The title of this exhibition comes from a statement made by Soly Cissé, whilst in recuperation for a serious operation, where the artist stated that sometimes he, as an African arts practitioner, felt that he ‘understood the world too much’ (tropcomprendre le monde). This sense of weariness (and wariness), as well as the confidence that underscores the statement, seems like an accurate representation of the feelings of many African artists today. In the choice and contextualization of art for this exhibition, the curator has sought to forge links between the history and legacy of African colonisation, history and society with the challenges that Africans face in terms of the contemporary industrial landscape, and the social and economic conditions presented to those that trace their roots to the continent, wherever they may live.
Works appropriate to this exhibition will be in a variety of media and ask questions about the way that contemporary African artists navigate a space in which increased globalisation is rushing forwards. How do Africans situate themselves in this environment and what are the particular challenges and opportunities that we face? Works on show engage with global political realities, the environment and inter-societal relations.
Do we, as Africans, ‘understand the world too much’? The aim of this exhibition is to demonstrate this understanding and our proactive responses to the challenges that the world in the present and the future that our continent offers in 2020 and beyond.
Andrew Lamprecht is a senior lecturer at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Having curated over twenty exhibitions, he is known as a writer, art historian and theorist with a special interest in contemporary African art. He serves on numerous South African advisory and consultancy boards and committees, including being a member of the acquisitions committee for the Iziko South African Gallery, an expert advisor to the South African Heritage Resources Agency and is a long-standing member of and former office bearer for the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).