African artists at Venice Biennial
‘Dreams & Conflicts’ is the theme of the 2003
Venice Biennial. All associations with art, politics and societal
developments can be submitted. The Forum for African Arts invited
fourteen artists to express their vision: African who live in their
own country and some who live far away. The central metaphor is ‘fault
lines’ in their lives, their African identity or in African
post-colonial history. This produces a diverse image of Africa.
Different media are utilised - video, painting, architecture, photography
and equipment – and the themes are just as diverse. It is
clear that a one-dimensional and authentic Africa does not exist.
‘Fault lines’ refers to large shifts in the earth’s
crust, but also to the creation of new landscapes. For example,
Salem Mekuria created a film presentation about the existence of
conflicts, war, famine and the exodus from Ethiopia. Zarina Bhimji’s
image of an vacant Ugandan landscape shows the physical traces
of the migration. Kader Attia portrays transvestites and transsexuals.
They depict the experiences of Algerian migrants and those without
legal documentation who literally and figuratively live on the
fringes of the French capital. Political and social violence is
a frequently occurring theme. Laylay Ali painted cartoons about
the conflicts involving race and power. In their presentations,
Pitso Chinzima and Veliswa Gwintsa from South Africa show that
violence is one of the biggest problems resulting from globalisation.
And Sabah Naim's film and presentation depict the ever increasing
gap between the international arena of media and global politics
on the one hand and the world of the average Egyptian and his daily
struggle to survive on the other.
Two years ago the Forum for African Arts was presented at the
Biennial, with great success. The Prins Claus Fund published the
catalogue for that exposition. In June of this year the Prins Claus
Fund published a new publication: ‘Fault Lines: Contemporary
African Art and Shifting Landscapes’, for the forum’s
second exhibition at the Biennial.
The Venice Biennial runs until November 2nd.
Jacinta de Moor