The African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) announces the second edition of the nomadic exhibition “Dig Where You Stand – From Coast: Seke“. Until December 31, 2023, an astronomical number of works will be exhibited at Togo’s first major contemporary art museum, Lomé Palace , the venue decided to host this major event for contemporary African art. This exhibition represents a unique opportunity to explore the reforming potential of art in Africa and its diasporas.
The “Dig Where You Stand – From Coast: Seke” exhibition follows the unexpected success of the first edition of “Dig Where You Stand“, which took place in Ghana in 2022. The AAF, a non-profit organization based in Lagos, Nigeria, took the initiative of organizing this second edition in order to further reflect on the repercussions of colonial systems in African coastal cities. Through the multitude of works on display at the exhibition, art will be used as a restorative tool to analyze the effects of colonialism and foster new approaches to decolonization, restitution and repatriation on the African continent. This major event for contemporary African art will highlight the creativity and commitment of African artists in building a post-colonial future.
The exhibition “Dig Where You Stand – From Coast: Seke” will highlight contemporary artists’ commitment to their communities and their desire to escape linear systems.Organized by curator Rosemary Esinam Damalie, Executive Director and Workshop Coordinator at the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Tamale, Ghana, the exhibition will be held in Togo’s first major contemporary art museum, as well as in various satellite venues in Lomé.The exhibition will feature over 166 works of art in a variety of artistic media, including photography, installations, painting, video, sculpture and more. These works will be created by new and old artists who have already participated in the first edition of the touring exhibition.
This year’s edition will feature such distinguished artists as Bright Ackwerh, Sika Akpalo, Michael MacGarry, Renzo Martens & CATPC, Joana Choumali, Date Kodjo Amouzou, Dodji Efoui, Camille Tété Azankpo, Victor Ehikhamenor,Tessi Kodjovi, Kongo Astronauts, Kugbe Koffi Apelete (KUKOFF), Kwami Da costa, Leopold Ankude Kossi Krampah (LAKA), Zanele Muholi, Thierry Tomety, Jerry Doe-Orlando, Atisso Goha, Chris Parker Edzordzi Sefogah (MEGBORNA) and Hodin Senyon.The exhibition organizers are fully committed to the realization of contemporary art projects, in collaboration with these artists who share their commitment to their communities. They seek to promote art forms that escape the constraints of linear systems of control.
The exhibition “Dig Where You Stand – From Coast to Coast: Seke” is a symbolic and metaphorical exploration of the return to Africa. The word “Seke“, which means “anchor” in the Ewe/Eʋegbe language, is used as a unifying symbol to link Lomé, Togo, to other Ewe-speaking countries, answering the call for African unity. The exhibition is inspired by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a pan-African leader and the first president of independent Ghana, who called for African unity and liberation. It explores the themes of travel, displacement, migration and work, which are realities experienced by many Africans throughout history. Through visual arts, design and installations, the exhibition presents the work of African artists with unconventional perspectives. It offers a multifaceted vision of the African continent, highlighting its cultural richness, complex history and contemporary issues. The exhibition also addresses the ongoing dialogue on repatriation and restitution, underlining the importance of preserving and promoting African heritage.
To facilitate access to the various sections of the exhibition, mobile photographic presentations, film screenings and workshops will be held outside the Lomé Palace . Texts, subtitles and recordings will be translated into Ewe to enable participation by the local community. However, the bulk of the exhibition will take place inside the Museum of Contemporary Art, a symbolic location chosen primarily for its relationship with the former colonial power, and which strongly supports the exhibition’s commitment to decolonization through the restorative power of art.
Initially conceived as a simple exhibition, “Dig Where You Stand” now appears as the beginning of an invigorating cultural experience whose aim is to explore the use of art in decolonial model change, outside the framework of Western museums. Focusing on themes of travel, migration and (dis)placement, artists and local communities are examining the economies of colonial systems that once marginalized vulnerable communities. They also seek new methodologies in art to create a toolbox for engaging regenerative economic processes.
“Dig Where You Stand” will continue its journey to other locations across Africa, from Benin to Abidjan to Dakar, Senegal, between 2024 and 2026. This geographic expansion will enable the exhibition to reach a wider audience and continue to provoke discussion and reflection on post-colonial issues and the valorization of African art.