Spot on Dak'Art III
Apropro Friday. Friday saw the a podium discussion about the (Re)Presentation of Contemporary African Arts in
In the above mentioned study Mutumba suggests a few possible approaches to improve the situation. While I cannot provide a comprehensive overview of her suggestions, I will highlight some points that inspired heated debates between other members of the panel and the audience. However, let me just briefly introduce the other two members of the discussion: On the one hand, there was Dr. Britta Schmitz who is heading the
The latter was willing to acknowledge that contemporary African arts have the potential to challenge negative stereotypes about the continent and, hence, politics has a certain responsibility to encourage generally more receptive conditions in and beyond the art world. Here, mention might be made of federally funded residency programmes in which African artists are significantly underrepresented or the establishment of some kind of contact bureau for contemporary non-Western arts. In contrast, Dr. Britta Schmitz emphasised the responsibility of local African art circuits to promote talented artist up to the world stage. It was not the responsibility of institutions such as the Hamburger Bahnhof or the National Gallery to pick up new talents right from (African) universities, instead local initiatives by artists, cultural associations and galleries should at last acknowledge their responsibility for the promotion of local artists. This position attracted severe criticism from many in the audience. While she is probably right that institutions such as hers cannot make up for a lack of initiative on the local grass roots level, I believe they could easily play an important role in the promotion of locally and internationally already established African artists as well as Afro-German artists within the German art scene. The by her asserted lack of appropriate magazines for the promotion of contemporary African artists can only be interpreted as her failure to research the issue. Or are magazines such as African Arts, Afrique Noir or Nka and internet platforms such as Universes in Universe really that obscure? Are well-connected
Members of the public such as Prof. Kasse, the Berlin based gallery owner Peter Hermann as well as Gerhard Haupt, editor of the Universes in Universe internet portal suggested further constraints to the promotion of contemporary African arts in Germany. Here, I will only recall, Hermann’s reminder that galleries dealing with Africa-based artists face particular (and, compared to those specialising in Western arts, increased) problems (communication with the artists, transport of artists and art works to exhibitions in Germany) as well as Haupt’s complaint about a lack of funding for initiatives and networks promoting African arts and cultures.
So, yes, we left the discussion pretty much disillusioned after the Spot On exhibition series at the IFA gallery had originally suggested that the climate had changed in favour of contemporary African arts in
P.S. I didn't know the magazine before but here is the online version of Bidoun Magazine, the magazine Dr. Schmitz referred to as an appropriate vehicle for the promotion of Middle Eastern arts, a comparable paper, according to her, is missing for contemporary African arts. Have a look yourself ...