If you take a close look at contemporary African art you can’t fail to notice the importance of video, animated and experimental films, a boom that can undoubtedly be explained by the accessibility of new technologies and the younger generation’s mastery of such techniques. We decided to pay particular attention to this production, choosing the body as an underlying theme, seeing as it is a subject that is frequently addressed by these artists.
The body provides the foundation for all this experimentation and is the point of convergence and confrontation for a wide variety of memory-based practice. It serves to determine a relationship with the world and measure the autonomy of artists confronted with social, political and cultural restrictions in complex societies where the question of personal freedoms, such as gender, sexuality and secularity, are part of the demands being expressed. Finally it is also the body that defines the artists in exile and allows them to reinvent themselves.
By seizing on the body as their subject, object or creative support, the artists tackle these issues and undertake an archaeological investigation of the here and now, whether in a more autobiographical form or an exploration of political and social issues.
From each individual viewpoint, fragments of contemporary reality (both of Africa and the rest of the world) emerge, ready to be discovered as part of our personal interaction with the videos, as we discover the artists’ talented voices and their amazing, poetical and sometimes provocative artistic acts, whose force disrupts our certainties and enchants our imagination.
Guest curator Africa Guest of Honour
Head to head, Hidden Head, Light, 2017, video, 10’ 10‘’, courtesy of the artist
Julien Creuzet was born in 1986 in Blanc Mesnil (France). He lives and works in Montreuil (France).
As is often the case in Julien Creuzet’s work, the body is both the subject and support of his thinking, which is inspired by the ideas of Edouard Glissant and memories of his Caribbean origins. In this recent video, Julien questions the breakdown in the transmission of memories as he observes that although the younger generation is open to all kinds of contemporary music, it knows nothing about the rich history of ritual music and traditional African dances. His film invites us to enter a poetic trance in which bodies undulate between rays of light and ethnographic images as if taking part in a quest, a rite of passage to find their identity.
Gariibu, 2008, video, 3’, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, Abidjan
Saïdou Dicko was born in 1979 in Déou (Burkina Faso). He lives and works in Paris.
With his camera, Saïdou Dicko follows the shadows of young beggars, revealing their games and laughter and at the same time the harsh reality of their life.
Cambeck, 2013, 2’ 42’’, courtesy of the artist and KADIST Collection
Binelde Hyrcan was born in 1983 in Luanda (Angola) and lives and works between Nice and Paris.
His film Cambeck, which was presented in 2015 in the Angola pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, evokes the current situation in Angola. It features four young boys on the beach, play-acting roles of power as they gaze at the ocean separating them from America.
Untitled, 2011, vidéo HD, 2’ 30’’ , courtesy of the artist and L’Agence à Paris
Katia Kameli was born in 1973 in Clermont-Ferrand. She lives and works in Paris.
‘Untitled’ was filmed in Algiers during the Arab Spring. It alludes to the situation of women in Arab countries and questions the very notion of revolution, in this case a silent revolution in which women march carrying sloganless placards.
There Are Worlds Out There They Never Told You About, 2016, animated film, 1’ 05’’, courtesy of the artist and Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi
Jackie Karuti was born in 1987 in Nairobi (Kenya), where she lives and works today.
In this short and poetical animated film, Jackie Karuti invites us on a journey towards imaginary worlds amongst the stars and oceans that echo the myth of an undersea civilisation descended from slaves thrown overboard during the crossing from Africa to America.
I Can’t Wait To See You – Johannesburg, video, 2014, 2’ 47’’, courtesy of the artist and Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi
Through this series of video performances filmed in different towns, Jackie Karuti raises the issue of private spaces of autonomy in urban environments whose rigid and restrictive structures still bow down under the weight of tradition. Helmets - usually seen as being for protective purposes - are used here to symbolise silence and isolation.
Ke Sale Teng, 2017, animated film, 3’22’’, courtesy of the artist and AFRONOVA GALLERY, Johannesburg
Lebohang Kganye was born in 1990 in Katlehong (South Africa). She lives and works in Johannesburg.
Lebohang Kganye delves into her family’s photographic archives to create narratives where past and present, reality and fiction intertwine and, in so doing, she reconnects the threads of complex individual stories and collective memories and tries to deconstruct certain stereotypical and exotic images of Africa.
Utopia, 2012, video, 3’ 50’’, courtesy of the artist
Wanja Kimani was born in 1986 in Nairobi (Kenya) and today lives and works in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
Wanja Kimani’s work evolves around migration, from both a real and imaginary point of view. Her approach is illustrated in this ironic video, Utopia, in which she films herself in an imaginary interview between a government official of the fictional state of Utopia and a future citizen.
"the moment that you act as a performer, you act also as the audience of the person in front of you” (2016), video, 6’46”, courtesy of the artist and Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi.
Ato Malinda was born in 1981 in Nairobi (Kenya). She lives and works in Rotterdam (Holland).
In this piece whose title is taken from an essay written by Yota Ioannidou, Ato Malinda films students who she asks to mime everyday actions. In this way, the artist subtly highlights what is at work in the ‘play’ of social relationships in which each action is like a performance.
To Move Mountains, 2016, video HD, 10’ 02’’, courtesy of the artist and WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery, Cape Town / Johannesburg
Born in 1986 in Soweto (South Africa), Mohau Modisakeng lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Using his body to create powerfully visual works, Mohau Modisakeng delves into his memories to probe the effects of actual, physical violence and symbolic violence on the black body, as well as and the impact of South Africa’s history on the collective unconscious in today’s postcolonial and post-apartheid society.
Rina Ralay Ranaivo
Video: MD370, 2015, video, 5’11’’, courtesy of the artist
Rina Ralay Ranaivo was born in 1984 in Madagascar, where he lives and works today.
Rina Ralay Ranaivo mixes archive images and contemporary views of his hometown Antananarivo (Madagascar). In this silent film, whose tempo is driven by a series of corporal and natural movements such as clouds scudding across the sky or gusts of wind, the artist communicates the hopes and uncertainties of a young generation who are responsible for an individual and collective process of reconstruction.
J’accuse, 2011, video, 1’, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Paris
Moussa Sarr was born in 1984 in Corsica. He lives and works in Paris.
Video performance artist Moussa Sarr asserts his multiple roots (Corsican, French and Senegalese) and films himself in caustic videos using derision to tackle sensitive questions on stereotypes, as well as racial, social and sexual prejudice. Amongst his favourite subjects are the struggles for power between individuals and the eternal fight between the weak and the strong.
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