From 25 November till 5 December 2009, Haco de Ridder (International Relations, Mondriaan Foundation) will visit Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Dakar (Senegal) and Bamako (Mali) to do research for two Orientation Trips to be organised in 2010.
Visual Arts Trip 2010
During March 2010 participants of the 7th Orientation trip, organised by the Mondriaan Foundation and the Prince Claus Fund, will visit Istanbul (Turkey), Lagos (Nigeria) and Bamako (Mali). The trip will focus on the Visual Arts.
Design Trip 2010
During May 2010 participants of the 1st Orientation trip, organised by the Mondriaan Foundation and the Premsela Foundation, will visit South-Africa, Dakar (Senegal) and and Bamako (Mali). The trip will focus on Design. Dakar and Bamako will be visited by Haco de Ridder and Tim Vermeulen (Premsela Foundation) together.
25.11 – 27.11: Lagos
27.11 – 29.11: Accra
29.11 – 02.12: Dakar
02.12 – 04.12: Bamako
Although communications are not always reliable, Haco de Ridder will try to add a daily report on this blog with information on the visited cities, organisations and individuals.
I arrived in Lagos. It always feels nice to be in Africa, I like it when I get out of the plane and feel the heat fall on me, the smells and all the people. Driving to the hotel was amazing, I have never seen so much traffic and many people on the street.
When I entered the hotel I was welcomed by Bisi Silva and some of her friends. We had a drink and listened to the band.
With Bisi I looked at my program to see if we could fit in some more appointments. Tomorrow I will visit the Nimbus Art Centre, Quintessence Gallery, the artist and activist Ndidi Dike, the space of Bisi Silva’s Centre for Contemporary Art, Dapo Adeniyi from Artposition magazine and, in the evening, will attend the opening of a photography exhibition were I will meet photographers from the Black Box Collective and Depth of Field.
This morning I woke up early by guitar music.
My first visit was to the Nimbus Art Centre were I met Chike Nwagbogu. The Nimbus Art Centre started in 1991 with the aim to promote and preserve Africa’s heritage. In the last 18 years it has grown to be an important institute for artists in Nigeria and abroad. It has different exhibition spaces and a restaurant with a bar. It’s a meeting place for many artists living or coming to Lagos. Next to the visual arts it also supports theater, dance, music and drama.
Later I moved to the first floor were I met Azu Nwagbogu, director of the African Artists Foundation. The foundation provides support for professional artists through healthcare, a pension fund, a scholarship for young artist and the organization of exhibitions. In the exhibitions space works of different artists were shown.
Chike Nwagbogu was so kind to drive me in his Nim bus to my next appointment with the artists Ndidi Dike. Ndidi told me about her work and the help she’s giving by teaching and promoting younger artists.
In the afternoon I went to the Centre for Contemporary art (CCA, Lagos) and met with Bisi Silva it’s initiator and director. Bisi told about the centre and next years plans, like the organisation of a photography workshop with some well-known photographers from Nigeria and abroad.
Later I was showed the recent exhibition at CCA by it’s curators Jude Anogwih and Oyinda Fakeye. The title of the exhibition is “Identity: an imagined state”. It’s one of the first international exhibitions of video art in Nigeria. For 12 month the institute has been focusing on video art by organising workshops with the One Minute Foundation and a workshop conceived by Angolan artist Miguel Petchkovsky and co-facilited by the artist Goddy Leye. The exhibition addresses the issues around identity in relation to Africa.
Bisi Silva also has a very informative blog on Contemporary African art.
After seeing the show and talking to some of the artists participating I was joined by Dapo Adeniyi who is editor of the artmagazine Artposition. While talking about his work and his opinion on life in Nigeria we drove to th exhibition opening of the artist George Osodi at The Lagos Civic Centre.
George Osodi is a photojournalist who works mainly in the West African region. Osodi combines journalistic reporting with artistic documentary, photography and activism. He captures the corruption, exploitation, hunger, diseases, poverty and violence on the one hand and the beautiful landscape and vibrant culture of the people of his home land, the Niger-delta, through colourful digital photographs. Osodi was born and raised in the Niger-delta town of Ogwashi Uku. As a result, he has a deep concern for the welfare of the Niger-delta people. His works have been represented in the Documenta 2007.
During the opening I met different people from the Nigerian art scène like the photographer Jide Adeniyi-Jones, the young art critic and journalist Obidike Okafor and Oliver Enwonwu, the chairman of the Society for Nigerian Artists and the Ben Enwonwu Foundation.
To end the evening Bisi and Dapo showed me the best book and music store in town: Jazzhole.
My first meeting today was with the director of Mydrim Gallery, Mrs Simidele Ogunsarya.
She talked about the history of the place and it’s start in 1991. What started as a space were people could buy presents became a space were young, but still traditional artists can show their work and profit of the knowledge and network Simidele Ogunsarya has.
I met the artist Kelani Abass, who was having an opening later that day.
After a glass of water, it’s very hot at the moment, I left for Terra Kulture, a centre close to the Atlantic Ocean were they organise exhibitions on visual art, design and fashion. At the moment of my visit the institute was working on an exhibition about fashion design, using batik fabrics but adding new elements to the cloths. The institute has a nice terrace, a bar restaurant a library and bookstore. The library was full of young students looking for a quite place to concentrate and study.
A taxi brought me back to my hotel were I had a meeting with one of the CORA, Committee for Relevant Art, members mr. Toyin Akinhoso who I daily life is a publisher. Mister Akinhoso explained me about the CORA initiative and it’s plans for the future.
The Cora institute is an organisation that creates to engage the public in debate on cultural issues. It started in 1991 as a non-profit, non governmental organisation. It tries to make the arts a lively and social experience especially for younger generations. It organises the yearly Art Stampede, known as the ‘parliament of artists’. It’s an informal, discursive platform on burning issues in the arts were leading figures engage in public discussions and workshop-like sessions. Recent discussed issues have been Nigerian literature, private broadcasting and artists as arbiters in political crisis. To do this in a complex environment as Lagos is amazing.
In 2006 the initiative was awarded as Prince Claus Fund Laureautes.
Due to a Islamic Holiday I was able to get to the airport in just 30 minutes, which is a miracle in this City, to take my flight to Accra, Ghana.
Tonight I had a meeting with John Owoo.
My first meeting today was with Bernard Akoi-Jackson who works for the Nubuke Foundation. The foundation tries to record and promote Ghanaian history and culture by organising exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, workshops, a library and study centre and a lot more. It is situated in an oases like garden. Bernard Akoi-Jackson is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer. Besides his individual work he works with children on special thematic workshops. One of the artists who’s portfolio I very much liked was that of Benedict Kojo Quaye (Mr. Black) who is an artist and a poet. Mr. Black is a painter, sculptor, performer and a spoken word poet.
Exhibition piece at Nubuke Foundation
The Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana
The Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana is run by two enthusiastic young artists, Adwoa Amoah and Ato Annan. The foundation is an active network of both younger and older artists dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art within Ghana, West-Africa and Africa is a whole. It provides information for artists, curators and academics to share ideas on the future for African art. The foundation is located on the “W.E.B DuBois Centre for Pan African Culture” premises. Good information on the Ghanaian art scene can also be found on Africancolours.
A taxi driver drove me to my next stop the Eric Carpentry Shop run by Eric A. Kpakpo who makes Ghanaian Coffins. The workshop is run by about 7 workers who make the most amazing works. For more information on Coffin making.
The Artist Alliance
Close to Eric is a huge Gallery “The Artist Alliance”. The building houses an impressive collection of old, modern and contemporary art from Africa. Upstairs was an exhibition on famous Ghanaian artists living abroad, among them were some works by sculptor El Anatsui.
Tei Mensah Huagie
After a bumpy ride John Owoo took me to the studio of the amazing artist Tei Mensah Huagie who is the founder and director of Nawtei – Not a waste Recycle Studio. Tei Ghanaian and International artiste with regards to painting, sculpturing and designing. Besides his art practice he created his own Cloth Designing Label called ‘Clothoncloth Designs’ which is a self-trained business. Tei Huagie is a member of the Ghana Association of Contemporary Arts.
My last stop that day was a concert at the Alliance Francaise in Accra. Under the theme “Universal Access and Human Rights”, the West Africa AIDS Foundation in collaboration with Ghana AIDS Commission and NAP+ will present the World AIDS Day Concert 2009, featuring Ghanaian musicians such as Shasha Marley, Ayigbe Edem, Screw Face and many more. The purpose of this event is to promote public awareness and the positive stories of Ghanaians living with AIDS. The public was also offered the opportunity to “know your status” with Voluntary Counseling and Targeting (VCT) services free of charge.
Tomorrow I will visit The National Museum and the Ussherfort and leave for Dakar, Senegal.
The National Museum
The National Museum of Accra is about half an hour from my hotel. It’s really hot and the cab driver is explaining me why Ghana is going to win next years. I don’t want to tell him I don’t care much for football, it’s one of those drivers who don’t like that. The museum is quit run down. When it was opened in 1957 by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, it must have been a beautiful place, now it looks as if since then nobody has ever done anything. The building houses textiles, stools, pottery, masks and beads from all over Africa. Part of the museum is devoted to the slave history of West-Africa. Unfortunately so many people have followed the slave routes on the maps with their fingers that you can hardly see anything.
This fort was built in 1642 by the Dutch and originally named Fort Crevecoeur. The fort is situated in a very poor area of Accra and to reduce the extreme level of poverty programmes are run for the local community in the, by the European Union through UNESCO, build museum. The museum focusses on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. It has a collection of paintings and crafts that depict the slave trade.
Later that afternoon I took the plane to Dakar, Senegal were I was later 04:00 in the morning joined by Tim Vermeulen from the Premsela Foundation. Tim and I are here to do research for next years design trip. The driver brought us to our hotel were I crashed.
Tim and I had breakfast on the roof of our hotel and left for our appointment with fashion designer Oumou Sy at her space Metissacana, unfortunately Oumou Sy wasn’t their so we went for a walk true a the City. We visited the Institut Francais, who have an impressive range of activities, this and next month, as part of 50 years of independence of Senegal.
At noon we went to café de Rome were we had a meeting with the Dutch Erik Pol, from Pols Potten in Amsterdam. Erik, since many years, lives in Dakar and has a production company were they produce wooden furniture with local craftsman. Erik is a great informant and guide to go around Dakar.
Together with Erik we went to the shop of Aissa Dione, who started an interior design company called Aissa Dione Tissus and today has 100 employees creating new textiles. Aissa Dion pushes the boundaries of Senegalese textiles through crafts, design and manufacturing. Later that evening we had the change to meet her personally.
Gallery Le Manege
At the gallery of the Institut Francais we met with Delphine Calmettes who is responsible for the IF exhibitions. She gave us a lot of information on the design and fashion scene in Dakar. One project that interested us in particular was the exhibition prêt-à-partager. The prêt-à-partager exhibition is a transnational artistic dialogue on fashion, sport, Africa and its Diaspora.
The artworks presented in the exhibition originated in the prêt-à-partager workshop in Dakar in November 2008. The exhibition which was curated by Elke aus dem Moore and Sandrine Micosse will go on a two-year tour of different countries in West, East and South Africa.
Now showing at the gallery is the artist Amadou Sow.
To have an idea of live in Africa you have to visit a market.
Ndiaga Diaw and Cheikha
Today we visited two young fashion designers based in Dakar, Ndiaga Diaw and Cheikha.
Both participated in the exhibition prêt-à-partager.
Ndiaga Diaw and Cheikha are fashion designers who give fashion in Senegal a new look.
A taxi takes us to Mauro Petroni, an Italian who has been living in Dakar for almost 20 years now.
Mauro has a ceramic workshop, Ceramiques des Almadies and the leading man behind the organisation of the Dakar biennial Off-program. He shares his worry’s about next years organisation of the Biennial and the fact that the EU will not support next years biennial. I do hope that Dakar will still be able to have a good Biennial.
Le Village d’Art
Cheikha advices us to visit the “le Village d’Art”, a small artist village situated in complete tranquillity. The complex was originally built for Chinese workers who were building a bridge. We visit some studios and even talk with an artist who visited the Rijksakademie for a talk he gave on African art.
Ousmane M’Baye & Johanna Bramble
After breakfast Tim and I walk to the working space of the famous Senegalese designer Ousmane M’Baye. Ousmane makes furniture made of barrel and galvanise iron. Unfortunately he has left for France but our next meeting is with his good friend Johanna Bramble, a textile designer and creator of hand-made fabrics. After a look on the terrace from were we have a great view of our hotel, we return for our meeting with Koyo.
Koyo Kouoh invited us at her house for lunch. At Koyo house we have a very nice ending of our stay in Dakar meeting some very nice people: her son and daughter, the American writer and professor at Indiana university Eileen Julien and the architect Jean Charles Tall. Our lunch is an a beautiful presented fish called ‘Capitain’.
Eileen Julien recently published a book about her childhood in New Orleans called “Travels with Mae – scenes from a New Orleans girlhood”. Koyo tells us about her plans to start a contemporary art space in Dakar, she’s currently talking with different foundations to explore the possibilities. It sounds like a very interesting plan and I think it would be good for Dakar if a place like this could be realised.
Jean Charles brings us to the airport to take our plane to Bamako, Mali.
From all over Dakar you see this enormous sculpture called “Renaissance”. It is made for the 50 years of independence.
After arriving in Bamako and checking in at our hotel Tim and I have a drink at the BLABLA.
Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers Multimedia
Our first appointment is with Abdoulaye Konate, director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers Multimedia and artist, who participated in many shows such as Africa Remix. Abdoulaye Konate takes us for a walk true this amazing and professional building.
The school houses about 50 students and has teachers from different parts of the world.
Lessons are given in: music, dans, theatre, visual arts, multimedia and arts management.
Mister Konate is so kind to drive us to the National Museum of Mali.
National Museum of Mali
The National Museum of Mali is a vibrant cultural institution, playing a major role in the prevention of cultural looting and trafficking in the region, it educates local communities, and preserves and interprets local aesthetic heritage.
As it’s director mister Samuel Sidibee is on a trip to Europe we talk with the photographer Alioune Ba about the museum and the organisation of this years photo Biennale, Bamako Encounters.
Alioune Ba is a photographer who also the is director of the Seydou Keita Association, a photographic gallery and resource centre named after the legendary Malian photographer. Bâ ‘s work was first encountered by the west in 1994 during the Bamako arts summits.
African Photography Biennial
This year, the African Photography Biennial explores the theme of “Borders”, artificial or natural, and will be comprised of a Pan-African exhibition of recent photography and video work by established artists, from Kader Attia, Majida Khattari, Zineb Sedira and Barthelemy Toguo, to emerging talents like Mohamed Bourrouissa, Mohamed Camara, Andrew Esiebo and Baudouin Mouanda.
The international exhibition, presented at the Musee National du Mali and featuring more than 50 artists will be completed by 5 solo shows by Angèle Etoundi Essamba (Cameroon), Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco), Patrizia Guerresi Maïmouna (Italy), Baudouin Mouanda (Congo) and Fazal Sheikh (USA).
Theme exhibitions will include, among others, the participation of Michael Stevenson Gallery with Nandipha Mntambo and Pieter Hugo and the showcase of “Luxury” by British artist Martin Parr, as part of a partnership between the Bamako Encounters and the Rencontres d’Arles, the famous French photography festival.
In total, more than 100 artists, 15 venues and a host of debates, workshops, portfolio reviews, photo studios and live events that promise, once more, to make the Malian capital the highlight of African photography. Before we leave Tim and I have our picture taken by two ladies who are having a mobile photo studio in the garden.
Santoro and Aminata Traoré
Santor is a restaurant and crafts shop in Bamako owned by Aminata Traoré. Unfortunately we were not able to meet this very important lady but had a change to meet her daughter later that day.
Aminata Traoré is a sociocultural activist who emphasises the interrelationship of economics, politics and culture. With a doctorate in social psychology and psychopathology, she was a founder member of African Women for Research and Development and consultant for many development institutions. She established a cultural training centre in Mali, stimulated activities in the field of textiles and design, and was Mali’s Minister of Tourism and Culture. Preferring to work more directly in poor urban areas, she emphasises self-sufficiency, use of local skills and materials, and mobilizes communities to build infrastructure, networks and enterprises.
Critical of neo-liberal economics, bad governance and donor dependency, Aminata Traoré is the founder and co-ordinator of the Forum for Another Mali and is an associate co-ordinator in the International Network for Cultural Diversity. She is active in international debates on another globalisation based on cultural and political creativity. Having published over 50 articles and books, she is remarkable for putting ideas into practice at local and global levels.
The Prince Claus Award honoured Aminata Traoré in 2005 for her bold and visionary leadership in empowering communities to find solutions within themselves and their culture.
One of the musicians working at Santoro walks us to an other beautiful space in Bamako, hotel Djenne, run by the daughter of Aminata Traore, Awa Meite.
Awa Meite is, besides the fact that she runs her mother hotel a designer and organiser of a festival in march next year. Theme of the festival is a village were she set up a cotton production village.
Awa largely draws her inspiration from African traditions to which she gives her personal touch, with her ever-present goal of valuing locally produced materials: Tuareg leather-work, Dogon silver threads, mats from Niger made out of natural fibers, traditional african bowls from Burkina Faso, etc. But cotton from Mali- her country of origin, and the leading producer of white gold in sub-Saharan Africa- is what he cherishes most, calling it “the most precious material that is”. The defining aspect of this artist’s work, her main commitment and passion: the promotion of a positive image of Africa, her many treasures, and her place in this world.
Year after year, Awa’s work has remained focused on the path of tradition, with a conscious effort to highlight the genius of African artisans (weavers, dyers, jewellers, shoemakers), all the while uncovering the world of contemporary design.
Awa takes us for a walk true her neighbourhood and shows her an open-air weaving studio. In the evening we are invited for diner by Meite and her Dutch husband. Awa also told us about the festival she is organising next year March called Daoula in a village called Cho, about 50 km. from Bamako.
But before our dinner appointment Tim and I have a look at the France Cultural Centre with an exhibition by France photographer Alain Turpault with an exhibition on albino’s in Africa.
This morning a taxi takes us to Kandioura Coulibaly and Kletigui Dembele who live on the other site of the Niger river. Kandioura house is like a small rundown museum but has a fascinating collection of jewellery, costumes, Bogolans and many objects.
The two artists are the initiator of the group Bogolan Kasobane, who since the eighties try to experiment with graphical art on Bogolans.
Coulibaly Kandioura, Bamako
Soleil d’Afrique is an artist association dedicated to artistic and cultural exchanges that are destined to promote young Malian visual artists. By emphasizing the accomplishments of young Malian artists within Malian border and abroad, Soleil d’Afrique aims to better their living conditions while allowing them to concentrate on the quality of their art.
Since ten years ago, Soleil d’Afrique is devoted to the promotion of Malian art in general and young Malian artist specifically. Through the creation of a center and by offering certain tools to young artists the association has enabled many to better develop their art, has permitted them to discover and be discovered through national and international workshops, trainings, exhibitions, and conferences. This is the main objective the Center strives to continuously achieve and surpass. Soleil d’Afrique is a member of Arts Collaboratory.
Unfortunately Malick Sidibe is not at his studio when Tim and I arrive but I feel very happy that I have seen the studio of this amazing man.
Tim and I have a walk in the neighbourhood of mister Sidibe’s studio and then, later that evening, I fly back to Amsterdam, leaving Tim behind who, unfortunately has his flight 4 hours later.