Sunday, 11 February 2007

Africa Centre, African Dream

Once again I am in South Africa within 2 months of my participation in the pioneering curatorial workshop for emerging South African curators organised by VANSA The current trip is at the invitation of the Spiers Art Trust in Stellenbosch for the official launch of an even more pioneering and ambitious project called the Africa Centre. The premise of the project as summarized by the reference group which met over a 3 year period states that ‘Africa enters the 21st century without a major, international museum or research institute dedicated to its arts continent-wide. The Africa Centre seeks to remedy this situation. Its aim is to create a space where the visual, performance and intellectual cultures of Africa, south and north, present and past, are celebrated and studied, brought to life for diverse audiences in innovative ways, through a wide range of approaches.’

Spiers has a large contemporary art collection displayed throughout the hotel

The first project within the En/Tangled Nations theme (outside of the reference group meetings) brings together over 60 cultural workers – artists, performers, musicians, dancers, singers, poets, curators, academics, filmmakers from within the continent and the diaspora to discuss, debate and create a possible way forward for the Africa centre. The format for the launch departed from the norm. Eschewing the usual come and chop (as we say in local parlance) – although there was a lot of that - with the good, the great and the beautiful, it was a cocktail of debate, dialogue, artistic production, live performances all hinged together with cutting edge technology and satellite links to other venues such as The Bag Factory in Johannesburg. This all took place in superb settings which was stellenbosch and its beautiful natural environment, the Spiers 5*hotel complex and the southbank side of the vast estate which will be the physical location for the Africa Centre. The organisational professionalism on all levels from the caterers, the guides to the technical team and the facilitators needs to be highly commended.
Work time Break time
We were divided into 4 groups of approx 15 people with no set deliverables or format except a guiding theme En/tangled Nations. Within our individual groups we were encouraged to discuss our understanding of En/tangled nations in which the final result could be a play, film, performance, an artwork. Throughout the 3 days our deliberations were recorded and made available for viewing later in the day. In the evenings we were treated to collaborative sessions by musicians, singers, performance poets and dancers and visual artists some rehearsed others improvised. It really demonstrates the power of culture. And maybe in a zone so badly scarred by war, famine and political mismanagement, the Africa Centre signals hope for the future. The first publication of the centre and on the working sessions of En/tangled nations will be available within the next 12-15 months.

Live performances.

Ray Lema gave an moving performance to round off the launch programme.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home