UFA – University of African Futures

Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, France
10 Apr 2021 - 10 Aug 2021

Ecliptic (Black Liberation Zodiac) (detail), 2017 © Nolan Oswald Dennis and the Goodman Gallery

Ecliptic (Black Liberation Zodiac) (detail), 2017 © Nolan Oswald Dennis and the Goodman Gallery

UFA – University of African Futures invites artists who, from a critical approach to the notion of the future, ask themselves what knowledge and what stories are necessary for us to imagine the times to come.

What place did the African continent occupy in the development of speeches presented as narratives of the future ? What imaginaries of Africa have been mobilized? What remains of the utopias of the non-aligned futures? To explore these questions, the exhibition calls upon artists-researchers who go back in time to deconstruct clichés about Africa’s relationship to the future, and summon the mythologies of origins to invent alternatives. Heirs of Pan-Africanism and digital age, followers of collective approaches, they take hold of issues related to ecology, technologies, care and struggles for emancipation. The critical review in progress moves the frameworks for reflection and could allow the development of new utopias. The guest artists proceed as HistoFuturists, a term borrowed from African-American science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler. She defined the HistoFuturist as “someone who looks forward without turning his or her back on the past, combining an interest in the human factor and in technology.” The notion of “active utopia” by economist Felwine Sarr echoes this concept. He advocates a break with inadequate development models and calls for an archeology of local cultures, so that Africa can produce its “own metaphors of the future”.

The exhibition is also nourished by the philosophy of Souleymane Bachir Diagne and his critical point of view about the so-called African time, by the comments of the philosopher Valentin-Yves Mudimbe on the invention of Africa, and by the work of the historian Jenny Andersson on the research on the future which was carried out during the cold war in the United States, in Europe and in the USSR, while we were witnessing the emergence of claims from so-called “Third World” countries.

The title of the exhibition refers to the University of the African Future (UFA) in Sébikotane, Senegal, which is one of the major projects initiated by President Abdoulaye Wade in the mid-2000s and now abandoned. In their project called The School of Mutants, artists Hamedine Kane and Stéphane Verlet-Bottero explore how more than a century of colonial and then postcolonial history shaped educational policies in West Africa.
These models of education have not kept their promises and invite us to reinvent the idea of university. To create new tools for understanding our changing world and to symbolically abolish the spatio-temporal distance between the exhibition space and the African continent, a place designed by architects DK Osseo-Asare and Yasmine Abbas is installed at the very heart of the exhibition. Devoted to the construction of a common knowledge, it functions as a useful place, a laboratory, a meeting place, a university of popular education. Finally, let us recall that if Africa is a vast continent, made up of fifty-four countries, it is a question here of considering, as Felwine Sarr, that “African nations share the same destiny, face the same historical challenges, and have the same recent history”.

With: DK Osseo-Asare and Yasmine Abbas (Ghana / USA — France), Larry Achiampong (Ghana / UK), Lo-Def Film Factory : Francois Knoetze and Amy-Louise Wilson with Joe Yves Salankang Sa Ngol (South Africa / DRC), Hamedine Kane and Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro (Senegal / Mauritania — France / UK), Nolan Oswald Dennis (South Africa), Tegan Bristow, with Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Philisiwe Dube (South Africa), Russel Hlongwane (South Africa), Rita Raínho and Ângelo Lopes (Cape Verde), Kapwani Kiwanga (Canada / France), Tabita Rezaire (France / Denmark / Guyana), Jean Katambayi Mukendi (Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon), Afrotopiques : Marie-Yemta Moussanang (Tchad / France).

Curator of the exhibition: Oulimata Gueye (Senegal / France)





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