Contemporary African art is an artistic movement that has been influenced by technological progress and interculturalism. This influence has helped reveal new forms of cultural and societal expression on Africa’s thriving art scene. The “House of Reasoned Truths” exhibition focuses specifically on contemporary video art, highlighting its aesthetics and various formal methods in response to its ability to adapt to the age of globalization. Presented until October 28, 2023 at Telematic Media Arts in San Francisco, this multimedia presentation reveals the full splendor of Africa through works by artists from various parts of the continent.
The grandiose metamorphosis of contemporary African art has enabled artists to explore countless possibilities for artistic innovation. The result has been the growing discovery of a constantly creative and multi-faceted African art. The “House of Reasoned Truths” exhibition brings together works by African artists who draw on this artistic trend, while drawing inspiration from African realities to create profoundly expressive art. Through multimedia art and film, these emerging artists aesthetically address issues of community, social cohesion, feminism, diasporic subjectivity, geopolitics, environmental forces, performativity and power.
Working reflexively, they use the structure of their respective social worlds to undertake personal introspection. Through their video works, they create a reflexive atmosphere within the gallery, taking the public on a meditation on Africa and the world today by transporting them outside reductive historical classifications.
Organized by French Togolese curator and consultant Kisito Assangni, “House of Reasoned Truths” will feature works by artists Halida Boughriet, César Schofield Cardoso, Djibril Dramé, Victor Mutelekesha, Nyancho NwaNri, Harold Offeh, Minnette Vári and Haythem Zakaria.
Halida Boughriet is an Algerian artist who graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the SVA New York exchange program in cinematography. Her artistic practice is experimental and poetic. She explores a wide range of media and places performance at the center of her artistic expression, using a variety of elements and tools.
In “Feuille d’or (Gold leaf)“, the contemporary artist presents archival photographs of black women illuminated by a match held in one hand. She accompanies her images of orientalized African women, abandoned and enslaved, with her captivating voice reciting verses or poems to unsettle the viewer. The sparkle offered by the match allows a furtive analysis of the period images. Halida Boughriet seduces the audience with the rhythm of her voice, before trapping them in the shadows of that era for lack of interpretation time, a too-short moment before the match is consumed.
Cesar Schofield Cardoso
Cesar Schofield Cardoso is a photographer, video artist and software developer from Cape Verde. In his artistic practice, he interrogates history, memory, politics and everyday life, in order to better grasp the complexity that characterizes the conditions and possibilities of his birthplace, Cabo Verde, located in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean.
Through his work “Blue Womb“, he redefines the sea as a place of creation, not just of violence and trauma. Indeed, this blue world is linked to many poignant African stories, including slavery and migration. Its artistic representation takes the viewer beyond this trauma by reimagining the ocean as a creative reserve. Addressing two concepts of the American philosopher and biologist Donna Haraway, Cesar Schofield Cardoso’s visual narrative also proposes an alliance of the ocean’s waste with its infinity of living forms, in reference to the symbiosis between living and non-living matter.
Djibril Dramé‘s art brings to the fore relevant and potentially controversial social issues impacting today’s world. A Senegalese visual artist based in Dakar, his practice reveals multiple aspects of Africa’s rich cultural historicity, offering a captivating alternative African narrative. The “Sabadola Zombies” work he presents in the exhibition is a new series of images that reflects a resistance, a resilience in the face of Africa’s troubles. In the background, the artist presents an invitation to discover gold in his company, even if all that glitters is not gold.
Victor Mutelekesha is a Zambian artist whose work questions notions of hybridity, diasporic identity and the human condition. His work “The Center Still Holds” is a reference to Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart“.
This fictional tale describes the impact of colonialism on traditional, cultural, artistic and societal uprooting in Africa. In an audio-video montage, Victor Mutelekesha follows up the work of the famous Nigerian writer, demonstrating the persistence of his cultural and traditional values in African regions.
Nyancho NwaNri is a Nigerian artist and documentary photographer who explores African history, traditions and spirituality through her photographic lens. She also tackles themes of ethnic and cultural identity, as well as the continent’s social and environmental issues.
She presents the multimedia work “Here“, a performative visual narrative about an exploration of the alchemy of self. In her performance, she immerses visitors in a journey of self-assessment, cleansing, acceptance and affirmation channeled according to indigenous spiritual traditions centered on Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron, a warrior who symbolizes power, resilience and adaptability.
Harold Offeh is an artist who expresses his art through a variety of media, including performance, video, photography, learning and social arts practice. He often uses humor as a subtle method of confronting the viewer with historical narratives and contemporary culture.
For the exhibition “House of Reasoned Truths“, he proposes a work inspired by an image found in a performance of Renga Moi, a play by Ugandan playwright Robert Serumaga. The image of the playwright’s performance is the starting point for a playful, personified suite. In his work entitled “Two positions“, Offeh explores the power of these images through a series of actions. He then presents a performative work that recontextualizes the positions of the original image by situating himself according to the architecture and landscape.
Minnette Vari‘s art transcends the concept of self and history, exploring the construction of an identity that replaces a troubling past. Having lived through the fall of apartheid and the advent of a new democracy, the artist weaves a story linked to this period of her past, in the hope of recovering what has been lost and reviving forgotten memories. Through her drawings and video works, she often exposes her body as a prey to disfiguring transformation. The female figure that emerges from her creations sometimes appears as an archetype or specter, merging with nature or the concise architecture of modern cities, absorbing or being absorbed by temporality.
In his work entitled “Quake“, Minnette Vari plunges visitors into a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, where collapsed landscapes seem almost abandoned. Only the wandering figures recall the human experience and the nomadic condition shared by all individuals. In this contemporary metropolis, where we catch glimpses of ruined cities, the artist creates a sense of nostalgia in these empty places, which are nonetheless full of information and landmarks.
Tunisian artist Haythem Zakaria explores innovative ways of enriching his images by integrating, grafting and superimposing visual and audio information. He infuses his creations with a Sufi spirituality, using unconventional visual techniques such as glitch, meta-image and cinematographic processes, which guide and involve him in experimenting with matrix and protocol devices.
“The Stone Opera” is his distinctive, hard-hitting artistic approach. A striking work that combines visual experimentation, music and sound documentary in an attempt to assimilate genres, without claiming to be exhaustive. The video captures the viewer and takes them to the edge of the mountain ranges around the town of Redeyef. It offers the sensation of being in communion with the rocky landscape, and the sound and visual details serve to reinforce this depth of union.