Creating Art Archives. Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Future Within a Contemporary African Context

Les Abattoirs, Online, France
17 Mar 2021 - 18 Mar 2021

Nicène Kossentini, History Lessons 2 (détail), 2020, encre sur papier, eau, 51 x 36 cm 
© Galerie Sabrina Amrani

Nicène Kossentini, History Lessons 2 (détail), 2020, encre sur papier, eau, 51 x 36 cm © Galerie Sabrina Amrani

As part of the Africa2020 Season, and as a continuation of the exhibitions presented at Les Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie Toulouse, in particular concerning the question of transmission in contemporary societies, this edition of the Sommet de Septembre organised by Les Abattoirs opens up the debate on how the stories of a continent, of arts, and of individuals are written. Which archives should be used? Which stories? Which books? Where? On which networks? A series of discussions will be held on Les Abattoirs’ Facebook and YouTube accounts on Wednesday 17 March from 5 pm and on Thursday 18 March from 2 pm and will be available on Les Abattoirs’ YouTube channel and website.

The programme, coordinated by Missla Libsekal and Annabelle Ténèze with support by Evelyne Toussaint, gives voice to artists and historians, as well as magazine publishers, exhibition curators, and creators of digital content. The participants all question the writing of ancient, but especially contemporary history, particularly within an African context. They have broadened the notion of archives and ways of identifying and exploring them to bring visibility to new material and to unprecedented narratives. By bringing to bear different approaches, by thinking about different modes of writing knowledge, including digital knowledge, they have developed creative and original archives. How does one search in the past? How does one archive the present to create vocabularies of our times and write the past like the present for the future?

The opening evening of 17 March features Anne Laffont, an art historian and director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), who will discuss the issue of how to write the history of Black art in France. Achille Mbembé, a philosopher, political scientist, historian, and professor at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, will follow after her and speak about the possibilities and limits of archives.

On 18 March, a conversation will start every hour between those who have created or are creating historical or artistic content in an original way in contemporary art. What are their work methods? What media do they use (digital or paper magazines, libraries, exhibitions, the internet, social networks, etc.)? What has encouraged them to produce creative and accessible spaces for resources in their artistic practices, for today and for tomorrow? With Myriam Ben Salah (director of the Renaissance Society, Chicago), Julia Grosse (co-founder with Yvette Mutumba of Contemporary And – C&), Simon Njami and Jean Loup Pivin (co-founders of Revue Noire), Tounzi (founder of Manufactoriel), and others.

Contributions by artists will occur throughout the two days, using poetic or musical forms as a means for imagining, thinking about, and activating the archive. With Amira Hanafi, Nicène Kossentini, and Bhavisha Panchia.

Event organised as part of the Africa2020 Season, with the support of the AFD (Agence Française de Développement).



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