Above: Isaac Kariuki, Weaponise The Internet for OOMK, 2017. © Courtesy the artist. Graphic design: The Laboratory of Manuel Bürger, Alexander Papoli-Barawati.
Africa is changing—radically—and digitization is playing a pivotal role. On this continent that has the world’s youngest population, digital practices are emerging that transform Africa’s societies and their global perception. Apps and digital content developed in Africa are increasingly entering the global technosphere. African digital infrastructures meanwhile remain marked by local and global asymmetries despite the widespread use of mobile phones. The rise of a number of well-connected digital hubs and scenes is accompanied by new forms of digital inequality. African digital innovations and practices still rely on infrastructures dominated by the Global North, and increasingly also by China.
The exhibition and research project Digital Imaginaries at ZKM | Karlsruhe, which was developed in collaboration with partners in Dakar and Johannesburg, take this contradictory digital diversity in Africa as its point of departure and reimagines what futures the digital might hold for Africa, and what Africa contributes to the digital. Like the exhibitions, workshops, and events that took place throughout 2018 in Senegal and South Africa as part of the project, the contributions now to be seen at the ZKM are by no means confined to describing digital transformations. Many of the works featured in this show engage with African histories, practices, and conditions to glean inspiration for emancipated digital futures that will withstand market-oriented interests and post-colonial hegemonies. Starting from artists’ positions which have developed in various countries on the African continent and in the African diaspora, the works featured in the exhibition articulate the necessity for more diverse, richer global digital imaginaries.
Digital Imaginaries is a joint project of Kër Thiossane and the Afropixel Festival in Dakar, the Wits Art Museum and the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival in Johannesburg, and the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. It is funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Larry Achiampong / Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou, L’Africaine d’architecture / Younes Baba-Ali / David Blandy / Tegan Bristow, Alex Coelho, Russel Hlongwane & João Roxo / Kombo Chapfika / Joshua Chiundiza / CUSS Group / Milumbe Haimbe aka ArtisTrophe / Olalekan Jeyifous & Wale Lawal / Wanuri Kahiu / Isaac Kariuki / Francois Knoetze / Maurice Mbikayi / Marcus Neustetter / DK Osseo-Asare & Yasmine Abbas, Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) / Tabita Rezaire / The Nest Collective
Curators: Oulimata Gueye, Julien McHardy, Philipp Ziegler
Curatorial assistants: Bettina Korintenberg, Barbara Zoé Kiolbassa (education)
Scientific advisor and project initiator: Richard Rottenburg