Where Art Thou? Distance and Visibility in Contemporary Art Practice in Africa and the Diaspora

Art in its many incarnations is a cultural ‘product’, whether hung on the walls of a museum, a private home or left in the atelier of its maker. From the moment it takes shape in the mind of an artist, and then brought to life in his or her studio, it must then embark on a journey if it is to find an audience. The challenges encountered are many, but like any product the distance and visibility from the market (audience) are two critical factors that will inevitably determine its fate.

© Dan Halter. Rifugiato Mappa del Mondo 3, 2012[1]. Courtesy of Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town.

 

In the context of art, art fairs have become one of the de facto marketplaces, where certainly art can be viewed but in large part exist as venues for commerce. Not every artist chooses or even has the choice to participate, as the format dictates a middleman, typically a commercial gallery who pays the fees to rent the storefront which in this case is a booth and makes the necessary efforts to procure a sale.

Notwithstanding that the landscape of contemporary art production on the continent continues to grow, particularly over the past two decades, the art market however is still in its nascency. With only one successful art fair based in Johannesburg, the FNB Joburg Art Fair, now into its sixth year, the key marketplaces remain international fairs held in London, Basel, New York, Miami and Hong Kong.

Entry into these fairs is by no means an easy stretch. Though some international commercial galleries appear seemingly without fail at each Frieze, Art Basel, The Armory,  FIAC all galleries are scrutinized annually.  In review are their programs, the artists and works they have successfully placed in museums, private collections and biennales as well as subsequent publications and whether or not they are the mother gallery for a given artist.  Beyond the sizable investment required, the ilk of artist determines who will reach the enviable seat at the table.

 

Do you see a distinction in the standpoint and needs of artists based within the African continent and those in the diaspora?

 

In this final edition of Another Africa’s three part In Focus series on the contemporary art fair format in terms of art and commerce, we look at the role of location with respect to the market. Whilst location may not inherently be a part of an artists’ practice, it does however affect their negotiation of both audience and market.

We asked artists and art practitioners thematically and or aesthetically engaging with Africa if they see a distinction and standpoint on the needs of artists based within the African continent and those in the diaspora.

 

 


 

 

Kisito Assangni | artist . curator

 

Whether living in Africa or in the diaspora, each artist chooses the cultural context in which to create. There is no major distinction in the standpoint as all artists convey an interest in aesthetic issues and formal concerns. Africa-based artists obviously need more “light” on their work. There is in Africa a lack of access to cultural infrastructure, such as contemporary art museums, galleries, art fairs. After all, African artists yearn for adequate exposure and appreciation on the international art scene.


 

Kisito Assangni is a Togolese-French curator, producer and visual artist who studied photography, art history and museology. Currently living between London, Paris and Lomé, his practice primarily focuses on psycho-geography

and post-globalisation impact on contemporary african cultures. His projects have been shown internationally, including the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Arnot Art Museum, New York; Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, USA; Musée des Arts Derniers, Paris; Malmo Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow; Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland; Motorenhalle Centre for Contemporary Art, Dresden, Germany; Stiftelsen 3.14, Bergen, Norway among others. Assangni was also member of jury of the Award LETTERS FROM THE SKY in Cape Town (South Africa) as well as the 28th Prix VIDEOFORMES in Clermont-Ferrand (France).

timeisloveshow.org
sfip-project.blogspot.com
kisitoassangni.com

 


 

 

Godfried Donkor | artist

 

Artists working today face similar challenges, whether they are based within the continent or in the diaspora. Sometimes, depending on where they are on the continent they may have a perspective that is focussed more on their particular setting whilst artists working in the diaspora have another focal point. All contemporary artists need a platform to present ideas and works… to that extent those working in Africa or outside face the same situation.

 

Godfried Donkor is a Ghanaian artist living and working in London. He is known primarily for his work in collage. He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, both in the United States and in Europe and at the 2001 Venice Biennale and is in collections, such as the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution

donkor.net

 


 

 

Christine Eyene | art historian . critic . curator

 

Yes and no. I work both in the diaspora (London/Paris) and in various parts of the African continent and as I mentioned in a short essay called “Shifting Parallelism” [1], my experience as an African based in Europe is that access to art venues remains quite challenging both for African and Afro-Caribbean art professionals: artists and curators alike.

When we practice outside the continent, most of the time, we are perceived through the prism of our ethnic or cultural background. So my exhibitions will be seen as “African” art exhibitions and the artists featured called “African” artists whether or not they hold a European passport. Skin colour is still a parameter that filters (consciously or not) the perception and interpretation of what we do.

Whereas when I curate exhibitions on the continent, we talk about contemporary art; there is a clear understanding that artists need to get access to exhibition spaces; we are not faced with the same form of invisibility. I know that there has been a debate about some Western-based curators producing mega African art shows with a large number of artists from the diaspora. But I think it is a false debate. First of all, the current state of the “African art scene”, if I may call it so, shows that there are a variety of curatorial practices. We have a number of active and influential curators on the continent, and some of us have shown genuine

commitment to the art scene back home and abroad. In my view the outcomes are shows, commissions, residencies, etc… that give fair opportunities to talented and promising artists both from Africa and the diaspora.


 

Christine Eyene (b. Paris, 1970) After earning a D.E.A. in History of Art at University Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne in 1999 with Philippe Dagen, she was selected for the Programme Young Cultural Professionals of AFAA (Culturesfrance) to train with French curator Nadine Descendre at the French Institute of Rabat, Morocco. There she worked on exhibitions of artists Christian Boltanski, Alain Fleischer, Mona Hatoum, Shirin Neshat and designer Pierre Paulin. In 2002, Eyene moved to London and worked at the Africa Centre alongside South African critic and curator Mario Pissarra. In 2004-05, she developed a number of events for Africa 05. From August 2008 to May 2010, she was consultant for puma.creative, an initiative of PUMA. Within this remit, she co-developed Creative Africa Network and initiated the partnership between puma.creative and the 8th Bamako Encounters (2009). An art critic, she is a regular contributor to French journal «Africultures». She has written articles for «Third Text», «Art South Africa», and essays in books and exhibition catalogues. She sits on a number of panels including the jury of the Fondation Jean-Paul Blachère Prize awarded at the Dak’Art Biennale and Bamako Encounters.

eyeoneart.blogspot.com

 

[1] Christine Eyene, Shifting Parallelism, http://eyonart.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/shifting-parallelisms.html. (December, 2012).

 


 

 

Yo-Yo Gonthier | artist

 

For me there is no distinction in the sense that as artists, we all need movement and perspective to be able to reflect, to take distance from our work, our environment, etc. Naturally the environment that you are in, does affect the pace of work. The passage of time is very different between the North and the South. The Occident tries to impose a frenetic rhythm on Africa, a triptych of progress, speed and capitalism. Yet the reality is that there simply are different paces of life around this planet, and that should be respected.

I work between La Réunion island and Paris, completing my studies in the later. I had the option to study abroad, which has taken me on a path where I have gained visual acuity and reflection.
Like other artists in the diaspora, mobility to be able to travel back and forth between the continent is essential. Yet for artists based on the continent, travel is difficult trans-continentally and definitely internationally. For example many artists are not able to get visas to travel to France.

As artists, it is important to meet and exchange with other artists but mobility is an issue. I think we need to take a step back, to analyse the inaction and blockages throughout the continent, and consider both the bad and good influences that come from the West.


 

Yo-Yo Gonthier (b. 1974 Niamey, Niger) graduated with a Masters in Photography and Multimedia from Paris VIII University in 1997 and works as a freelance photographer, primarily based in Paris. The object of his work is the erasure of memory in a western world where the essential values seem to be speed, progress and technology. He seeks the sense of wonder, in a tension between attraction and repulsion, bringing his own interpretation to night-time photography and the use of light and dark/chiaroscuro. He is also interested in the remnants of France’s colonial past, investigating the friction between history and memory. He has exhibited at Trans Photographic Press, Biennale of African Photography (Bamako), Addis Foto Fest (Addis Ababa) and has been nominated for the Prix kodak de la critique, 2005.

yoyogonthier.com

 


 

 

Nicène Kossentini | artist . educator

 

Distance is an obvious distinction.  Those based on the continent live, train and work within their specific locales and environments whilst those in the diaspora do so, often in countries where academics are more developed and the workplace has a greater number of opportunities.

This simple distinction however cannot categorise these two groups of artists. I believe that the standpoint and needs of artists can converge and diverge regardless of their birthplace or their workplace.

Artists based on the continent often feel like they are at a disadvantage,  but in my opinion I think both of them despite differences have a common heritage; and this legacy that surfaces within all artistic questions is a strong link between these artists.


 

Nicène Kossentini (b. 1976 Sfax, Tunisia) is a photographer/video-maker that lives and works in Tunisia. She is a graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts in Tunisia
and Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, and has also studied at Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing, and Les Gobelins in Paris. Kossentini is currently an assistant professor of Experimental Cinema at the University of Tunis. She has exhibited frequently in Tunisia, South Africa, Mali, Switzerland and Norway. She is represented by Selma Feriani Gallery.

nicenekossentini.com

 


 

 

Mischeck Masamvu | artist

 

There is no clear distinction between artists, whether one is in the diaspora or within the continent. I strongly feel that, the contemporary terms of describing oneself in line or in contrast to how one is positioned within a particular location, often creates these inferior/superior complexes. The debate of artists repositioning themselves in relation to Africa and what could be African should go beyond personal orientation(environment).


Misheck Masamvu (b. 1980, Penhalonga, Zimbabwe) studied art with Helen Lieros at Gallery Delta in Harare

and at the Kunstacademie in Munich. Masamvu’s haunting depictions question the continent’s current trajectory by dramatically exposing psycho-social and political realities. His work has been shown internationally at Galerie Françoise Heitsch (Munich), Zimbabwe Pavilion at 54th Venice Art Biennale, Influx Contemporary Art (Lisbon), Africa Museum (Arnhem), National Gallery of Zimbabwe (Harare), Gallery Delta (Harare), Dak’Art Biennale 2006 (Dakar) and more. Misheck Masamvu is represented by Gallery Delta, Harare.

 


 

 

Aïda Muluneh | artist . curator

 

Of course there are different needs, and also differences in access between artists that are on the continent and those abroad. The first thing that I have noticed is the lack of access for artists on the continent for funding opportunities, promotion and also being able to show their work within their own countries. Which in turn has an impact on the type of work that would be created.


 

Aïda Muluneh (b.1974, Ethiopia) is an Addis Ababa based photographer and artist. Muluneh received her BA in film, radio, and television from Howard University in 2001. She has worked freelance since, also founding DESTA

(Developing and Educating Societies Through the Arts). Her work has been exhibited worldwide and a collection of her images can be found in permanent collections in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States. She is the 2007 recipient of the European Union prize at the Biennale of African Photography (Bamako), as well as the 2010 winner of the CRAF International award of photography in Spilimbergo, Italy. She is the director of the Modern Art Museum/GebreKristos Center/Addis Ababa University, as well as the director and founder of the Addis Foto Fest.

Addis Foto Fest on facebook

 


 

 

Victor Muteleksha | artist

 

It is very important to note that most, if not all artists, with an attachment to the continent yet have spent most of their time in the diaspora have a “mobile base.” They will identify themselves for example as a British or Nigerian artist based on circumstances they might find advantageous to them at that moment. This is also true with some artists of European origin e.g. for their Venice Biennial debut in 2009, the Union of Comoros participated with a project, ‘Djahazi’, by the Italian artist Paolo W. Tamburella.

There are few but quite significant differences in the standpoint and needs of artists in the diaspora and those permanently on the continent. Artists of African origin living and working in the West constantly grapple with identity issues especially when it comes to publications related to their work and this is exacerbated by mostly Western curators and critics who somehow are so lazy to make a critique about work created by an artist of African origin based solely on its quality and content, they will more often than not concoct something based on dominating Western media narratives about Africa; simplistically and almost automatically pigeonholing artists to prejudices about Africa. Consequently, artists in the diaspora are almost always explaining themselves and their work debunking those simplistic connections. Not that it is bad to have your work associated to Africa and what others might think it represents, but artists want to make that connection only when necessary (on merit) and not making it an analysis or

connection based on what his name sounds like or how he looks. Institutional legitimacy or acceptability for artists of African origin living and working in the West usually comes at a higher cost; you almost have to trade in all that you really are and the power to define yourself and your work to be part of some national collection. Rarely do Western museums and other established collectors buy from these artists as they would from ‘locals’ with whom they operate on the same or even higher level.


 

Victor Mutelekesha (b. 1976 Chililabombwe, Zambia) is an independent artist based in Norway. He is a graduated of Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce, Lusaka and National Arts Academy, Oslo holding an MA Fine Arts from the later. His work is informed by the hybrid nature of his educational background and moreover by a deep interest in the universal human condition. His work has been exhibited at the International Culture Centre and Museum (Oslo), Gallery Palazzo Tito (Venice), the Henry Tayaly Art Centre (Lusaka), the 10th Havana Biennial (Havana), Gallery Fisk (Bergen), Videoholica Video Art Biennial (Bulgaria), Gallery Kit (Norway), Dak’Art Biennial (Dakar).

mutelekesha.blogspot.com

 


 

 

Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, PhD | curator . editor

 

Yes and No… I must start by saying it depends on the generation, time and physical distance of what you term the diaspora. I think the realities of the artists on the continent are quite different than the realities of the artists and art workers in the diaspora… alone due to the fact of proximity. If I may take myself as a reference, although completely interested in the arts as well as in the socio-political and economic situation on the continent, I cannot claim to be in the same frame as someone on the continent because I am based in Germany. There is a kind of reality delay decallage [gap] between the continent and the diaspora… which is reflected in so many ways, e.g. artists in the diaspora sometimes tend to romanticise the reality on continent or tend to push on to a hyperbole, due to this gap.

The diaspora is not a homogenous body that can be compared to artists on the continent that are also not a homogenous body. So that makes the question already quite a complicated one. The way an African American or Afro Brazilian artist, who considers him/herself as an African diaspora artist, or the way an artist who was born of African parents in the West (the so called 1st generation), or the way an artist who was

born on the continent and migrated to the West sees the world might be completely different, as they all have different geographical and socio-economic standpoints. These factors form the prism through which artists might see things and might influence their needs.

On the other hand, I am also convinced of the fact that (most especially in this Internet age but also before) artists all around the world have the same needs, which is molded by the so-called “Schaffensdrang” [creative need/impetus]. Every other thing that comes after that is just a nuance or a dialect of the same language called art.


 

Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, PhD, is the initiator and editor-in-chief of the journal SAVVY | art . contemporary . african. He is also the founder and art director of the art space SAVVY Contemporary Berlin. He has been the curator of several international exhibitions and has published numerous catalogues. He studied and earned a PhD in medical biotechnology (Technische Universität Berlin).


savvy-journal.com
savvy-contemporary.com

 


 

 

Jimmy Ogonga | artist . writer

 

I think the standpoint and needs of artists, whether within the continent or the diasporas differs based on their individual choices, the nature and manner in which they interpret their specific contexts and personal desires.


 

Jimmy Ogonga (b. Nairobi, Kenya) is a self- taught artist who began by drawing portraits; these images were often of political figures, the people whose stories and activities he was exposed to whilst growing up in East Africa. He has traveled to many countries, exhibiting in African and

European art galleries. He considers his mission to be the project of recreating African heroes through art. Ogonga started his sculptural works in the 1990s, and ten years later many of the collectors of his work have been drawn to his curved-wood and welded-metallic images. He founded the Nairobi Arts Trust in 2001.

jimmyogonga.com
nairobi-arts.org

 


 

 

Olu Oguibe | artist . author . curator . educator

 

Broadly speaking, all artists have the same two basic needs irrespective of who they are or where they practice. They need resources, and that includes not just materials but community, also, and they need patronage. The specifics of these needs would, of course, vary from one individual to another depending on the exact nature of their practice, where they’re located, and what infrastructure for support and patronage exists or is available to them. The needs of an artist who works strictly on canvas are quite different from those of an installation or performance artist, or an urban street artist tagging buildings and walls.

So, I would like to look at the question in terms of challenges rather than needs, but then, again, the continent is a vast place, and I hate to think of it as a uniform, monolithic space. The challenges that an artist might face in a city like Johannesburg with its ecosystem of galleries, museums, university departments, art patrons and prizes, as well as popular and academic critical presence, are understandably different from what one might find in other places where such infrastructures may be rudimentary or not quite as efficiently integrated.

Artists who live and practice outside the continent face their own unique set of challenges, and this is often lost on people on the continent who may think that living abroad is living in Paradise

A good portion of my book, The Culture Game, is devoted to looking at some of these challenges. Often these artists have to contend with highly competitive environments where even locals have considerable difficulty finding a footing. Those of them who arrive fully made, as it were, without having studied studio practice in the West, find that the environment is often less receptive to their language, by which I mean the peculiar style and sometimes thematic leaning of their work. It is no coincidence that the most successful African artists abroad are those who received all or a major part of their training in the countries where they practice. That’s because that immersive exposure enables them to tune into a certain frequency or currency that is often beyond the grasp of complete outsiders. Ultimately, you find that artists who arrive from the continent as full but as yet “undiscovered” professionals are often quickly relegated to the fringes, and seldom make it into the mainstream ever. This is something that hardly anyone picks up on.

For those who have the critical advantage of growing up or studying in the West, there are unique challenges still, but one must say that a great deal has changed over the past seventeen years or so, especially since some of us began to raise issues with conventions of mainstream access.

 


 

There’s a long way to go still, but it is no longer inconceivable for these artists to appear in museum shows or get on the stables of high end or even blue chip galleries. The vast majority are still struggling, but anyone who’s followed developments over the past twenty years or more would notice that things are, at the very least, back where they were in the early sixties when African artists could expect solo museum shows in the West. That may not sound like progress, but it is in many ways.

Obviously, patronage is a critical issue, and, interestingly enough, the vast majority of African artists practicing in the West have far less access to any form of viable or sustainable patronage or support structure than do those who live and practice on the continent. I should know because I had a fairly successful practice on the continent quite early in my career before moving abroad, and I’m familiar with the difficulties that artists outside the continent face regarding support and patronage.

In many parts of the US, for instance, talented local artists are able to survive thanks to state and local foundation grants and other support programs. Often, these grants are exclusive to citizens. In many instances, artists have to be part of certain communities or social networks in order to access such support or even learn about their availability or existence. So, you need to be logged into the right networks, and many African artists who live and practice abroad are not.

Without the support, it’s doubly difficult for them to maintain their practice at levels that are competitive enough or sufficiently compelling to draw attention or gain critical visibility. Without such visibility or notice, they stand no chance of being picked up by galleries or having their works placed in important shows. No gallery or dealer representation means no major sales or acquisitions, almost certainly no museum acquisitions, no mainstream reviews and therefore no exposure to collectors and patrons, no proper documentation, no access to art fairs or auctions, and no significant commissions. They end up permanently consigned to the outside and to perpetual invisibility, and not for lack of talent, but for lack of access to adequate support.

So, obviously, that’s an area where a new and more dedicated, more adventurous support and patronage intervention could make a significant difference, and not just for artists outside the mainstream, but also for the few who have managed to break through into the mainstream. A keen and visionary network of African patrons and supporters could make it a voluntary duty and historic responsibility to sustain such artists and levitate their work and practice, and make sure that they do not slip precipitously through the numerous cracks in the system like others did in prior eras, but instead last long enough to find their due place in art history.


 

While one does not advocate a segregated market or practice, there’s nonetheless a loose body of especially young but economically empowered “Afropolitans” if you like, who are out there now and could be enlisted to make a cultural investment in these artists and their practice as a way to not only identify with a community, but also build and sustain a vibrant cultural presence outside the continent. Already, galleries are tapping into this group, but not always in a pattern that promotes a sense of vision. What would be interesting to see is more Africans entrepreneurs entering the market and building networks that could eventually evolve into what I referred to earlier as an ecosystem. Such an ecosystem needs not exist or operate parallel to the mainstream, quite the contrary: it should invade and redefine the mainstream.

Now, if I may, I would like to return rather briefly to the question of the needs of artists who live and practice on the continent. While it is difficult to address the individual needs of artists with any exactitude, it safe, nonetheless, to mention the dire absence of competent critical mechanisms in most parts of the continent, including basic popular criticism in the news media. This is an issue that I addressed back in 1996, which is that a fairly rigorous culture of criticism is essential for any community of practitioners to push against in order to inject constant dynamism into practice. So far, not much has changed since then. Over the past decade, an increasing number of emerging practitioners have come abroad to receive training in curatorial practice, and then, return to the continent to initiate shifts and changes.

It may not be a terrible idea to conceive of like programs that identify talented practicing journalists with good keen interest in the arts, who could be offered training fellowships abroad to acquire proper skills for critical art writing that they could take back to their communities.

Currently, there are two forms of intervention regarding the needs of artists on the continent that I think might portend problems. One is continuing the old practice of sending canvas and oil tubes or even crayons and brown paper. While this may address the needs of some artists, my experience is that it also stultifies artists’ creativity and resourcefulness, and gets in the way of their abilities to develop innovative tools for their practice. The second, which is more recent, is organising exclusive prizes for artists who live and practice on the continent while the prizes are juried in Europe. While such prizes obviously create incentives to encourage artists, some of them also run the risk of establishing trends that entire communities of artists may come to regard as preferable or likelier to meet international tastes and expectations. The results could unsavory.


 

Olu Oguibe is Professor of art and African American studies at University of Connecticut, and a practicing artist and occasional curator.

camwood.org

 


 

Michael Tsegaye | artist

 

Yes, generally speaking, there is a difference in the interests and perspectives of diaspora artists from those on the continent, but it is dangerous to generalise too much about this.

Basically, most artists need money to do their work, and this need does not change, regardless of location. However, diaspora artists generally tend to have greater access to resources than those on the continent, and are typically more skillful in marketing themselves, because they are closer to the market than those in Africa, generally speaking.


 

Michael Tsegaye (b. 1975, Ethiopia) lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated from Addis Ababa

University’s School of Fine Arts and Design with a diploma in painting in 2002. Tsegaye subsequently found his passion and particular voice in photography. He has exhibited around the world, at the Biennale of African Photography (Bamako), Photoquai 2011, Musée du quai Branly (Paris), Aksum Rediscovered: the Reinstallation of the Obelisk, UNESCO House, Snap Judgments : New Positions in Contemporary African Photography and more. He is represented by Galerie Sanaa, Utrecht.

michaeltsegaye.com

 


 

 

Rikki Wemega-Kwawu | artist

 

All artists the world over crave for acceptance, for recognition and a critical audience for their work, and, finally, a piece of the world art market. Generally, artists on the continent, unfortunately, because of their utter lack of knowledge of how the global art world ticks, do not strive to go beyond themselves, to push the envelope or break entirely new grounds when it comes creating art. The creation of art is all about bread and butter, putting food on the table. The sole purpose for which most artists create is to make money, to make a living, not to contribute anything meaningful to the revolving wheel of art. So, if up-and-coming artists, for instance, see a senior artist’s work in high demand, without questioning the motive or philosophy behind that artist’s work, they, without hesitation, all jump on board and copy the style of that artist. Also the artist’s stature in African society and among his/her peers is often contingent on the salability of the artist’s work and how rich he/she is. Even if your work is kitschy, but you sell more than everybody else, you are esteemed highly as an important artist, without any value judgment placed on your work. It is all about sales, sales and nothing else.

Artists here (Ghana) are least interested in any intellectual discourse surrounding art. Even how their own creation relates to contemporary and old work being created in their society, and how that fits into the larger global art picture is of a moot point to them. If a work sells in a gallery, it is automatically assumed to be better than the one which did not sell, without any critical appraisal of the two.

The paucity of art historical knowledge among art practitioners and scholars, the lack of credible art historians and critics, the lack of art books and critical art journals, and general lack of a reading culture are mitigating factors to the healthy development of art on the continent. Lack of galleries and world-class museums worsen the already dire situation of art on the African continent. Many of the continent’s museum’s are already in a terrible state of dereliction and worthy of only being kept in museums themselves as antiquities.

The Internet should be able to bridge the intellectual divide between the West and Africa, but my interaction with my colleagues here does not reveal to me that they are taking maximum advantage of this information highway to educate themselves on what goes on globally in art. People here, as I said earlier, are simply not interested in reading to expand their horizons. They are self-contented and complacent in the small corners they find themselves.


 

Rikki Wemega-Kwawu is an internationally renowned Ghanaian painter and installation artist. He also loves to write on art, engaging in social and philosophical discourse. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, U.S.A. In 2008, he was an Adjunct Professor in Art at the New York University – Accra, Ghana Campus, where he taught Post-Colonial Studio Practices. He lives and works in Takoradi, Ghana.

 

 


 

[1] © Dan Halter. Rifugiato Mappa del Mondo 3, 2012. Map of the world loosely based on info graphics showing areas immigration and emigration statistics, constructed out of new and used plastic-mesh bags. This work was stitched together by Sibongile Chinjonjo, a Zimbabwean refugee currently living in South Africa. Courtesy of the Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town.

 

 

The In Focus | art and commerce series has been co-edited by Stephanie Baptist and Missla Libsekal.

 

 

 

 

 

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