The State of the Arts in Africa and in South America
12 May 2011 - 9:30 – 17:30
Magdalena López (CEC – Centre for Comparative Studies / University of Lisbon)
POST UTOPIAN IMAGINARIES IN THE PRESENT-DAY CUBAN NARRATIVE
Since the 1990s, the Cuban narrative has been investigating the collapse of the revolutionary utopia. Generally, literary criticism has tended to establish a difference between those narrators who were children of the utopia, born only a few years before 1959 and those who came later, born after that year amid the failure of that same utopia. The two groups are distinguished by one fundamental trait: the first were born in time to share a belief in the premises of the revolution, which those born more recently never had the chance to enjoy. Despite this distinguishing feature, it is possible to find common aspects between the “disillusioned” and the “new generation” who have encouraged us to reconsider the way in which new subjectivities should be approached in a nation that appears to have no future. My research consists of a comparative study of the novels El libro de la realidad (2001) by Arturo Arango, Las bestias (2006) by Ronaldo Menéndez (2006), Paisaje de otoño (1998) by Leonardo Padura and Cien botellas en una pared (2002) by Ena Lucía Portela. These works coincide in their need to deconstruct the identity-based and teleological parameters of the revolutionary discourse, while the last two, far from announcing the end of history, suggest new possibilities for negotiation that have successfully withstood the post-utopian debacle.
Margarida Louro and Francisco Oliveira (CIAUD – Architecture, Urbanism and Design Research Centre / FAUTL – Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Lisbon)
HOUSES FOR A SMALL PLANET. ART, ARCHITECTURE AND TERRITORY, THE CONTEMPORARY URBAN CONDITION OF THE MUSSEQUES OF LUANDA.
Houses for a Small Planet is a research project, investigating the contemporary contingency of growth and urban densification, which, by reflecting on a particular context, namely that of the musseques (slums) of Luanda, proposes a critical approach that promotes solutions for enhancing the potential of new emerging urbanities, in which different scales and fields of expression interact with one another. In fact, as a paradigm of the informal city, the musseques provide a potential case for reflection and intervention in the face of the ever greater concentration and ever faster growth of the population living in degraded conditions. The main aim of this research is therefore to propose autonomous housing units that are sustainable between art, architecture and territory, imposing new logics for their implementation and promoting solutions for the use of space that are based on local potentialities.
Miriam Tavares (CIAC – Centre for Research in Arts and Communication/School of Theatre and Cinema, University of the Algarve)
AFRICAN CINEMA: A POSSIBLE, AND NECESSARY, LOOK
Thousands of films are made in Africa each year. Talking about cinema in Africa means talking about the search for the resources needed to make them. The films are almost always made and distributed in VHS or DVD, which does not invalidate the creation of a language that is peculiar to African cinema and derives precisely from the conditions existing for their production. In order to gain a better knowledge of the Other and to try and understand his place in the construction of a new narrative, one that is more suited to the necessary erasure of the presently existing cultural boundaries, we need to learn his own discourse about the others, who, in this case, are us. In this context, this question is raised: in what way have African societies absorbed, transformed or rejected the western narrative model of modernity? Thus, based on the premise that, through its being a visual form, cinema is more than just a cultural and/or artistic form: it is also a means that we can use to organise ourselves and reflect upon the world. I shall use this medium as a vehicle that may help us to understand the marks that the west has left on African cultures.
Sara Martins (Department of Sociology / Goldsmiths College)
BORDER ART: NOTES ON THE PROBLEMATICS OF ARTISTIC CIRCULATION IN AFRICAN TERRITORY
This paper seeks to problematise the specificities linked to the production of a performing arts festival and its modus operandi within African borders. At the 1st Euro-African Campus for Cultural Cooperation (Mozambique, 2009), one of the questions that brought African cultural producers from different origins and areas of activity closer together was the difficulty of artistic circulation in Africa – the question of borders. The border is linked to the problem of a lack of transport, the difficulty in obtaining and validating visas, linguistic and ethnic borders. There are also cultural borders, but these are, above all, the socio-political ones that dictate the conditions for artistic work and challenge the creativity of programmers. In this research, we look at two highly regarded international festivals as case-studies for investigating this problematics: HIFA – Harare International Festival of Arts, Harare/Zimbabwe; and the Festival Mondiale des Arts Negres, Dakar/Senegal. Both projects have a significant local impact, both in economic and symbolic terms.
Bárbara Alves (Portugal)
From the Centre to the Periphery
Reflecting on a design practice based on shared processes for exploring communication in communities, ideas will be discussed about methodologies, perspectives and conflicts, stressing the importance of cultural interpretations. Projects developed between 2008 and 2010 are presented: From the Centre to the Periphery focuses on first experiences in communities with a strong African presence, on the periphery of Lisbon. The challenge of the context presents activities undertaken with the Grupo de Teatro do Oprimido – Maputo (Theatre of the Oppressed) in Hulene, Maputo; the ZONA project addresses questions related with the public space; and Cadeiras (Chairs) examines the challenge of language and its local idiosyncrasies, as well as offering a particular look at Mozambican material culture.
A graduate in Communication Design from the University of Porto, Barbara Alves specialises in typography and type design. She completed her Master’s degree in 2003 in Type and Media at KABK (the Hague, Holland), with dialogue, a lettering type developed for on-screen subtitling. Since 2004, she has been interested in design as a participatory and social development tool, and has attended a postgraduate course in Culture and Emerging Discourses (Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, New University of Lisbon) and the Master’s Degree Course in Sociology and Planning (Higher Institute of Social and Business Studies – ISCTE, Lisbon). She has also developed several workshops (held in Lisbon, Maputo and Amsterdam) as platforms for practical experimentation. She is currently working on a PhD in the area of design, participation, language and identity questions, at Goldsmiths College, University of London, on the theme of “Reading context: visual worlds, angles of meaning,” under the supervision of Jennifer Gabrys and Bill Gaver. Her professional activity combines two complementary areas of work, as a designer and lecturer: http://work-b.blogspot.com and http://workshop-b.blogspot.com.
Cergio Prudencio (Bolivia)
The Experimental Orchestra of Native Instruments (OEIN)
The Experimental Orchestra of Native Instruments (OEIN)is a unique contemporary music ensemble which works with traditional instruments from the Andean Plateau, recognising the profound cultural significance that such instruments have. OEIN’s aim is to bring the pre-Hispanic roots of the Andean peoples into the present day and to develop a new cultural proposal at the aesthetic and educational level. Their repertoire consists mainly of cutting-edge erudite music, specially created for these instruments, as well as the traditional early music of Bolivia’s Aymara and Quechua communities. In both cases, the treatment that is given to the instruments shows particular respect for their original physical form, their sound emission, and the tuning and performance that are peculiar to each one. Besides being a musical ensemble, OEIN is also a system of basic musical education that works with native instruments as its operative tools. In this way, students simultaneously develop musical skills, thinking capacities and co-operative attitudes that will be valuable for them throughout their lifetime.
Composer, orchestra director, researcher and lecturer, he was the founder of the Experimental Orchestra of Native Instruments (OEIN) and has also been its director since its creation in 1980. With this orchestra, he has developed a contemporary aesthetics of powerful ancestral memories, in works such as La Ciudad (1980), Cantos de Tierra (1990), Cantos Meridianos (1996), Uyariwaycheq (1998), CantosCrepusculares (1999) and Cantos Ofertorios (2009), amongst others. Prudencio has also composed music for conventional instrumental ensembles, such as chamber music groups and soloists, as well as for electric-acoustic and symphony music, which has been widely disseminated in different countries of America and Europe. He was composer-in-residence at the Schloss Wiepersdorf in Germany (2001) and at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center (Italy 2007), as well as a scholarship holder of the Guggenheim Foundation (USA, 2008-2009). In the audiovisual field, Prudencio’s music has accompanied more than forty films, plays, videos and dance performances.
Federica Angelucci (Italy)
A Survey of Surveys
Since the landmark show In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present at the Guggenheim Museum in 1996 and the almost simultaneous publication of the anthology Revue Noire, African Photography has attracted attention from the international public. In the 15 years since then, some of the significant survey exhibitions have included Flash Afrique! Photography from West Africa in 2001, Snap Judgments in 2006, and A Useful Dream in 2010. There is also a proliferation of thematic group shows, such as Portraits of the Self (Ulm, 2010), Afropolis (Koln, 2010), Figures and Fictions (London, 2011), to name but a few. The initiative of these projects has been mainly the work of Western institutions and curators from the Diaspora. It is interesting to note how the Bamako Encounters Biennial of African Photography, for a long time the only photographic event of significance organised in Africa, has recently been joined by other events, such as Lagos Photo, the Addis Ababa Photo Festival and the Abidjan Festival of Photography, whose curatorship and organisation are local. The paper will offer an overview of Contemporary African Photography as it has been constructed by the major survey exhibitions. It will also outline the styles and themes of the younger generation of African photographers emerging from the most recent African photographic events.
Federica Angelucci, born in Italy, with a Political Science degree from Unversitá Cattolica, Milan, is director and photography curator at Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town. She has previously worked for the photo agency Magnum Photos in Paris, and Peliti Associati, a photo publishing house in Rome. Among her latest projects is the exhibition ‘After A’ within the frame of Atri Reportage Festival, 2010 edition; she is currently studying for a Masters Degree in Visual History at the university of Western Cape.
Kenneth Montague (Canada)
The Wedge Collection
As a Canadian of Jamaican descent, my interest in art necessarily focuses on history, memory, migration and identity. Wedge began as a commercial gallery in my home, and evolved into Wedge Curatorial Projects: a non-profit arts organization with a mandate to explore global black culture through photography and other media. The Wedge Collection is the heart of this evolving project. I will provide a brief history of my art project via slide show. This will include early exhibitions in my home, various curatorial projects such as artist workshops and music compilations, and images of key works in my collection. The final part of the presentation will be focused on my most recent exhibition, Position As Desired / Exploring African Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection which has been installed as an intervention in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
A graduate of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Kenneth Montague is a full-time dentist, as well as an art collector and curator. He is also the founder of Wedge Curatorial Projects, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting contemporary art that investigates Black identity. And is also the owner of the Wedge Collection, which primarily includes historic and contemporary photography, but has recently grown to encompass video work, painting and design.