Hi there. If you’ve been wondering where I have been I have not disappeared and posts will resume on African Digital Art. I have been working on a new project Future Lab Africa. It is an extension of African Digital Art and has two components an Exhibition curated by Tegan Bistrow and a podcast series where I will be interviewing artists and creative minds on art, culture and technology. For more about this project please check out Future Lab Africa. Also for more information about the exhibition please see below.
POST AFRICAN FUTURES EXHIBITION
May 21 – June 20th
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
Curated by Tegan Bristow
The exhibition proposes a challenge to art by viewing engagements around communications technology and technology use, as a site for critically engaging African identification and a resistance to the globalisation of culture.
Bristow’s research began as a survey of work, focusing on South Africa, Kenya and a small concentration in Nigeria. What Bristow found in this survey was a rich and complex reference to technology that serves a number of critical positions, the most important being a pointed focus on identification and differentiation. Here artists are using the conceptual frame of digital technologies and technology languages as a way to talk about African cultures against what they are perceived to be. This is multi-faceted and acts as a critique of both of globalised media practices and romanticised Africanisms. These practices have their foundation in the socio-cultural; global image generation; traditional practices and performance.
Digital Art as a medium-specific engagement in this frame addresses the digital as an imagined metaphysical conduit. Artists use the digital’s metaphorical capacity to represent the unseen and the magical, both as representation of cultural practices that cannot be adequately portrayed through image or film and as a critique of Western systems of knowledge. This frames a critique of globalised forms and a resistance against a cultural predomination. What Bristow sees in digital aesthetics in Africa is a response; presented as breaking and playing with visual cultures, mixing globalised image norms into local memes and the exploration of globally critical perspective on knowledge.
It is important to understand that the practice is definitely not a romantic indigenisation of technology or cute innovations for the irrevocably poor. It is rather a type of border thinking, a live conversation with the world that brings contemporary culture together with socio-cultural knowledge systems.
The title: Post African Futures challenges a number of notions. The first being AfroFuturism as a title for any African work that addresses technology or science fiction subject matters. Many African artists have been lumped into this criterion, yet they present articulations that are more unique to their particular regions. The exhibition is an exploration of multiple “African cultures of technology” that have unique socio-political and economic histories. For instance, technology in South Africa is historically tied to apartheid, a possessive aggressive system of control where communications technology is still a power driven medium. South African artists reflect this — works are visually aggressive and challenge relationships to power, reflecting a lo-fi abrasiveness, an exploration of extremes and failures making for rich visual and aural work. While Kenyan histories are tied to social rebellion and change, here works strongly interrogate social justice, using networks and social narrative as primary conduits. Post African Futures challenges the notion of “futures and innovation” as failure in bypassing current social and cultural transformation, thus inviting its audience to recognize the socio-cultural and metaphorical use of technology in critiquing histories and simultaneously negotiate the importance of now.
CUSS Group (SA),
Tabita Rezaire (SA),
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (SA),
Thenjiwe Nkosi (SA),
Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria),
Haythem Zakaria (Tunisia),
Jean Katambayi Mukendi (DRC),
Sam Hopkins (Kenya),
Muchiri Njenga (Kenya),
Brooklyn J Pakathi (SA),
Wanuri Kahui (Kenya),
Dineo Sheshe Bopape (SA),
Kapwani Kiwanga (FR),
Brother Moves On (SA),
Just A Band (Kenya),
Lebogang Rasethaba & Nthato Mokgata (SA),
Smiso Zwane (OKMalumKoolKat)(SA).
Imagineering Lagos Collective (Nigeria)