In the wake of opening up to different narratives through intimate and personal works, while staging the predominant stories, creating a counter-history conveyed by the pluralism of individual normal narratives at the FRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine Méca in Bordeaux from February to November 2021, as part of the Women’s Focus of the Africa 2020 cultural season coordinated by N’Goné Fall for the French Institute, the exhibition « Memoria : récits d’une autre Histoire » will be on display from April 7 to August 21, 2022 at the Museum of Contemporary Cultures Adama Toungara in Abidjan. It was organized as part of the itinerancy project, which aims to rediscover contemporary creation from Africa and its diasporas, while introducing talented artists from Africa and around the world to share their creations with the public.
The exhibition « Memoria : récits d’une autre Histoire » will present in African lands works of artists whose work is rarely exhibited on the African continent, such as Georgina Maxim with her textile installations, Na Chainkua Reindorf with her textile and beadwork installations, Enam Gbewonyo with her textile installations or Tuli Mekondjo with his paintings and video.
This exhibition will also highlight works by world-renowned artists such as Joana Choumali with her photography and or textile embroidery, or emerging artists such as Carine Mansan with her installation and sculpture, Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien with her installations and photography, Myriam Mihindou with her video performance, Gosette Lubondo with her photographs, Josèfa Ntjam with her videos and textile installation, Selly Raby Kane with her 3D videos, LaFalaise Dion with her video performance, Rachel Marsil with her paintings and Valérie Oka with her drawings and paintings, which together encapsulate the possibility of an aggregated memory made of a bunch of stories, histories, questionings and encounters dissipated in our individual, particular, intimate memories. A thought here that reveals itself through the attempts to send us back to the reconstitution of a typical whole, a widespread whole, which recharges our perspective on contemporary creation in Africa and its diasporas.
The exhibition « Memoria : récits d’une autre Histoire » questions us on the word and memory that are neglected, killed, eradicated or shortened, to bring to light a counter-account, to make plural histories coincide and to discover the implicit that turns into a crisis to which each of the artists responds, so that their works are distinguished by their desire to uproot the limits of art, to unite the elsewhere and to show the variety of our individual and ultimately collective histories.
The works selected for this exhibition constitute an excursion that reverberates with a demystified exploration of parts of history and accepted ways of thinking about the African continent, as well as the way certain imaginaries are currently operating, particularly in the areas of finance and resource reallocation.
Through this variety, the works testify to the seriousness of the artists’ creative act and offer the power of their history embedded in their changing geologies and time. By scrutinizing the components of our reasoning, « Memoria : récits d’une autre Histoire » hopes to open a discourse on our ability to restore our insight, pay attention to diverse histories, and address our thought processes for a similarly formed future, where our memories, inner voices, and unconscious are finally reconciled and appeased.
« Memoria : récits d’une autre Histoire » : a triple-pivot journey
From the intimate to the universal
The main section of the exhibition focuses on the different means used by artists to discover, from their own encounters or from clues, a set of memories.
Zimbabwean artisan Georgina Maxim‘s memory works, heterogeneous material pieces linked personally to people and their memories, will be presented, as well as Namibian artist Tuli Mekondjo‘s meaningful, illusory canvases, in which plant themes, seeds, and subtleties of authentic photographs from Namibia’s public heritage are interwoven.
The works of Ghanaian artist Enam Gbewonyo, previously exhibited in France, are a highlight of the exhibition. It is the “flesh-colored” nylon load, a private and common item, that the artist decides to use as an image of imbalance and invisibilization. This equivalent imagery of the pantyhose is organized by the Franco-Gabonese Myriam Mihindou who, with her recorded performance, La Robe envolée, transmits to us through speech and through her body, a narrative of incredible power, charged with verse.
Joana Choumali‘s embroidered photos call for contemplation and perception of nature to track down comfort, strength and confidence. Rachel Marsil, through a brilliant canvas, loaded with cherished memories, pulls the strings of memory and family ties. Finally, the excruciating experience of life finds its importance in the flow of the strange and the rigorous in the intimate work of Carine Mansan.
When memory becomes political
The second section of the exhibition interrogates the fundamental critique of memory: how artists use it as a strategy of reprobation, particularly in issues related to orientation, the representation of the black body, or the compensation of cultural goods.
For photographer Gosette Lubondo, the obligation of memory allows her to freely analyze a part of the pioneering history of her country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through the series « Imaginary Trip II », which quietly shows the incapacity of the clues of the past, the artist finds a way to make us glimpse the conceivable resurgence of another set of experiences.
It is also through the imagery of the cowrie shell, which observes the grandeur and sacredness in LaFalaise Dion‘s creations, that the visitor is invited to reflect on the significance of protecting cultural heritage. Valerie Oka, in a comparable methodology, expresses the need to restore the importance, energy and capacity of the continent’s items, scattered in the world’s museums. Behind the scenes, it is also their decontextualization and their situation with a basic object of embellishment that the artist censures.
Fabulations, fictions and other imaginary
Finally, the third and last part of the course, lifts the veil on an inventive, frank, solid future of an expected and celebrated memory.
A limitless exchange between art, science, new advances and a form of social activism, fertile ground for the composition of creative and subversive stories. These new dialects concocted by the Franco-Cameroonian Josèfa Ntjam, who gives an account of modernity in each of her installations, photomontages or plastic manifestations.
The Ghanaian Na Chainkua Reindorf who through sculptural works consolidates natural materials, or the Senegalese Selly Raby Kane, who imagines a fantasized African capital in his 3D film « The other Dakar ».
Finally, the guide as a vehicle for projection into the past and future, as proposed by Marie-Claire Manlanbien in arrangements rich in components, materials and items emblematic of the cultural heritage of the Ivory Coast. Considering these cards as open books, the visitor is projected into his favorite transience.
« Memoria : récits d’une autre Histoire », is open until August 21, 2022 at the Museum of Contemporary Cultures Adama Toungara in Abidjan.