Blain|Southern Berlin’s forthcoming exhibition, Useful Dreams, curated by Koyo Kouoh, is a comprehensive survey of the work of the Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté, one of the most eminent West African artists of his generation. Useful Dreams comprises works from the 1990s to the present, including nine new works created for this significant presentation.
Konaté is known for his large-scale compositions that use figurative and symbolic language. His textile-based installations explore socio-political and environmental issues, both specific to Mali and further afield; scenes of societal turmoil, military conflict, sovereignty, faith, globalisation, ecological shifts and the AIDS epidemic, all become subject to investigation and semiotic deconstruction. Employing materials typical to Mali, namely woven and dyed cloths, hand-embroidered and stitched together, Konaté draws on the West African tradition of using textiles as a mode of communication and commemoration. His referral to a localised cultural technique is then astutely realigned to meet with a wider geopolitical framework, the material acting as an intercessor between local and global structures.
The exhibition is accompanied by a colour illustrated catalogue including writings by the exhibition’s curator Koyo Kouoh, and writer and curator Roger M. Buergel.
Potsdamer Straße 77 – 87
Private View: Friday, 6 February 2015, 6 –9 pm
Born in 1953 in Diré, Mali, Konaté lives and works in Bamako, Mali. He studied painting at the Institut National des Arts in Bamako and then at the Institut Supérieur des Arts in Havana, Cuba, where he lived for seven years before returning to Mali. His work has been in numerous international exhibitions. Major group shows include documenta 12, Kassel (2007); Africa Remix international tour including the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Hayward Gallery, London (2004-2007); and more recently The Divine Comedy, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2014). In 2008, Konaté was nominated for the Artes Mundi prize, Cardiff. He has received several awards, including the prestigious Leopold Sedar Senghor Prize at the Dak’Art Biennale in Dakar (1996); the Officier de l’Ordre National du Mali (2009) as well as the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France (2002). He is currently founding General Director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia Balla Basseké Kouyaté in Bamako.
Koyo Kouoh is a Cameroonian-born and Dakar-based curator and cultural producer. She is the curator of FORUM, the education programme at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London and the founding artistic director of RAW Material Company in Senegal where she runs a sustained critical exhibition, residency and theoretical programme. Kouoh has curated numerous exhibitions internationally and lectured on contemporary art from an African perspective. She served as curatorial advisor for documenta 12 and 13 and was a member of the Golden Lion Jury at the 50th Venice Biennale.