This Week in African Art and Culture (September 24-30, 2023)

This Week in African Art and Culture features exciting art news highlights from Senegal and the diaspora. The literature scene comes with its own dose of excitement as more African writers gain recognition, making the list for international prizes …

Alioune Diagne Selected to Represent Senegal at Venice Biennale 2024

For its first participation at the Biennale di Venezia taking place from April 20-Nov. 24, 2024, Senegal has selected artist Alioune Diagne to represent the country at the 60th International Art Exhibition.

Alioune Diagne has been developing an artistic language since 2013, describing it as “figuro-abstro”: a complex, meticulous style of painting that depicts figurative scenes using abstract elements inspired by calligraphy. Using imaginary and mysterious script-like motifs, he creates ambiguous and dynamic paintings that depict daily life in Senegal as well as the everyday experience of the African diaspora around the world.

Diagne is a socially engaged artist. In his works, he explores themes of major challenges facing the continent: ecology, the place of women in society, discrimination, and the notions of transmission and heritage.

The exhibition in the Senegalese pavilion, which will be displayed at the Arsenale, will be the fruit of a collaboration between Alioune Diagne, the Senegalese Ministry of Culture and Historical Heritage, and Massamba Mbaye, an art critic, curator and historian specializing in communication theories.

Alioune Diagne’s work has been featured in a wide range of solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Africa and Asia since 2011 and was included in the collection of Senegal’s Domaine Privé Artistique de l’Etat (DPAE) in 2019.

Represented by Galerie Templon, Alioune Diagne’s work was selected and shown at the 14th edition of the Dakar Biennale in 2022. From Sept. 16, 2023-March 5, 2024, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen is holding a solo exhibition of his work, Ndox – Glint (The Glint of Water), featuring around ten canvases created between 2022 and 2023.

Centering on the theme of the river, the exhibition creates an encounter between Diagne’s previously unseen canvases and pieces from the museum’s collection by Impressionist masters and leading figures from the Rouen School.

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s New Work at Frieze Sculpture 2023

You will carry dreams, memories, and new beginnings (48 Days), a new work by Nigerian American artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi, is on view at Frieze Sculpture, Regent’s Park in London.

This work is formed from casts of grinding stones, which have been used for generations in Nigeria to grind foods such as okra, beans, hot pepper and tomato. Each grinding stone cast in this installation is made from melted water and gas head fittings, with materials sourced in Nigeria. These casts are etched with words taken from titles of the artist’s previous works. The sculpture maps a 48-day walk from Lagos to London, and Ogunbiyi invites viewers to touch the work and charge the stones with their own intentions.

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, in her practice, Ogunbiyi moves between drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, and her work responds to, and forges a dialogue between global current events, anthropological histories and botanical cultures.

Curated by Fatoş Üstek, Frieze Sculpture 2023 addresses how the medium of sculpture can be both monumental and ephemeral, qualities manifested explicitly in You will carry dreams, memories, and new beginnings (48 days).

Ogunbiyi’s installation at Frieze Sculpture will coincide with a career retrospective at the Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland, opening on Oct. 18, 2023.

Recent exhibitions and projects include Lagos, London, Repeat at the South London Gallery (July 5-Aug. 29, 2023), where she presented a newly commissioned sculpture and installation; O Quilombismo, HKW, Berlin (group—2023); The Company She Keeps, Tiwani Contemporary, Lagos (group—2023); and the 12th Berlin Biennale (2022). In 2018, she was a recipient of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

You will carry dreams, memories, and new beginnings (48 days) will be on view until Oct. 29, 2023.

Maaza Mengiste and Mohamed Mbougar Sarr: Finalists for Swedish International Literature Prize

Maaza Mengiste and Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, alongside four others, have been declared finalists of Sweden’s 2023 Kulturhuset Stadsteatern’s International Literature Prize.

Starting in 2016, the Internationella Litteraturpris (International Literature Prize) has been awarded annually to an outstanding work of fiction in commendable Swedish translation. It rewards authors and translators with a cash award of SEK 150,000 (U.S. $13,737) divided equally between them.

The 2023 jury comprises Jonas Thente (DN), Claes Wahlin (Aftonbladet), Yukiko Duke (SvD), Mara Lee (writer), Marc Matthiesen (Kulturhuset Stadsteatern) and Fredrik Lind (Kulturhuset Stadsteatern), chairman Athena Farrokhzad (program manager, literature, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern) and secretary Hanna Karlsson (producer, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern).

This team announced the finalists, with the following writers of African descent among the six:

  • Skuggkungen (The Shadow King), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/U.S.), translator Örjan Sjögren, Bokförlaget Tranan (Tranan Publishing House)1

The jury stated that Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King highlights the role of women in the Ethiopian resistance against Mussolini’s invasion forces. With both a lustful and crystal-clear narrative and a carefully drawn gallery of characters, Maaza Mengiste succeeds in transforming years of research into a magnificent historical novel. An impression that is reinforced by Örjan Sjögren’s always excellent translation.

  • Fördolt är minnet av människan (Hidden is the memory of man), Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Senegal/Frankrike), translator Cecilia Franklin, Albert Bonniers Förlag

Of Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, the judges stated, “A young African writer, who thinks he has seen through the French literary machinery, stumbled upon a forgotten masterpiece that turned his life upside down. He sets out on a quest and must face both the horrors of history and his own darkness. The novel, seamlessly and attentively translated by Cecilia Franklin, plays with the tropes of metafiction and recasts them into a breathtaking suspense adventure.”

The winners will be announced on Oct. 24, 2023.

2023 Kendeka Prize for African Literature Announces Longlist

The longlist for the 2023 Kendeka Prize for African Literature is out. The list includes six writers from Kenya, three from Nigeria, and one each from Botswana, Cameroon, South Africa and Malawi.

The Kendeka Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short story, either fiction or creative nonfiction. Initiated by Kenyan writer Andrew Maina, the Prize aims to encourage Africans to write and read more. The Prize is run by an advisory board chaired by Prof. Kamau Goro and includes Dr. Tom Odhiambo, Muthoni wa Gichuru, Patrick Gatobu, William Mureithi, Lucas Wafula and Andrew Maina.

The overall winner of the 2022 Prize was Scholastica Moraa (Kenya) for her short story, Chained. The 2021 prize winner was Jenny Robson (Botswana) for her story, Water For Wine.

The 13 stories in this year’s longlist were chosen in a rigorous selection process. The panel of three judges includes chair Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda from Zimbabwe, Richard Ali from Nigeria and Pasomi Mucha from Kenya.

Selected from 25 African nations, the 13 longlisted stories are:

  1. We Came for Mangoes by Hussani Abdulrahim (Nigeria)
  2. What Ails this Country by Tom Sewe (Kenya)
  3. Matlhalerwa by Keabetswe Molotsi (Botswana)
  4. The Lance Corporal’s Door by Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi (Nigeria)
  5. The Collector of Tears by Evalyne Muliwa (Kenya)
  6. The Straw Traveler by Mathew Kipsang (Kenya)
  7. Waiting on Sirius by Dismas Komollo Okombo (Kenya)
  8. Muzukulu by Muruli Muhande (Kenya)
  9. The Old Batman T-Shirt by Victor Williams Lawson (Nigeria)
  10. Stolen Years by Yanjanani l. Banda (Malawi)
  11. African Man Living Under a Rock by Brian Guserwa (Kenya)
  12. At the End of the Day by Justice Jostino Ripinga (South Africa)
  13. Neutralised by Joseph Akwa Takor (Cameroon)

The top three winners will be announced during an award ceremony to be held on Oct. 7, 2023.

Compiled by Roli O’tsemaye

You May Also Like