The group exhibition “Art at War” offers a unique opportunity to delve into the world of contemporary African art and explore the visual representations of past and present conflicts and their effects on individuals and society. On view through May 13, 2023, this exhibition brings together artists from Africa and its diaspora who create in a world of perpetual conflict.
Saturday April 22 was a memorable day at the exhibition, with two live performances by Ahmed Kamel at 3pm and 5pm, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Madiha Sebbani, curator of the exhibition, at 4pm. This was a unique opportunity to meet the artists and explore their singular visions of war through art.
Each artist in this group exhibition has been exposed to, if not affected by, war. The need to understand the justifications for war, the sense of belonging and the desire to contextualize inevitably lead to a persistent disillusionment with the conflict. Each artist approaches the trauma of war from a unique perspective, but it is clear that collective memory is inherently skewed, influenced by various internal and external biases. Despite this, the memory felt is very real.
“Art at War” proposes a dialogue between works that, on the one hand, invite deep reflection on the repercussions of war and, on the other, evoke memories in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. The exhibition offers a captivating visual experience where viewers can immerse themselves in the world of the artists and confront the reality of conflict through their unique eyes.
As King Hassan II of Morocco so aptly put it in a 1989 broadcast, “The peace process to which we all aspire will not necessarily result from the mere signing of a treaty or agreement. It must become a matter of our daily lives, so that peace can take root and endure and be carried by all. We must therefore give peace all the necessary care, preserve it and promote it.” These words resonate powerfully through the works on display, reminding us that peace is a collective responsibility.
As a visitor, you are invited to question your relationship to war. Are you a friend or do you carry a motive for discord? Are you a passive spectator or an engaged actor? The exhibition “Art at War” confronts you with these essential questions and invites you to look beyond the mirror to better understand the complex realities of our world in conflict.
The artists in this exhibition remind us that violence breeds new forms of suffering, but they also invite us to believe in the power of art to inspire hope and open up paths to peace. Their art transcends borders and prejudices, creating a powerful visual language that challenges us to question our beliefs and rethink our commitment to conflict resolution.
In this exhibition, the works of artists Aboudia (Côte d’Ivoire), Manga Lulu Williams (Cameroon), Paul Ndema (Uganda), Kofi Bright Awuyah (Ghana), Mohamed Saïd Chair (Morocco), Madiha Sebbani (Morocco/UK), Ahmed Kamel (Egypt/Germany), Bernard Brand (South Africa), Olamilekan Abatan (Nigeria), Omar Ba (Senegal), and Kirubel Melke (Ethiopia) complement and respond to each other, creating a compelling visual dialogue.
Through their creations, these artists confront us with the brutal reality of war and its devastating consequences on individuals and societies. Their works reflect suffering, resilience, the quest for justice and hope for a better future. They invite us to look beyond the surface and explore the depths of the human experience in the face of violence.
Contemporary African art is a powerful testimony to the complex and nuanced reality of war. It reminds us that behind every conflict there are people, stories, pain and hope. Artists use their creativity to give voice to the muted and to draw our attention to realities that are often ignored or minimized.
By visiting the “Art at War” exhibition, we are invited to be active witnesses, to listen to the stories told by the artists and to reflect on our role in promoting peace. We are called to question preconceptions, challenge dominant narratives, and consider alternative solutions for building a more just and peaceful world.
“Art at War” is more than just an exhibition of contemporary African art. It is a call to action, an invitation to engage in the construction of a future where war will have no place. By embracing the diversity of artistic perspectives presented, we can find inspiration to promote dialogue, mutual understanding and compassion.