Africa is known for being painted with the broadest of brush strokes. From tales of the ‘Dark Continent’ to ‘Africa Rising’, for better or for worse the world’s fascination with Africa continues. Over the past ten years, a new wave of young African artists have explicitly sought to challenge racist representations and construct new narratives for the continent and its people. From different perspectives this generation of artists convey a similar message: an active Africa filled with possibilities and potentials.
From October 7-28 Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda will present In the Days of A Dark Safari, a solo exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town. Using photography, film, and performance, Kia Henda explores the subject of the past and futures, unravelling ideas of postcolonialism and modernism in Africa. The exhibition depicts Africa and Europe in the 19th and 21st centuries, criticising ideas of the continent that set nature against culture, civilization against barbarity and darkness against paradise. Through this, Henda suggests alternative narratives about the continent.
Around the corner from the Goodman Gallery lies another attempt to subvert tired stereotypes of Africa and Africans: the newly opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). Located inside a grain silo built on one of the world’s most recognizable coastal spots – Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront – the building is home to Africa’s largest contemporary art museum. It is comprised of about 100 galleries spread over nine floors, a rooftop sculpture garden, a restaurant and reading rooms for educational purposes. The team behind Zeitz MOCAA has expressed an agenda of creating Africa’s first major museum committed to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.
Artists such as Kia Henda, and institutions such as Zeitz MOCAA, contribute to presenting Africa as a region of limitless creativity and capable of producing ‘high art’, for external observers and Africans alike. This is internationally recognised: earlier this year Henda became the first African artist to receive the Frieze Artist Award, and Zeitz MOCAA has been dubbed ‘Africa’s Tate Modern’. But whose interests are these narratives of Africa nourishing? Read more