Contemporary Sub-Saharan visual arts
Astrid Starck-Adler (Université de Haute Alsace)
B1 1.12
Thursday 18 July, 9:30-11:00, 14:30-16:00

Short abstract:

Europe is experiencing an increasing craze for contemporary African Visual Art. Simultaneously, the restitution of artefacts and artworks to former African colonies is a burning topic. The panel will investigate and analyse both phenomena.

Long abstract:

With the new millenium, a craze for contemporary African Visual Art emerged in Europe comparable to that of a century earlier when traditional African Art exerted tremendous influence, for example, on Picasso and Cubism. Thus, contemporary African artists are gaining recognition; suffice it to name here Benjamin Toguo, whose works are thematically related to historical, social and human events, past or present, and are distinguished by their commitment, creativity, originality, inventiveness and material diversity (e.g. Rwanda: Art Basel, 2018); Kifouli Dossou, who uses bright colours and superimposes tradition and modernity (reinvented Guélédé masks: Fondation Zinsou, Cotonou, Benin); or Hazoumé, who employs the recycled and the ready-made to confer polysemic meaning and, above all, transgressive signification to artistic creation (jerry cans). Far from exoticism, the search for personal expression and the ability to attain a collective dimension is one of the characteristic features of multiple artworks. Thus, it is not surprising that famous foundations and museums organize exhibitions devoted to contemporary Sub-Saharan Visual Art, focusing on a single country or on a broad range of countries, e.g. the Fondation Cartier (Beauté Congo 1926-2015, 2015), the Fondation Vuitton (Art Afrique, 2017) or Germany's Vitra Design Museum (Making Africa, A Continent of Contemporary Design, 2015). In a parallel development, this year's Berlin Biennale was marked by debate on the restitution of African artefacts and artworks to former colonies.