AFRICA’SOUT! is a creative dynamic space made to initiate + create radical ideas that change the way we all engage with Africa. Highlighting the urgency of pressing social and political issues, they, like us, believe in ‘Imaginative Activism’. And we are more than thrilled they asked us to collaborate on a short art curation format to be also featured through their instagram : @africasout. <3
Dark soul realism.
Saba, 40 x 40 cm, Acrylic on paper, 2011 © Daniela Yohannes – courtesy of the artist.
Taboo, 50 x 40 cm, Oil on canvas, 2013 © Dalila Dalléas Bouzar – courtesy of the artist.
One might associate representation, when coming to (female) African and/or black bodies in particular, to the political. Yet the pitfall is often to only take into account one skin&flesh body representation. I mean, be sure that « our » bodies have been made political : demonized, dissected, excruciated – once ; fantasized, groped, publicized – twice ; anonymized, objectified, desensitized – still. Yet, what about our souls ? Or is it still and definitely to be understood that we don’t have any ? The religious lexicon might not be as famous as it was once, yet I believe that what makes anyone an artist – and especially a genius ‘figurative’ painter – is its ability, not to seize/depict/capture, but to touch/sketch/raise the complex and intricated array of emotions, feelings and beliefs of their alter-ego ; which I call, the soul. And that is precisely what fascinates me with both Daniela’s and Dalila’s works. So please put aside your (western) technical / (western) objective / (western) art history and other (western) criteria aside for a minute, and let go before their a-temporal, multi-dimensional and trans-spiritual representation, of « our » souls. At least, that’s what I believe should be at core when raising up « representation » issues… Don’t you think so ?
A new French school.
Citéphilia, 2016 © Eden du Paradis – courtesy of the artist.
Erotica Romance, 2016 © Kengné Teguia – courtesy of the artist.
Being black makes you a freak. You are expected to have uncommon (= exotic) skills and references or, on the contrary, inbred disability and weaknesses (from stupidity or violence to PTSDs…). You cannot stand for yourself really. In both cases, whatever you do or propose, act and believe, create and overturn…, it will be drown into an exogenous lecture and critical reception – which btw, is likely to be a naive/hypocritical/scared praise rather than a constructive disagreement. And by exogenous I mean that it won’t question your personal trajectory only but what it may mean «on behalf on the group ». No matter what you will always be considered to speak for your race. Yet don’t get me wrong : I do believe in the importance of a « collective responsibility ». And even if it can sometimes feel like a burden, all the more at a time when we all seek for individual recognition, I think it might as well be some kind of advantage! Being an outcast, isn’t something to be proud or ashamed of. In a sense : it is just the way it is. Thus what matters is how responsibility in fact relates to a certain sense of freedom : the very unique way you live can become exemplary. And it doesn’t mean you have to follow by the general rules, it means you can make your own! And in a sense that is what Eden and Kengné make me realize. Their art is freer than other expressions. The more they accumulate freaky ‘conditions’, the more they put you off the scent. And I guess that’s my second definition of art : « a state or weird » – illegitimate, indisciplined and crawling.
2016 – sculpture – votive, jeans, coquillage cassis-cornuta, vase, pigments alimentaires, perle végétale, bois flotté, bois, peinture indigo industrielle, (divers fluides), affiche poème, 149,5 x 79,5 cm © Julien Creuzet – courtesy of the artist.
Julien’s work oscillates between art-video, installation and a singular presence of the voice, which he truly performs. His works are poems, like an hymn to a star archipelago. To conclude this journey then, here is an artist with a singular clairvoyance, who gives body to the sound, lightness to matter and tells the flight of the strangest souls.
« Of an intensity, cyan, a child-dog, | and its spotted body. | Cyan, blood, | on the path-dog, where the blue body lies, on the water bed. Sepal, | Sepal, | lotus bowels. |Blue body, | works, | within the volcano hole. | Blue, efficient, his son, sky, his indigo child. »
(Original extract, in French : “D’une intensité, cyan, enfant-chien, | au corps tacheté. | Cyan, sang, | sur le chemin-chien, ou gît le corps bleu, sur le lit d’eau. Sépale, | sépale, | entrailles de lotus. | Corps bleu, | travaille, | dans l’orifice du volcan. | Bleu, efficient, son fils, ciel, son enfant indigo.”)
Daniela Yohannes / (interview to come)
COVER : Shariffa Ali, AFRICA’S OUT logo, 2016
Diplomée de Philosophie puis Gestion de Projets Culturels, Mawena fait ses premières armes dans les milieux de l’art contemporain tout en menant de front divers projets : soirées, édition, collectifs artistiques… Fondatrice et directrice de Black(s) to the Future, son objectif est simple : mettre en lumière la part « afro » du monde et performer le futur. | www.mawenayehouessi.fr // @ma.wena
All the team