POST AFRICAN FUTURES EXHIBITION
An Exhibition Curated in extension of my PhD Research, produced with the Goodman Gallery .
Held: 21 May – 20 June 2014
CUSS Group (SA) // NTU (SA) // Tabita Rezaire (SA) // Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (SA) // Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi (SA) // Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria) // Haythem Zakaria (Tunisia) // Jean Katambayi Mukendi (DRC) // Sam Hopkins (Kenya) // Muchiri Njenga (Kenya) // Jepchumba (Kenya) // Brooklyn J Pakathi (SA) // Wanuri Kahui (Kenya) // Dineo Sheshe Bopape (SA) // Kapwani Kiwanga (FR) // The Brother Moves On (SA) // Just A Band (Kenya) // Lebogang Rasethaba & Nthato Mokgata (SA) // iMagineering Lagos Collective (Nigeria) // Smiso Zwane (OkMalumKoolKat, SA).
Related Project & Exhibition Website: “Future Lab Africa”
Future Lab Africa is an interactive space that engages cultures of technology through critical aesthetic explorations in Africa.
Future Lab Africa came about as the Post African Futures contribution of digital artist Jepchumba, from which the project has evolved as a research collaboration with Tegan Bristow. Future Lab Africa hopes to create lasting networks and public engagements which extend beyond the exhibition incorporating research and multi disciplinary methodologies as a basis of understanding new developments in the African digital art space. This includes the produciton of a series of podcasts dealing with the following themes:
• Emerging African Disruptive Internet Communities and Digital Spaces.
• Disseminating Identity Politics in Creative Practice.
• The Complexity of Contemporary African Art and Music.
• The Art of Collaboration & Process
Post African Futures will be the first project to be hosted by Future Lab Africa and acts as the central interactive location for the following:
• Podcast series produced by Jepchumba in conversation with the featured artists, released over the period of the exhibition.
• More information about the featured artists & artworks.
• Schedule of exhibition and performance events.
About the Post African Futures Exhibition:
This research began as a survey of work focusing on South Africa, Kenya and small amounts in Nigeria. In this survey I found a rich and complex reference to technology that serves a number of critical positions. Here artists are using the conceptual frame of digital technologies and technology languages as a way to talk about African cultures against what they are perceived to be. This activity is multi-faceted and acts as a critique of both globalised media practices and romanticised Africanisms. These practices are entrenched in the socio-cultural; global image generation; traditional practices; and performance.
Digital Art as a medium-specific engagement in this frame addresses the digital as an imagined metaphysical and metaphorical conduit. Through the scope of the digital medium, artists represent the unseen and the magical, both as representation of cultural practices that cannot be adequately portrayed through image or film; and as a critique of Western systems of knowledge. This frames a critique of globalised forms and a resistance against a cultural predomination. It is important to understand that this practice is undeniably not a romantic indigenisation of technology or cute innovations for the irrevocably poor. It is rather a type of border thinking, a live conversation with the world that brings contemporary culture together with socio-cultural knowledge systems.
The title Post African Futures challenges a number of notions. The first being “Afro Futurism” as a container for any African work that addresses technology or science fiction subject matter. Many African artists have been lumped into this criterion, yet they present articulations that are unique to particular cultural perspectives and not a globalized Africanism.
The exhibition is an exploration of multiple “African cultures of technology” that have unique socio-political and economic histories. For instance, technology in South Africa is historically tied to apartheid, a possessive aggressive system of control where communications technology is still a power driven medium. South African artists reflect this — works are visually aggressive and challenge relationships to power, reflecting a lo-fi abrasiveness, an exploration of extremes and failures making for rich visual and aural work. While Kenyan histories are tied to social rebellion and change, here works strongly interrogate social justice, using networks and social narrative as primary conduits.