Museum of Ethnology Vienna (now: Weltmuseum Wien) and Kunsthalle Krems (Monoritenkirche)
Oladele Ajiboye Bamgboye (Nigeria/UK)
AN EXIT PERHAPS, as presented in the Völkerkunde Museum is a reworking of an earlier work of the same title that was based on my immigration to Germany during the Euphoria of a New Europe. This was a Europe that promised 'open' borders with greater cultural co-operation within its geographical limits, heralding the age of a New European Identity. It is therefore apt that the work should concern itself with migration across borders. In particular I was interested in the metaphor of the flowing of water across artificial boundaries and analysing whether the methods used to control the flow of water was akin to that of controlling the flux of people. I was interested, as a European in the events surrounding the German Reunification, and in particular that of the loss of identity of the former GDR. Gone was the Adler, referenced by the truncated Eagle'' wing in the first duratrans that is a close up of a hand that is apparently flapping in the wind. Gone also was the old GDR Flag, and the driving force for this migration of people towards the West from the East was economic. The might of the West German Economy is such that after absorbing the inefficiencies of the GDR Economy the Deutsche mark only dipped slightly in value. The vast wall, reminiscent of a giant bar code in which the video of people and water flowing along with the two photographic light boxes is a testament to economic might. In the last image, a young man questions us by his defiant stance. Shall we read his fortune as he displays his palm to us? Is he asking us to halt, or merely acknowledging our presence? I decided to adapt this work in the colours of the Austrian flag, since Austria is taking precedence of the European Union, amongst controversial conditions. Many feel that identities are threatened, economics must rule the day, yet my question is that now that Austria is in the EU, what then constitutes the Austrian identity? Are questions of migration still to be tabled for discussion? Is Austria going to put up a wall in order to stop migration across its border in an attempt to uphold a purported European ideal? My work aims to raise these and many more questions, and deal with real situations that affect us all.
Gordon Bleach (Zimbabwe/USA)
The Mote Series
A mote is a speck of opaque matter (dust) and, less commonly, also its converse; a specular highlight (gleam). Linguistic allusions include: moat (bulwark, rampart), demote, emote, motive (and its musical feint, motivic cell), motility, motel, remote, smote, bon mot. Mote carries athical freight, too, in the biblical injunction to remove impairments (beam, rock) form one's own eyes before demanding mote removal from others. The Mote Series is grounded on a double image: the artist's retinas. Oriented vertically with the left and right above, the pairing carries Latin connotations from sinister to dexter of the past rising to the future. In the figure-eight overlap, there is a sense of stereo targetting or crossed eyes; of a turn taken in a spotlit arena. The images are voyeuristic, after all, since the flashed camera vision peers through dilated lenses to reveal the darkened global cavities of the artist's eyes. this bright area in each retina to which all veins flow is the blind spot, which absorbs no light and is thus unseeing, but which collects all the image information and transmits it for the brain to envision. Given the artist's surname, it is a slight autobiographical irony that the translation of light falling on the retina into neural information is a chemical preocess of bleaching. Each title follows a standard form (with seperating comma). Each is manifest in the image and should be seen and heard as something of a deadpan mote itself; a highlight and/or blot on the screen, make/shift, in-and-out of place.
It is the interminable fabrications memory buildings of an archival corpus that sCRYPT fixates and embodies. Initialized in 1989 on the Wallace Memorial Library construcion site at the Rochester Institute of Technology, USA. sCRYPT proliferates as a viral archive through auditoria, books, bricks, computer bits, continents, individuals, etc. Building walks , Spurous Artifacts, Photographs One key aspect of sCRYPT is known as buildingScrypt. In this, a cluster of small geographic and architectural pathologies (building walks, spurious artifacts) materialized in the interim arenas of the construction site. Artifacts took on material form via the after-hours loan of Libray building materials. Through s-lavish transposition of thought at work in architecture gleaned from the writings of Jacques Derrida, Adolph Loos and Aldo Rossi, the artifacts performed as grafted filiation of material aphorisms. The motif of sCRYPT as a whole - both more than a building and no more of a building - is a material transference from Jacques Derrida's short definition of deconstruction: Plus d'une langue - more than a language and no more of a language.
Folake Shoga (Nigeria/UK)
"Oya" (Video installation): Within the Yoruba belief system, Oya is the goddess of storms, tempests and of the river Niger. I have interpreted her as a guardian of boundaries: boundaries between weather systems, different lands, and by analogy, between different cultures, and perhaps between two states of being, life and death.
When two systems meet, there is a great deal of turbulence. This figure of Oya represents the potentiality of such a turbulence. In legend "Oya is as powerful as the buffalo or bush cow whose hide she employs as a disguise when she withdraws from the world." (Miguel "Willie" Ramos). Meetings between Europe and Africa produced many changes in both cultures. This is a ongoing process which continuously recreates the world we live in. the presence of bronze heads from Benin can be seen as a signifier of this process, as can the presence of an exhibition of technology-assisted art from Africa.
Within Nigeria there are many traditions of mud-sculptures ranging from the formal, including a type of court art, to the intensely personal and idiosyncratic. Often they are devotional in purpose. Somewhere within this range is the work of Austrian artist Susanne Wenger, a founding contributor to the fusion of African /European art I remember in the Nigeria of my childhood. As a member of Nigeria's educated "elite" (as they used to call us in school) I have an academic rather than a visceral knowledge of these practices. But in the landscape of memory I also have images of weathered, half-broken clay figures submerged in long elephant grass, cerily powerful and silent, which evoke for me all manner of associated memories: Sunday afternoon drives in the bush, family visits, formal social occasions, cement funerary sculpture, the smell of harmattan, ... No doubt it is these factors which dictated that the first sculpture I attempted was in the form of a shrine. I was surprised that the figures almost seemed to make themselves. They have a strange autonomie.
Educated in the European Art School tradition, I had no idea that the ancient, but very culturally-specific archtypes I was dealing with would just click into place within my mind, proving a means of picturing the world, of giving ideas a concrete form, of mediating between something called "imagination" and something called "real life". from the beginning, each figure seems to have a life of its own, an internal logic and dynamism, which is my task ro uncover. The basic material for my figures is newspaper, which, both cheap and abundant, functions within my context as a substitute for clay. As for the moving image, it has been around for 100 years: long enough for us to stop being so impressed by its magic.
William Kentridge (South Africa)
William Kentridge's films chronicle the saga of Felix Teitlebaum (a man whose anxiety says the artist, "flooded half the house") and Soho Eckstein (a high-rolling real-estate promoter). In these melancholic and tormented tales, the outlines of the obsessive events of apartheid and the trauma of the Holocaust gradually become visible. The films take multiple narrative paths, prohibiting any univocal interpretation.Created in September 1993 and February 1994 just before the first general elections in the new South Africa, Felix in Exile testifies to a deep anxiety: will the victims of apartheid be remembered? Created eighteen months later during the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation commission, "History of the Main Complaint" (1996) is a reflection on collective and individual responsibility and on latent pangs of conscience at past injustice.
Cilia Sawadogo (Burkina Faso/Canada)
Animation films: "Naissance" and "Cora Player"
Everybody has the right to love freely, blind to covention and social class": The story is set in Burkina Faso. At the Highschool, a young girl gives a photo of herself to the boy she loves. Delighted, he kisses her and then watches as she takes off on her scooter. One day she invites him home to study. When her father finds out they are in love, he gets angry, pushes the young man around, and orders him to play his cora. Then the father throws a few coins to the musician, thus signifying they are not of the same social class. The young man belongs to the griot caste and so he does not have the right to court a young woman outside his caste. The unhappy young man returns home. With the help of the girl and her brothers, the young man manages to sneak onto the girl's property, where her family amd guests are assembled to celebrate a baptism. The adolescents are soon spotted by the father, who again tries to chase the young griot away. Supported by her friends, the young girl protests in song. Angrily brandishing a stick, the father attacks the young people. He is stopped by the patriarch, the supreme authority of the family, who has been watching all along. Thanks to his intervention and to the teenager's solidarity, things will never be the same.
Acha Debela (Egypt)
Achamyeleh Debela is a professor of art, and Director of the Computing Center for the Arts in North Carolina Central University. Debela is a digital artist / painter with numerous national and international exhibitions. He received his BA in Fine Arts at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria; a Master of Arts in Museology and Art History from Morgan State University; a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Hofberger Graduate School of Painting, at the Maryland Institute College of Arts both in Baltimore, Maryland, and his PHD studies in Computer Graphics and Art Education at the Computing Center for the Arts and Design, The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. Currently Debela chairs the Computer Graphics at HBCU's and Minority Institutions Commitee of the Association of American Machinery - Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics and Interactive Techiques, based at North Carolina Central University. He is also Chair, African Chapter of the Inter Society for Electronic Arts.
Kadiatou Konaté (Mali)
L'enfant terrible (Animation Film)
The terrible Child: This is the story of a child who knew how to walk, talk and eat from the day he was born. After a couple of days, he sets out in search of his brother. He finds him and together, they continue their journey. What follows is the adventure of an ungrateful child involving his brother in his exploits and misdeeds. This story is told in the moonlight to the children all over Africa.
Animation films by:
Jean Odutan (Benin)
Vincent Gles (Ivory Coast)
Ben Diogaye Beye (Senegal)
Owell Albert Brown (Ivory Coast)
Kibushi Ndjyte Wooto (DR Kongo)
Aline Moens (Benin/Senegal)