African Odysseys is a journey right into the heart of contemporary art from the south-eastern African continent. The exhibition guides the visitor through 11 countries, which were visited by the Black Journey expedition, a French expedition, just 90 years prior.
Taking the distant echo of this colonial event as a starting point, African Odysseys draws on history and aims to explore its impact on contemporary life through the works of 17 artists, all originating from south-eastern Africa, works which have hardly ever or never been exhibited in Europe before.
The main purpose of the exhibition is to call into question the historical accounts that colonize our imagination and to invent new journeys in the present. In order to implement this ‘archaeology of contemporary life’, the project focuses on examining the gaps in history, which is envisaged as a continuous process of negotiation, confrontation, interpretation and reinvention. The artists examine how their own personal history and official history match up, their personal and collective memory, the past and the present, in which they construct new stories from this history. The project can be likened to what Achille Mbembe referred to as ‘the poetic productivity of memory’: a work of re-assembling in the present, focusing on meaning, and revealing complex realities of an Africa that is largely unknown.
In African Odysseys, the artists make use of a wide variety of media and art forms, i.e. drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations, videos and performances, in order to (re)think history and to inform us about contemporary life by exploring three topics: historical material, the human body and urban space.
The multiplicity of points of views and positions that are put forward in African Odysseys is proof of the artists’ special ability to expertly marry up their different symbolic heritage in order to arrive at completely novel constructions, and fertile hybridisation and even new utopias. By adopting formal and often innovating approaches, these African Odysseys provide us with new perspectives of this continent, perspectives of artists who are custodians of their history and completely in tune with the world.
Exhibition Curator : Marie-Ann Yemsi
Maimuna ADAM (Mozambique) Sammy BALOJI (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Lazara Rosell Albear (Cuba) Rehema CHACHAGE (Tanzania) Anawana HALOBA (Zambia) Wanja KIMANI (Kenya) Ato MALINDA (Kenya) Michele MATHISON (Zimbabwe) Meleko MOKGOSI (Botswana) Rina RALAY-RANAIVO (Madagascar) Athi-Patra RUGA (South Africa) Yves SAMBU (Democratic Republic of Congo) Georges SENGA (Democratic Republic of Congo) Kemang WA LEHULERE (South Africa) Emma WOLUKAU-WANAMBWA (Uganda) Billie ZANGEWA (Malawi) Portia ZVAVAHERA (Zimbabwe)
Exhibition Scenographer: Franck Houndégla
Opening 2nd April, 6pm
The African Odysseys exhibition is linked to Body Talk’; an exhibition on feminism, sexuality and the human body portrayed in the works of six African artists, and which will take place at WIELS from 14th February until 3rd May 2015. Whilst both exhibitions are running in tandem, visitors will be offered a combined ticket as well as a number of combined events.
BRASS – Centre Culturel de Forest,
364 Avenue Van Volxem, 1190 Forest