The choice of title is intended to dwell provocatively on how often a forced geographical or generational specificity is used, circumscribing or even worse "ghettoizing" a particular creative scene. WE CALL IT “AFRICA” is therefore an attempt to explore the various and different "Africas", the countless cultural and aesthetic universes that inhabit this multifaceted landscape, with an emphasis on the relationship between art and contemporary society.
Dimitri Fagbohoun (Benin), Bronwyn Katz (South Africa), Marcia Kure (Nigeria) and Maurice Mbikayi (Democratic Republic of Congo) are the artists invited to illustrate, for the first time in Italy, the many influences in art of extremely current themes, focusing on socio-cultural, identity-making and geopolitical issues, particularly representative of the complex African reality.
These artists have already taken part in important international events: Dimitri Fagbohoun was among the protagonists of the collective exhibition The Divine Comedy at the MMK Museum in Frankfurt in 2014; Marcia Kure is present in prestigious public collections such as those of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the British Museum in London and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington; Maurice Mbikayi was among the finalists of the Luxembourg Art Prize 2016; while Bronwyn Katz won in 2015 the Sasol New Signatures Merit Prize (South Africa) with the video Grond Herinnering, also presented on this occasion.
The exhibition will open with the works of the Congolese Maurice Mbikayi ('74), whose artistic practice focuses on the impact of technology on the African social fabric, and on the sad reality of e-waste landfills that are literally poisoning Africa. The artist puts side by side installations made entirely from recycled technological materials and works that explore the theme of dandyism in the Congolese daily life, a widespread phenomenon which adopts, in addition to a certain eccentricity in clothing, also a specific ethical model.
To follow, are works by Marcia Kure (’70), who instead examines and projects through her own lexical modes the effects of post-colonialism, the increasingly fragmentary nature of contemporary society, fractious subjectivities, as well as post-capitalist global-local encounters. In fact, her aesthetic vocabulary derives from a multifaceted imaginary, in which contrasting forces coexist, thus generating a compelling tension - formal, linguistic and conceptual - that is ascribable to allegories of shared yet fraught histories, memories, and legacies.
The intertwining of often contrasting influences can be found also in the artistic practice of Dimitri Fagbohoun ('72), which ranges between sculpture, videos and installations, driving towards a grammatical eclecticism that highlights themes such as the memory, politics, religion and the poetic dimension of existence. In a visionary narrative that plays on the balance between visible and non-visible, the artist deals with the vulnerability of human beings, exploring the processes of creation and destruction.
The exhibition closes with the young Bronwyn Katz ('93), whose artistic research reveals a complex immersive power. At the centre of her signature style is the importance of the land as the repository but also the custodian of South Africa's cultural memory, a memory that conceals the scars of a history marked by colonialism first and now by a fierce economic neo-colonialism. The sensory aspect is dominant in the aesthetic plot of this talented artist, capable of revealing with timid urgency a universe that soon goes from being private to collective.
Dimitri Fagbohoun was born in Cotonou (Benin) in 1972, from Beninese father and Ukrainian mother. He currently lives between Paris, Brussels and Cotonou. He grew up in Cameron, before moving for good to France. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions in important international museums, such as the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden or the Kunsthalle São Paulo. He has also participated in festivals and biennials like the Biennale of Bamako (2007 and 2011), the Pan African Festival of Algiers (2009), the Dak'Art Biennale (2012 and 2016) or the Picha Biennale in Congo.
Bronwyn Katz was born in Kimberley (South Africa) in 1993 and currently lives and works in Cape Town (South Africa). In 2015 she graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town. Despite her young age, she was one of the protagonists of the Dak'Art Biennale 2016, and exhibited both in 2014 and in in 2015 at the Pretoria Art Museum. In 2015 she also won both the Simon Gershwin Prize of the University of Cape Town, and the Merit Prize at the Sasol New Signatures Competition in Pretoria.
Marcia Kure was born in Kano (Nigeria) in 1970 and currently lives and works in Princeton, NJ (USA) and Kaduna/Abuja (Nigeria). In 1994 she graduated in Painting from the University of Nigeria. Her most prestigious attendances include the Dak'Art Biennale in 2014, the Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo in 2012, the 7th Sharjah Biennale in 2005. She has also exhibited in major international museums such as the WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Lunds Konstalle in Sweden and FRAC Lorraine.
Maurice Mbikayi was born in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1974. He currently lives and works in Cape Town (South Africa). In 2000 he graduated from the Academies des Beaux Arts in Kinshasa and in 2015 took a Master’s degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town. His works have been exhibited in numerous international museums such as the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts of Michigan, the South African National Gallery, the Centre Culturel des Mazades of Toulouse, and the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town. Maurice Mbikayi is a member of the Africa South Art Initiative (ASAI) and the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA). Recently he was also among the finalists of the Luxembourg Art Prize 2016.