African Art in Venice Forum

7-8-9 May 2019
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal Venice, Italy


9:30 am - Opening Remarks


Osei Bonsu, Chair, 2019 African Art in Venice Forum

Ilaria Conti, Vice President, African Art Dialogues

Neri Torcello, Founder, African Art in Venice Forum and President, African Art Dialogues

10:00 am - African Art at the Venice Biennale: history, challenges and opportunities⁣

⁣Preceded by a historical overview of the presence of contemporary African art at the Venice Biennale from 1922 onwards, the discussion will focus on key challenges to the expansion of representation of creative practices from the continent in the context of Venice. The panel will also explore the opportunities and creative solutions that have been identified through the years.⁣

Historical Overview and Introduction:⁣ Rikke Jørgensen, Founder, Arts & Globalization Platform⁣


Joël Andrianomearisoa, artist, Madagascar Pavilion ⁣2019

Raphael Chikukwa, curator, Zimbabwe Pavilion⁣ 2019

Emmanuel Dayde, curator, Madagascar Pavilion 2019

Martin Kennedy, curator, Seychelles Pavilion⁣ 2019

Nkule Mabaso, curator, South Africa Pavilion⁣ 2019

Gonçalo Mabunda, artist, Mozambique Pavilion⁣ 2019

Nomusa Makhubu, curator, South Africa Pavilion⁣ 2019

Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, curator, Ghana Pavilion⁣ 2019

Rina Ralay-Ranaivo, curator, Madagascar Pavilion⁣ 2019

Massimo Scaringella, curator, Ivory Coast Pavilion⁣ 2019

Amina Zoubir, artist, Algeria Pavilion⁣ 2019

Moderated by Osei Bonsu, independent curator⁣⁣

Image: Jelili Atiku, Mama Say Make I Dey Go, She Dey My Back, performance at the 57th Venice Biennale, Arsenale, Venice, Italy (Friday May 12 2017). Credit: @andrewesiebo

11:45 am - Africa State of Mind: culture, identity and politics in contemporary African photography⁣

The discussion considers how recent photographic practice from Africa is exploring themes of history, politics, race and gender, as well as interrogating ideas of 'Africanness' through subjective renderings of culture and identity on the continent.


Shiraz Bayjoo, artist

Christine Eyene, independent curator

Paul Goodwin, independent curator

Kiluanji Kia Henda, artist

In conversation with Ekow Eshun, independent curator

Presented in collaboration with New Art Exchange.

Shiraz Bayjoo’s participation in Venice is supported by International Curators Forum (ICF) and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Image: Shiraz Bayjoo, Searching for Libertalia Cabinet Two, 2018, giclee print on Hahnemühle pearl paper. Courtesy of the artist.

1:15 pm - Art and Agency⁣

In today’s increasingly international art world, how can we create new platforms that centre around artists rather than artworks? Organized in partnership with Crane Projects, a multifaceted agency for contemporary African art, Ibrahim Mahama (artist and founder of the project space Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art) and Osei Bonsu (curator and founder of Crane Projects) will discuss the dynamic structures supporting the next generation of artists on the continent.⁣


Ibrahim Mahama, artist

Osei Bonsu, independent curator⁣

Presented in collaboration with Crane Projects⁣.

Image: Ibrahim Mahama, Mallam Atta Market, 2012, from Out of Bounds (Crane Editions, 2015). Courtesy of the artist and Crane Projects.⁣

2:15 pm - Black Archive Alliance: an Italian perspective

Over the past 4 years Black History Month Florence has advanced over 250 events in the city of Florence connected to Blackness and Afro-Descendent cultures. With events ranging from workshops to talks, concerts and cinema, an emphasis has been placed on the curation of contemporary art as a means for developing new language and fostering research within the Italian context.

Presented by Justin Randolph Thompson, Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence

Image: Courtesy of Black History Month Florence.

3:00 pm - Digital Histories in Africa

When talking about technology and its cultural impact, the American-led internet and Silicon Valley are always taken as the global technological standard. This disregards important parallel histories of technological development in different regions across the world, that are shaping the future of digital technologies. Looking at questions of techno-epistemologies, extractivism, algorithmic colonialism and digital activism, artistic practices related to Africa have engaged with technology through a wide spectrum of conceptual and creative methodologies. The panel will address current artistic practices in this field and the related platforms for international research and curatorial presentation.

“[…] now billions of Earthlings carry little bits of Africa around with them in their pockets.”

Benjamin Bratton


Francois Knoetze, artist

Emo de Medeiros, artist

Tabita Rezaire, artist

Arthur Steiner, Programme Manager, Digital Earth, Hivos

Presented in collaboration with Digital Earth.

Image: Emo de Medeiros, Vodunaut #003 (Hyperfeeler), 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

4:45 pm - Media Minerals

Incorporating music, spoken word, and video projection, Larry Achiampong & David Blandy’s performance Media Minerals reflects on how politics of race affect relationships in an age of technology and globalization. The artists have a scripted encounter that relates their personal experiences and geopolitical observations. Their friendship — forged through virtual spaces like video games or WhatsApp — is tested as they consider how the lives of their respective children differ from each other, and what the future may hold for all of mankind. The Media Minerals performance takes the raw materials of the Finding Fanon series into the physical space.


Larry Achiampong, artist

David Blandy, artist

Presented in collaboration with New Art Exchange.

Image: photo by Colin Davison .


9:30 am - Imizuzu


Prof. Sir. Zanele Muholi, visual activist and photographer

Image: Courtesy of Lebo Mashifane.


We regret to inform you that due to unforeseen issues related to international travel, Zanele Muholi will not be able to be in Venice on May 8. Her talk "Imizuzu" will, therefore, be cancelled.

10:45 am - Biennials’ Ecologies in Contemporary African Art⁣

Biennials have become one of the most well-established systems to internationally present curatorial projects. Presenters will inspire a discussion about the relevance of such format within the artistic contexts of African countries, addressing both its possibilities, constraints, and local specificities.⁣

With: ⁣

Sara Alonso Gómez, Curator⁣, Yango Biennale de Kinshasa 2020 | researcher

Sandrine Colard-De Bock, Curator, Lubumbashi Biennale 2019⁣

Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director, The Showroom, London

Christine Eyene, Curator, Casablanca Biennale 2020

Moderated by Skinder Hundal, Director, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK

Presented in collaboration with New Art Exchange.

Image: Courtesy of the Lubumbashi Biennial.

12:30 pm - Funding the Future: how African philanthropy is shaping a new landscape for cultural discourse⁣⁣

Presenters will discuss how the development of non-profit organizations, philanthropic endeavors, and hybrid funding structures in many African countries is providing new space for aesthetic exploration, artistic experimentation and community engagement.⁣⁣

With: ⁣⁣

Teesa Bahana, Director, 32 Degrees East | Ugandan Arts Trust, Kampala, Uganda⁣⁣

Mamou Daffé, Chairperson, African Culture Fund (ACF), Bamako, Mali⁣⁣

Josh Ginsburg, Director, A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa⁣⁣

Bruno Leitão, co-director, Hangar Center for Artistic Research | Head curator FAS, Lisbon, Portugal⁣⁣

In conversation with Damian Nixon, ArtTactic, editor of ‘Africa: Art and Philanthropy in 2019’⁣⁣


Presented in collaboration with ArtTactic⁣⁣.

Image: Street performance during KLA Art 2018 - a public art festival organised by 32 Degrees East in Kampala, Uganda. Credits: Mohammed Ali Kanch⁣⁣.

2:00 pm - Revue Noire (1991-2001): the magazine of contemporary African art

Thirty years ago very few African artists or photographers were known on the international art scene. Revue Noire, the magazine of contemporary African art (1991-2001), radically changed that, giving much needed attention to contemporary creators from Africa and the Diaspora, simultaneously challenging the perceptions of the continent. Roundtable discussion with the original team.


N’Gone Fall, independent curator, art writer, and cultural consultant

Pascal Martin Saint Leon, architect | artistic director, Revue Noire

Simon Njami, writer, independent curator, art critic and essayist

Jean Loup Pivin, architect | director, Revue Noire

In conversation with Riason Naidoo, independent curator and writer


Presented in collaboration with Revue Noire.

Supported by: Institut Français,  Institut Français d'Afrique du Sud (IFAS), Cité internationale des arts, Paris.

Image: Revue Noire #3. Back cover. Photo copyright: Estate of Rotimi Fani-Kayode - Autograph. ⁣


9:30 am - Art Publishing in Africa: beyond the digital era⁣

⁣Faced by high distribution costs and ever-changing logistical challenges, art publications are at risk of extinction worldwide. How does this strive for relevance and sustainability apply to publishing in Africa, and what are the possibilities and obstacles faced by the editors, publishers, and writers in the continent? Is the digital realm the solution to the international publishing crisis, and what role do the formats emerging from the continent have in such production and diffusion of knowledge?⁣


Will Furtado, Deputy Editor, Contemporary And (C&)⁣

Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Co-founder, Reading Zimbabwe⁣

Flurina Rothenberger, Founder, The Nice Magazine⁣

⁣Ntone Edjabe, Co-founder, Chimurenga⁣

In conversation with Anna-Alix Koffi, Founder, something we Africans got⁣


Presented in collaboration with something we Africans got⁣.

Image: courtesy of Reading Zimbabwe⁣.

11:15 am - Redesigning the missing links

What is the effect of the continuing supremacy of the Western art canon on the practice of contemporary African artists? How do contemporary African visual artists familiarise themselves with these issues and what steps do they take to navigate the resulting landscape? Are there examples of development of new canons for the African contemporary art ecosystem?

The panel will present a developmental discussion between three actors from the art world who founded and implemented prominent art projects on the African continent.


Teesa Bahana, Director, 32 Degrees East | Ugandan Arts Trust, Kampala, Uganda⁣⁣

Meriem Berrada, Head of Cultural Projects, Fondation Alliances, Casablanca, Morocco

In conversation with Salimata Diop, independent curator

Presented in collaboration with the Edmond the Rothschild Foundations.

Image: courtesy of Alun [be] Photography.

1:00 pm - Vocabulary of Intermittent Lights: Africa and the Caribbean

Participants will discover how current artistic and curatorial projects are finding new ways to articulate the deep relationships between the African continent and the Caribbean region, fostering new forms of South-South creative collaborations.

"To open new roads,

let the breath of art trace

unexplored paths,

as climbers

struggling with new paths,

letting the experience of the time traveled so far

create wealth and

reverses predatory energies."


Giscard Bouchotte, Curator, Haiti Pavilion 2019

Jenny Feal, artist, Cuba

Sara Alonso Gómez, Co-founder, Calle C | researcher and curator

Albertine Kopp, Head, Caribbean Art Initiative

Gabriele Salmi, Co-founder, Calle C

Presented in collaboration with Calle C and Caribbean Art Initiative.

Image: ‘Kinkwelele’ by Richard Kaumba, courtesy of Calle-C and Richard Kaumba.

2:30 pm - Focus Sudan: looking ahead

This session will discuss the recent and current developments of political and cultural activism through graphics arts and public engagement in the context of Sudan.


Khalid Wad Albaih, artist

Alaa Satir, artist

Presented with the generous support of Salah Elmur.

Image: courtesy of Ahmed Mahmoud.

3:30 pm - Making Venice Count: strategies and actions from Africa for Africa

Participants will discuss the creative strategies and strategic actions that need to occur at the local level to ensure that participating with a national pavilion at the Venice Biennale creates a sustainable impact on the economy and infrastructure of the represented country and a strong relevance for its art sector.


Valerie Kabov, Editor at Large, Art Africa Magazine | Founder, First Floor Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe

Frank Kilbourn,  Executive Chairperson, Strauss & Co, South Africa

Janine Gaëlle Dieudji,  Exhibitions Director, Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech, Morocco

Moderated by Hannah O’Leary,  Director, Head of Modern & Contemporary African Art, Sothebys, London, UK

Image: Miriro Mwandiambira’s performance Try to adore me, no?, 2018, Harare. Copyright First Floor Gallery, Harare and the artist.

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