debate surrounding modern art in Africa has been all the rage
both inside Africa and outside the continent from the beginning
of the century until the last decade of the XX century. From one
coast to the other, words ring out: Black Identity, African Identity,
the trap of mimicry, the trap of academism, the trap of the international
market, the forced marriage of tradition and modernity, the political
desire for social art with a social vocation before and after
the independence movement.
genres is frequent between still living ritual art, popular art,
urban art, recovery art and the art that certain people would
like to call sophisticated. Social
Anthropologists fight with too few art critics to assert a solely
contextual reading. All speeches are good and accompany varied
productions of varied talents. Contempt for artists who are conscious
of their work has long resulted in there being seen as "sexual
psychopaths sacrificed on the altar of acculturation". Attempts
have even been made to portray these artists as merely "bastard"
products of an impossible synthesis between Africa and the West.
People want something that is authentic, true and pure, even if
they have to invent it. Artists wishing to paint, sculpt or produce
as they see fit have been tossed around, knocked down, and mostly
ignored because they only partially participate in the debate
from which they are the first to be excluded. (...)
Everybody is willing to subscribe to the idea that Africa is a
single unit, provided, however, that the basis and content of
this unit are specified. In actual fact, it is, quite paradoxically,
a multiple unit.
is a unit of condition, first and foremost. In all of human memory,
no continent has had a fate quite like Africa's. On the negative
side, this fate is a long succession of hardships, from the slave
trade to colonial domination, to post-colonial abuses. On the
positive side, it is a sort of ongoing success story, in which
the continent constantly gets up after being knocked down, overcomes
the gravest of crisis, each time regaining an autonomy that is
unceasingly threatened. That is why these issues of memory are
so important in today's African communities, as can be seen in
it's storybook, film, musical and of course, scientific production.
The message is the same in all of it's languages: restoring the
greatness of "Africa the cradle of Humanity" and land
of notorious empires and glorious heroes.(...)
This is why we can bet that the Africa of tomorrow will be, in
people's consciousness and in fact, both a cultural area and a
plurality of cultural areas.
"An Anthology of African Art- the XX century" - N'Goné
Fall & Jean Lup Pivin
(c) Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
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