STRETCHED: Expanding Notions of Artistic Practice through Artist-led Cultures is a three-year long (2015-2018), Fine Art practice-based research project funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Research Pavilion: Post-Colonial Artist-Organisation in African Regions? 23 Sept, Venice

  SIM Card project  (2015–) by artist Isaac Kariuki. Courtesy of Élise Atangana.

SIM Card project (2015–) by artist Isaac Kariuki. Courtesy of Élise Atangana.

Research Pavilion: Post-Colonial Artist-Organisation in African Regions?

Saturday, September 23, 2017  17:00 to 20:00. Sala del Camino, Venice as part of the 2nd Research Pavilion in Venice (IT).

Post-independence art institutions in many African countries demonstrate a move from Eurocentric-colonial models to decolonial practices. What are the organisational strategies originated by artists in post-colonial Africa? Given art’s ambivalent globalisation and the wish to institute `alternative´ models (self-organisation) outside market-determined and state-sanctioned models, what can we learn from self-organised African contexts?

Post-Colonial Artist-Organisation in African Regions? A Stretched research seminar. Convened by Kjell Caminha and Mick Wilson. With: Amarildo Ajasse, Élise Atangana and Stephanie Baptist.

Download handout here



17.00Welcome: Food and light refreshments.

17.15 Why this question now? Why this question here? Preliminary Research on Self-Organisation in Some African Contexts with Stretched: Mick Wilson & Kjell Caminha.

17.30Here and There: How Can African Art Practitioners Connect the Presence at Venice Art Biennale with the Local Art Scene? Amarildo Ajasse. Followed by discussion.

18.00Kampala Art Biennale: Élise Atangana. Followed by discussion.

18.45Àsìkò: On the Future of Artistic and Curatorial Pedagogies in Africa: Stephanie Baptist. Followed by discussion.

19.30 Closing remarks.


BIOS and ABSTRACTS from invited speakers:

AMARILDO AJASSE earned his master’s degree in sociology at Turin University (IT). For three years, he was part of the team that organised both the first architectural (2014) and art (2015) national pavilions for Mozambique at Venice Biennale. After this great experience, he committed to investigate the art field. In 2016, Amarildo was accepted to attend a PhD program in art history at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, with the working title Why and how are we here? Presence and Representation of Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa Arts at Venice Biennale from 1990 to 2017. His research analyses the reception, display and translation of contemporary African art within the wider context of globalisation. By using cross-disciplinary and comparative case study approaches, it examines the exhibitions and curatorial practices of contemporary African art: not only in the context of Venice Art Biennales but also in other Western venues, including African art’s relationship to alternative spaces and post-conceptual art practices. He is the founder of the Online Archive of the Contemporary African Arts at the Venice Art Biennale and one of the founders of the ARCA:net – Network of Researchers on African Contemporary Visual Arts and Culture.

Here and There: How can African art practitioners connect the presence at the Venice Art Biennale with the local art scene? In recent decades, there has been an increased African presence at the Venice Art Biennale, either through the works of the artists or national pavilions. Ajasse will focus on presenting some projects that he implements as parallel activities to the theoretical dimension of his ongoing PhD research. He will organise his presentation by answering the following questions: Are the exhibitions enough to make Africa being effectively represented at the competitive mosaic of the Venice Art Biennale? What can be done to improve the actual scenario? Why is important to connect Venice attendance to the local art scene? And, how?

ÉLISE ATANGANA is an independent visual art curator and producer. Based in Paris (FR), she approaches her art path via individual and collective experiences. Her interests focus on which physical and virtual mobility, including that of persons, ideas, objects and information, affects our daily lives. Her recent projects are: Seven Hills, conceived for the 2nd edition of Kampala Art Biennale in 2016, presented 25 artists dealing with the mobility shift in the context of Kampala’s phenomenal transformations. In 2015, the exhibition Entry Prohibited to Foreigners at the Havremagasinet, in Boden (SE). In 2014, she co-curated Producing The Common, 11th Dakar Biennale.

Kampala Art Biennalewas established in 2014 by Kampala Arts Trust, a collective of visual and performance art practitioners living and working in public and private spaces within the precinct of Kampala city (UG). It was born out of the need for inclusion faced by artists working on the African continent trying to reach the global art scene. Kampala Art Biennale is afro-centric in nature in that it seeks to promote artists (foreign or native) working on the African continent by creating a vibrant and visible platform. The goal is to expose, educate and create debate about the value of art in society. The Biennale is a part of a sustainable ecosystem and artistic network led by artist-organisations. Since 2001, they have contributed to create the conditions for a whole art cycle that need artists, gallery spaces, dealers, museums, critical writing, auctions and international art events. The 2nd Kampala Art Biennale brought an overview of a modus operandi and constellation of actors. What are the profile and role of the artists involved in the process? What is the mode of organisation? What are the effects in production, distribution, reception of art and conditions for artists? Is the artistic network providing an empirical new model?

STEPHANIE BAPTIST is an independent cultural producer, curator and editor. She lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (US) where she founded the contemporary art gallery and project space, Medium Tings. For over a decade she has collaborated with noted contemporary artists, organisations and individuals. She is the Art and Editorial Director of Àsìkò: On the Future of Artistic and Curatorial Pedagogies in Africa, a publication produced by the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (NG). Previously, Stephanie has served as Program Director for En Foco, a Bronx based non-profit photography organisation dedicated to cultural diversity and as Head of Exhibitions and Public Programs for Tiwani Contemporary art gallery in London (UK). She has edited several publications: Rotimi-Fani Kayode [1955-1989] (2017), Simone Leigh and Njedika Akunyili: I Always Face You Even When It Seems Otherwise (2013), Barbara Walker: As Seen (2013), Barbara Walker: As Seen (2013), Mary Evans: Cut and Paste (2012) and Where We Meet: Cultural Translation and Art in Social Transformation (2012). Stephanie has served as contributing editor and correspondent for online platforms Another Africa and Contemporary And. She is on the Board of Advisors for contemporary art gallery Boys’ Quarters Project Space in Port Harcourt (NG). Stephanie holds an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths University of London.

In 2010, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos started Àsìkò, an innovative programme designed to redress outdated or non-existent artistic and curatorial curricula at tertiary institutions across Africa. Annually from 2010–2016, a cohort of 12-15 emerging African artists and curators joined an international faculty of artists, historians, curators and writers, for a 35-day intensive study in art, curatorial history, methodologies and professional development. The book Àsìkò’: On the Future of Artistic and Curatorial Pedagogies in Africa’ chronicles the six editions of the programme held in (Lagos, Accra, Dakar, Maputo and Addis Ababa) and embodies the multifaceted structure of Àsìkò by interweaving documents specific to each edition, including commissioned essays on alternative strategies of artistic and curatorial practice. The publication explores many themes and issues that have concerned African artists over the last several decades and offers a foundation for debating visual culture, within Africa and ways it can be articulated, presented, documented and written about in the future.


Stretched Team:

Stretched: Expanding Notions of Artistic Practice through Artist-led Cultures is an artistic-research project funded by the Swedish Research Council to enquire into the conditions, problematics and possibilities of artist-organisation. There are three primary researchers involved: Jason E. Bowman, Julie Crawshaw and Mick Wilson. Kjell Caminha works on the project as a coordinator and research assistant. Andreas Engman has contributed to and participated in previous Stretched events.

KJELL CAMINHA is an artist with growing interest in curatorial strategies as a means for furthering decolonial encounters and dialogues within his artistic research and practice. He holds a MFA from Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg (SE), where he lectures in the BFA and MFA: Fine Art Fine Art programmes. He has co-developed and organised several symposia and conferences among them: Genocide Memorialisation: Political Imaginaries and Public Materialities (upcoming 2017); Curating After the Global: Roadmaps to the Future (2017); and Anatomising the Museum (2014-16). Caminha is also the convener of a series of seminars on decoloniality fostering discussion of hospitality practices, diversity and migration and politics, and knowledge production: On Afrophobia: Towards Decolonial Curatorial Approaches (2016) and Practices and Notions of the Migrant Image (2015).

ANDREAS ENGMAN is an artist based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Engman recently received his MFA in Fine Art from Valand Academy where he currently teaches in the BFA programme. Engman’s artistic practice is, through a conceptual approach, invested in performing different modes of institutional critique. Turning towards the performative and the corporeal he is interested in how expanded notions of institutional critique can be informed by explicitly using affective strategies. Recent work includes ‘Let’s Mobilize! What is feminist pedagogy?’ (2016) a three-day investigation into queer and feminist pedagogy together with Rose Borthwick, Kanchan Burathoki, Gabo Camnitzer, Mary Coble and Eva Weinmayr held at Valand Academy and ‘The Institute for Potentiality and Actualization: Taxidermy of Speculative Gestures – a 21 Day Conference’ (2016), a performative conference held for 21 days at Göteborgs Konsthall as part of exhibition Enact (2016). He is currently working on the collaborative research project ‘Afterworks’ together with artists and educators Rose Borthwick and Kjell Caminha – a project that seeks to investigate the potential of self-organisation, collaborative artist-led culture and hybrid practices in the city of Gothenburg.

MICK WILSON is an artist, educator, and researcher based in Sweden and Ireland. He is currently Head of the Valand Academy of Arts, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2012–18), having previously been the founder Dean of the Graduate School of Creative Arts & Media, Ireland (2008–12). He is co-editor-in-chief of PARSEjournal. Edited volumes include: How Institutions Think: Between Contemporary Art and Curatorial Discourse, The MIT Press (2017) with Paul O’Neill and Lucy Steeds; Public Enquiries: PARK LEK and the Scandinavian Social Turn, BDP, (2017) with Giorgiana Zachia et al.; The Curatorial Conundrum, The MIT Press (2016) with Paul O’Neill and Lucy Steeds; Curating Research, Open Editions/De Appel (2014); Curating and the Educational Turn, Open Editions/De Appel (2010) both with Paul O’Neill; and SHARE Handbook for Artistic Research Education, ELIA (2013) with Schelte van Ruiten. Recent projects include: Seminar, BAK (2017); Aesthetics Jam, Taipei (2014); Joyful Wisdom, Rezan Has Museum, Istanbul (2013); The Judgement is the Mirror, Living Art Museum, Reykjavik (2013); Some songs are sung slower, The Lab, Dublin (2013).

This event is organised by Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, as part of the Research Pavilion’s Camino Events series, a cross-artistic program which consists of screenings, concerts, seminars, artist talks, performances and interventions from over 100 artists and artistic-researchers from art universities of Northern Europe.

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