live wires overhead… I even saw the remains of a crab lurking by a shallow puddle. I kid you not.

Many months later and it’s a different story. The Tanks are proving to be one of the most exciting new art spaces in London, with an ambitious and varied programme of films, installations, live art and performances which in different ways draw the audience directly into conversation with the artwork. Tate Modern Director Chris Dercon has suggested that it is ‘the true meeting of artworks and audiences that will establish what the Tanks are and can be’. It’ll be interesting to see how visitors respond in these spaces which, a bit like the turbine hall, are both overwhelmingly large and somehow approachable.

Coming up soon is an eight-channel video installation I am not me, the horse is not mine by South African artist William Kentridge, which promises to make the most of the space. It’s an intriguingly bonkers idea drawn from Kentridge’s recent staging of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1930 opera The Nose, which is in turn based on an absurdist short story of the same name written almost 100 years earlier by Nikolai Gogol. In the story, the nose disappears from the face of a Russian official, only to reappear on the face of one of his superiors. [correction: it takes on a life of its own. As they do.] For Kentridge, The Nose is a platform for examining the rise and fall of Russian avant-gardes in the 1920s and 30s, both as a celebration of the flourishing of creative energies, and an elegy for their eventual demise.

The installation combines live action film, archival footage and stop-motion animation, and has previously been shown in conjunction with a performance by the artist. There’s more info about this and other work on this website from MoMA which was produced at the time of his excellent solo show there in 2010.

Back at Tate Modern, don’t miss the artist’s talk in the Starr Auditorium on Sunday 11th November, 14.00 – 15.30, £12 (concessions available) – for more info and to book tickets, take a look here.

Show: 11 Nov 2012 – 20 Jan 2013

Opening hours: Sun-Thurs, 10.00-18.00, Fri-Sat, 10.00-22.00

Tate Modern
Bankside, London

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Film Africa 2012 @ London venues

FIlm Africa 2012

It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, and the London Film Festival is coming up, which can only mean one thing: following hot on its heels in early November is Film Africa, London’s annual festival celebrating African cinema.

There’s a smattering of films from Africa at the LFF (take a peek at the country listings here) but for varied and ambitious programming, Film Africa is the place to look. Crammed into the 10 days of the festival are over 70 films, 35 Q&A sessions with filmmakers, 8 music nights, free workshops and more…

Check the website for dates, venues, ticket information etc, but here are some highlights:

Difficult Love (dir. Zanele Muholi and Peter Goldsmid, South Africa, 2010)

Difficult Love (dir. Zanele Muholi and Peter Goldsmid)

I was lucky enough to see this film a while back at the South London Gallery, and it’s great to see it getting two airings during the festival (here and here), especially in the light of the appalling recent theft of the bulk of Muholi’s archive. Good on Film Africa for sending a clear message that Muholi’s work, which explores the experiences of black lesbians in South Africa, is essential viewing.

Lust (El Shooq) (dir. Khaled El Hagar, Egypt/France, 2011)

Lust (El Shooq) (dir. Khaled El Hagar)

This is the London premiere of this film by provocative multi-award-winning Egyptian filmmaker Khaled El Hagar. It won the Golden Pyramid Award for Best Film at Cairo’s International Film Festival in 2010. Followed by a Q&A with El Hagar (TBC).

Material (dir. Craig Freimond, South Africa, 2012)

Material (dir. Craig Freimond)

This South African comedy stars Riaad Moosa as a wannabe comedian struggling with the expectations of his family. It’s also showing at the London Film Festival. There’s a review here and more info and a trailer here.

Filming Tomorrow

Basia Lewandowska Cummings (from Africa Is A Country) discussed the fascinating projects of alternative filmmaking collectives across the Arab world at Africa Utopia earlier this year; here’s a rare opportunity to see more of their work on the big screen.

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‘Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom’ @ TEDxEuston

Thanks to Dr Ike Anya for putting this on my radar: the next TEDxEuston event is now open for booking, and places fill up fast, so if you want to attend, act quickly.

As the ‘x’ indicates, TEDxEuston is an independently organised TED event. The only Africa-focused TEDx event held outside the African continent, it ‘aims to reflect ideas and inspired thinking of a new generation of African leaders’.

This year’s event has the theme ‘Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom’, and has a great line-up of speakers, with a handful of big hitters from the arts and cultural sectors – novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, digital artist Jepchumba and novelist and journalist Aminatta Forna – alongside high-flyers in the worlds of business and politics.

It’s a non-profit event (speakers and organisers are unpaid); attendance costs £70 (or £50 if you’re a student) and includes meals all day and the after party. You can register here.

Sat 1 December 2012, 10:30-22:30

The Mermaid Conference and Event Centre
Puddle Dock, Blackfriars, London

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Deloitte Ignite ‘Africa Weekend’ @ Royal Opera House

After all the excitement of the Southbank’s Africa Utopia season, now the Royal Opera House is having a go – at the end of the month, Covent Garden will be taken over by ‘Africa Weekend’, aka Deloitte Ignite, a three-day festival of African music, dance, film, visual art, performance and more, curated by artist Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Following his hugely popular fourth plinth commission, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, Shonibare turned his attention to another London landmark, the Royal Opera House, where this summer he installed a sculpture on the side of the building called Globe Head Ballerina. I have yet to see it myself, so I can’t judge whether Shonibare has achieved his aim of bringing a ‘childhood sense of magic and wonder to the façade of the Royal Opera House’, but here’s a little preview:

Globe Head Ballerina – Yinka Shonibare MBE (2012)

Now, continuing his relationship with the ROH, Shonibare is curating the ‘Africa Weekend’, a ‘celebration of traditional African and avant-garde arts and culture, expressing Africa’s global contribution to the contemporary arts world’. There’s certainly a great programme lined up, and in contrast to Africa Utopia, it seems much more focused on listening, moving and watching rather than talking (i.e. more performances, less chat). I’m still a bit uncomfortable about the ‘let’s celebrate Africa’ vibe, but when festivals like this bring so many great artists and performers together in one place, it’s hard not to enjoy it… best of all, the daytime events are all free.

Visual art and film highlights include:

  • Africa on the Piazza: open-air screenings of African films, from classic to contemporary, curated by Yinka Shonibare and John Akomfrah (founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective). Covent Garden Piazza, Saturday 1st Sept, 14.00-10.00
  • Rotimi Fani-Kayode: photographs exploring gay African identities (which I enjoyed a lot when I saw them at Rivington Place a while back)

Plus loads of exciting dance, performance and music. You can watch a trailer for the festival here, and see more info about the programme here.

31 August – 2 September

Royal Opera House / Covent Garden – various venues.

Some evening events are ticketed. Daytime events are FREE, but also ticketed. Both free and paid-for tickets are available through the website.

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Temitayo Ogunbiyi @ Tiwani Contemporary

This evening, there’s another Art Connect event from Tiwani Contemporary. Following her spot on a panel at Africa Utopia at the weekend, US-born, Nigeria-based artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi will be taking centre-stage to discuss her practice, which is often site-specific and uses a variety of media including drawing, fabric and collage. More info here.

Event: Tuesday, 24 July, 6:30pm

Tiwani Contemporary
16 Little Portland Street
London W1W 8BP