The exhibition Ex África has more than 90 works that reveal the history and the current moment of a continent that, while trying to rebuild itself from the wound caused by centuries of slave trade and colonization, again expand its colors and culture to other borders through sculptures, photographs, installations, performances, paintings and videos.
Names such as the Ghanaian Ibrahim Mahama – who will set up a gigantic installation in the Glass Pavilion of CCBB Brasília -; of the provocative Senegalese portraitist Omar Victor Diop, of Zimbabwean photographer and activist Kudzanai Chiurai and 15 other artists from eight African countries will join those of two Brazilians: Arjan Martins from Rio de Janeiro and Dalton Paula, from Brasília, Brazil.
Arjan and Dalton have works dedicated to the African heritage in Brazilian culture. To do this, they conducted studies in the Brazilian Quarter, a neighborhood located in the Nigerian capital built by Brazilians who returned to the continent after the abolition of slavery in the late nineteenth century.
The Brazilian Dalton de Paula, by the way, has gained international prominence with his work that goes back to the reality of Afro-descendants in Brazil. He is, for example, the only representative of the country in this year’s edition of the New Museum Triennale, one of New York’s greatest visual arts exhibitions.
Tradition and modernity
An acid criticism of colonialism and the slave trade is in Echoes of History, the first part of the exhibition. In it, stands an installation made up of objects from the time of the slave trade (handcuffs, marking irons, coins, arrest warrants).
Signed by the Nigerian artist Ndidi Dike, the work proposes an obscure journey through time, a ruthless time, marked by human suffering and greed.
The works also suggest a bitter reflection on the relationship between poverty, unemployment, recent migrations and aspects related to the times of slave ships. They do not fail to remember the impositions of a Western religious culture and colonial heritage, evidenced in the series of photographs by Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, artist from Benin. In part of his work he evokes Code Noir, a decree in which the French colonial administration of West Africa regulated slavery.
Desolate landscapes, order and chaos, modernity and ruins. These and many other contractors from the African metropolis are in the works of The Urban Drama.
One of the highlights goes to the video installation Ponte City, named after a skyscraper in downtown Johannesburg. Signed by artists Mikhael Subotsky and Patrick Waterhouse, the work is comprised of 12 digital windows that simulate the view of the building marked by stories of decadence and gentrification.
Karo Akpokiere, born in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and one of the largest in the world, signs illustrations with strong elements of pop culture that satire the myriad of advertisements that daily invade the megalopolis and reflect fads, the market and its inequalities, politics and bargaining of all kinds.
Braided hair resembling delicate sculptures; portraits with ironically pompous air remind the remarkable Africans who acted in Europe between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The expressive strength of body aesthetics is in the photographs, videos and installations of Bodies and Portraits, a cut that features Senegal’s famous self-portraits Omar Victor Diop and the Hairdo Revolution series, with black and white photographs by Nigerian JD Okhai Ojeikere.
Another highlight of the Bodies and Portraits axis is the multifaceted art of the Angolan Nástio Mosquito. Through videos, performances, experimental music, installations and poetry, the artist raises questions about faith, identity, colonial heritage, among other themes. “Where do we want to go? What do we want to build? “He asks. “Do not be cool, be relevant. And if you can be cool in a relevant way, even better, “he says. In the show he presents a video installation of the song Hilário.
From the afrobeat of Fela Kuti, to Nigerian pop, Musical Explosions transforms one of the galleries of “Ex Africa” into the “Clube Lagos”. Power, sex, wealth and religion are common themes of African music and gain relevance in this room where the clichés of world music give way to the authenticity of Naija Pop. Femi Kuti’s New Afrika Shrine, very popular on the Nigerian scene, is also among the highlights.
Venue: CCBB Brasília
Where: SCES, Trecho 02, lote 22
When: From August 7 to October 11. From 09:00 am to 09:00 pm.