Conversations | Artist-Led Spaces: Learning from the African Continent
Art Basel in Basel, June 15, 2023
Artist-led spaces on the African continent are not a new phenomenon, but it’s a growing one. Artists are paving the way for future generations by setting up initiatives to support both their own practice and that of their peers. This conversation brings together representatives of four different projects on the African continent – located in Kumasi, Lagos, Nairobi, and Harare – to discuss their dreams, challenges, politics, and the impact they hope to have on their community and beyond. What can we learn from these new organizational models and networks?
‣ Yinka Shonibare, artist and Founder, Guest Artists Space Foundation, Lagos and Ijebu; Guest Projects, London
‣ Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, curator and critic, blaxTARLINES, Kumasi
‣ Dana Whabira, Artistic Director, Njelele Art Station, Harare
‣ Kaloki Nyamai, artist, founder and director, Kamene Art Residency, Nairobi
‣ Moderator: Kadiatou Diallo, curator, facilitator and cultural practitioner, Basel
‣ Artist Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in London, UK and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He lives and works in London. His interdisciplinary practice explores cultural identity and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation. In 2021, Shonibare launched Guest Artists Space Foundation, a non-profit founded and developed by the artist. The Foundation is dedicated to facilitating cultural exchange through residencies, public programmes and exhibition opportunities for practitioners from around the world. Shonibare is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Goodman Gallery.
‣ Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh is a curator and critic based in Kumasi, Ghana. He is a key member of the blaxTARLINES coalition and Exit Frame Collective— who has been running the annual peer-led, schizo-pedagogical and inoperative art school project called CritLab since 2020 in Ghana. Ohene-Ayeh co-organises Kelas Bareng — an experimental educational project managed between Gudskul, blaxTARLINES, Städelschule, and Nordland Kunst og filmhøgskole which featured in documenta fifteen (2022). He is presently a teacher at KNUST in Kumasi.
‣ Dana Whabira is an artist who lives and works in Harare where she founded Njelele art station. The station’s focus is the generation of projects through research, experimentation and exchange. Njelele is there to generate a critical gaze on society and history and interested in notions of interconnection, community and conviviality. In the past, programmes have encompassed residency, exhibition, talks, including a collaboration with the National Gallery, and now radio. It currently broadcasts from Zimbabwe on njelele.art/radio.
‣ Kaloki Nyamai creates intricate compositions on canvas. His works have shown internationally at the Stellenbosch Triennale (2020), Dakar Biennale, and Venice Biennale (2022). Recent solo shows include ‘Moments That I Miss’ (2022) and ‘Dining in Chaos’ (2023) at Galerie Barbara Thumm. Nyamai lives and works in Nairobi, where he is the founder and director of Kamene Art Residency. Kaloki Nyamai is represented by Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin.
‣ Kadiatou Diallo is an independent curator, facilitator and cultural practitioner based in Basel. She currently works as research associate at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel and as lecturer for the Master of Arts in Public Spheres (MAPS) at the édhéa (école de design et haute école d’art) in Sierre.
The Art Basel 2023 Conversations program is curated by Emily Butler. Coordination and support: Arianna Guidi.
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