Ranging from sculptors to photographers, Art Radar profiles ten artists to look out for at Dak’Art 2014.
The eleventh edition of Africa’s major contemporary art event, the Biennale of Dakar, popularly known as Dak’Art, will take place from 9 May to 8 June 2014 in Dakar, Senegal. Art Radar profiles ten exciting artists from Africa and the African diaspora who will exhibit at Dak’Art 2014.
Dak’Art 2014 will take place over five venues and is curated by Elise Atangana, Abdelkader Damani and Smooth Ugochukwu Nzewi. The main highlight of the biennale is an exhibition of 61 artists from Africa and the African Diaspora. There will also be exhibitions by guest artists and a special exhibition on African sculpture.
Art Radar picks ten artists to look out for at the main event of Dak’Art 2014, the international exhibition of African and African diaspora artists.
Influenced by the documentary photographs of John Liebenberg, artist Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979, Luanda, Angola) uses images to narrate untold stories. Known for his striking but never retouched photography, he also works with installations, mixed media, music and theatre. His installation O.R.G.A.S.M, the Organisation of African States for Mellowness, uses photographs and objects to comment ironically on the so-called philanthropic efforts of western non-governmental organisations, providing a “critical insight on how charity has become part-business and part-propaganda.”
Kia Henda’s works often employ humour and irony to discuss postcolonialism, identity, politics and modernisation in Angola and Africa. His work has been widely exhibited, including at the African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2007. His photographic series Icarus 13 was created for the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial in 2008, and also shown at the São Paulo Biennial in 2010 and INSERT2014 in New Delhi, India. In 2012, Kia Henda won the National Award for Culture and the Arts from the Angolan Ministry of Culture.
Wangechi Mutu was born in Nairobi and is currently based in New York. She works primarily with painting and collage, using Mylar (a heat-resistant plastic that congeals paint rather than absorbing it) and images from sources like magazines, anthropology and botany texts, medical diagrams, travel postcards, pornographic materials, hunting publications and traditional African arts. Her “fleshy images” explore the female body as a site of engagement and also use materials such as fake pearls and synthetic hair.
The End of Eating Everything is Mutu’s first animated movie, which carries over her trademark style using Mylar. Her characters are often hybrid “creature-women” and the protagonist of this film is a female creature obsessed with consumption, played by American singer-songwriter Santigold. The soundtrack for the film is an original compilation by Mutu.
Wangechi Mutu is the winner of the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year Award (2010) and Brooklyn Museum’s Artist of the Year (2013). She has exhibited widely and her work is included in the collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Tate Modern.
Olu Amoda is a renowned Nigerian sculptor, muralist, furniture designer and multimedia artist who repurposes various materials for his creations. His work Sunflower is created from steel and metal spoons, both strong materials, uniting to form a softer subject: a sunflower. Amoda often uses discarded materials, and the nails that form the flower’s centre were acquired from containers that arrived at Lagos’ Tin Can Island as luxury goods for the elite. According to the Dak’Art website, Sunflower thus
presents a subtle commentary on primitive consumerism as the new ‘cool’ in Africa, and how global neoliberalism masks Nigeria’s, and by extension, Africa’s lack of industrial agency.
Olu Amoda’s work has been exhibited worldwide and he is the Founder and Chief Executive of Riverside Art and Design Studios in Yaba, Lagos. He has taught Sculpture and Drawing at the School of Art, Design and Printing at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos since 1987.
A performance artist, Ato Malinda (b. 1981) addresses issues such as sexuality, colonisation, race and culture through her practice. Her work has ranged from being performed on the streets to a participatory performance at a gallery. The performance that Malinda will showcase at Dak’Art Biennale 2014 is called Mshoga Mpya (The New Gay), in which only one person can experience the performance at a time in an enclosed cubicle with the artist. The intimacy of the performance reflects its private nature as it tells stories that Malinda collected in Nairobi of experiences faced by the LGBT community.
Ato Malinda grew up in the Netherlands, Kenya and the United States. She is currently pursuing an MFA at New York’s Transart Institute, starting out as a painter but now working with diverse media such as installation, video and drawing. She is also a freelance curator.
Fayçal Baghriche (b.1972, Algeria) is a performance artist, photographer and sculptor. In Wenn du ins Feuer guckst (When you look into the fire) the artist explores the idea of “urban phantoms”, images that fade away in light. The inspiration for the title and concept came from a conversation the artist had with a store owner in Vienna, who described art as staring into a fire and seeing shapes emerge. Baghriche’s work explores representation, reinterpretation and collective symbols.
Fayçal Baghriche has exhibited at Beijing Outpost for Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art of Algiers (Algeria) and the Gwangju Biennale, and his work will be shown at Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Meriem Bouderbala (b. 1960, Tunisia) is an influential artist, interested in exploring minority art or that which is beyond the traditional, as well as issues such as femininity, chaos and culture. In Karakuz the Locus Geni (Or the wisdom of popular small disturbances), she uses the symbol of refusal, the “karakuz”, which is a mischievous and immoral character in oriental traditions.
Bouderbala studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Aix in Provence, and the Chelsea Art School in London. Her work has been exhibited in Tunisia, France, the USA, Morocco, and Portugal, and is included in the permanent collection of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
A visual artist and painter, Nidhal Chamekh (b. 1985, Tunisia) began exhibiting his work at the age of twelve in Tunisia, and later in France and internationally. The persecution of his militant family in Tunis had a deep impact on his art, which is fragmented, figurative and complex. The series De quoi rêvent les martyrs? (What martyrs dream of?) are ink drawings combining various techniques. According to his profile, his work explores the “chaos of history” and
has to do with introducing the montage as a tool to see the social temporality and to collect in the same space the visual dislocation of the world.
Chamekh’s work has been exhibited in Tunisia, France, Switzerland and Italy. He is currently researching for his PhD at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Arlene Wandera (b. 1981, Kenya) is based in London and is a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art. Her work explores socio-political themes and she uses various media such as sculpture, print, performance and installations. Her artwork I’ve Always Wanted a [Doll] House disrupts the innocent allusion to a child’s toy, dripping with white paint down to the exhibition floor. The figurines in the house are faceless and unidentifiable, and placed in unusual positions rather than depicting a perfect quotidian lifestyle, thus representing the larger struggles of people. The work opens up conversations on the dreams of childhood, expectations from adulthood and issues such as housing and status quo.
Wandera has performed and exhibited internationally, with group shows in South Africa, South Korea, Germany and London, and performances in Glasgow and at Tate Modern. She has recently completed artist residencies in Spain and South Korea.
Photographer Baudouin Mouanda (b. 1981, Congo) is known for the sensitivity of his photographs. Starting his career as a news photographer, he was attracted to documenting more emotional stories, leading to his first series, “The Aftermath of the War”, which won him the award for Best Photographer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa.
Mouanda’s series “Rêve” (“Dream”) involves female models photographed in unusual locations while wearing a wedding gown. The title is ironic, a meditation on the motivation behind the institution – and illusions – of marriage. The project was featured in a six-part documentary series for Al Jazeera named Artscape: The New African Photography. Mouanda also collaborates with several magazines including Jeune Afrique, Le Monde, Magazine Photo and Afrique Asie.
Candice Breitz (b. 1972, Johannesburg) is a Berlin-based video artist who often explores issues of identity in Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa through images and visual culture. According to her profile, questions such as “how an individual ‘becomes’ him or herself in relation to a larger community” and the role of mainstream media such as cinema, television and music in shaping this community identity are central to her work.
In her 2011 single-channel video Extra, Breitz superimposes herself in scenes from one of South Africa’s most popular soap operas, Generations. The show is primarily about “an aspect of post-Apartheid black middle class reality”. As a white South African, Breitz’s presence in these scenes from the show is not as a character but as an extra, often exaggerating the idea of anonymity to comedy by inserting disembodied limbs in scenes rather than her entire body. The awkwardness of her presence makes the fact that she is invisible to the characters glaringly obvious, and makes a strong comment on what institutional media representation during the Apartheid era was like through a role reversal of sorts.
Candice Breitz has exhibited globally in prestigious museums as well as biennales, including the Venice Biennale in 2005. Her work has also been shown at the Sundance Film Festival (2009) and Toronto International Film Festival (2013).
- 4 West African photographers to know now – March 2014 – Art Radar profiles four West African photographers who challenge stereotypical representations of their countries, people and culture through art
- Sub-Saharan Africa’s first contemporary art museum opens in Benin – January 2014 – Zinsou Foundation inaugurated the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in Sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa
- Oman donates USD1.8 million to the Smithsonian’s African art museum – November 2013 – the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art receives generous donation from the Sultanate of Oman
- Angola’s Golden Lion 2013: What next for Venice’s winning pavilion? curator interview – October 2013 – Beyond Entropy’s Paula Nascimiento and Stefano Rabolli Pansera, the curators of the first Angola Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, talk about the country’s contemporary art scene
- Wangechi Mutu’s “surreal cosmos”: Kenyan contemporary art – picture feast – August 2013 – Kenya-born artist Wanghechi Mutu has her first retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Subscribe to Art Radar for more on Dak’Art 2014