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African Art: Spotlight on Biennials, Part 3

Publié dans Art Market  |  février 14, 2015

African Art: Spotlight on Biennials, Part 3
Almost every year since 2003, a new biennial appears on the African continent reflecting the vitality and creativity of contemporary artists. Each biennial is indispensable as a way of replenishing the visual outlook on the culture of the continent. Through artistic residences, workshops, debates, and conferences, each biennial participates in the promotion of African art worldwide. Following the series started in Part 1 and Part 2, we’ll focus on the last African biennials created recently.

Biennale Regard Benin (2012)

Biennale Regard Benin reborn from the ashes of Regard Benin, a collaborative artistic event held in 2010. The first edition of the biennial held in 2012 was based on the proximity of the artists with the public. It explored unusual public places in several cities by inviting nearly forty artists around the theme “Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen”, suggesting that artists have a civil responsibility. For instance, one studio was turned into a site for exhibitions and genuine acts of agitation. However, this edition was a public manifestation of the inner disputes and manipulations underlying a biennial. In fact, two different platforms were born from a schism over the question of whether the event should have a central curator. Thus, the event was split in two different biennials sharing the same theme: Benin Biennale and Regard Benin.

AFiRIperFOMA Biennial (2013)

AFiRIperFOMA is the first African biennial around contemporary performance art, created in Lagos, Nigeria. The first edition was held in Harare, Zimbabwe under the title “Mnemonic”, a word that designates a device use in aiding memorization of ideas and materials, essentially to improve human memory. The inspiration behind this theme is derived from the allegory of the powerful multi-dimensionality of the past and present history of Africa. The curator’s intent was to unwrap new perspectives of investigation, transmission, and perception of Africa. Over fifty local and foreign artists participated in the event by dealing with profound issues of identity, the power of objects, as well as spiritual and cultural transmigration in Africa. There will be a second edition later this year in Lagos.

Kampala Art Biennale (2014)

Kampala Art Biennale is a fresh initiative to help both local and foreign artists working on the African continent to reach the global art scene. Held in Kampala, Uganda, it aims to educate and create debates about contemporary art and its value in society. It was established to recognize, and integrate African contemporary art that is being created on the peripherals of mainstream information avenues, and to provide exposure of African art to locals and the global art audience. This year, the biennial held discussions around the theme “Progressive Africa” with writers and visual artists presenting their social, political or economic perception of Africa today. It showcased more than 100 artworks produced by nearly fifty artists from different African countries.

Yango Biennale (2014)

Yango Biennale is currently the last African biennial of contemporary art, inaugurated last year in Kinshasa. The first edition entitled “Go Forward” questioned the relationship between art and urban space in Congo-Kinshasa, especially the attitude of worldwide artists using their creativity to reflect on the reality of the continent. With almost forty artists from around the world, half of which are Congolese, the event finally did justice to a burgeoning art scene. Without galleries or museums to showcase their art, local artists are often better known abroad than at home. Six exhibitions venues in Kinshasa paid tribute to the Congolese visual art and gave a different image of the city, frequently associated with war, misery, and poverty.


Sources: Biennial Foundation presents an interactive map of different biennials all over the world with a summary for each event.