A second edition that stood out for the quality of its artistic programming and curatorial projects
Gosette Lubondo, Imaginary trip 8, Fine art print, 2016. © Gosette Lubondo. Courtesy LAgence a Paris.
With an uptake in attendance compared to 2016 (15,000 visitors), the second edition of AKAA succeeded in introducing a new public of amateurs to the contemporary African arts scene, as well as playing a role in its dynamic.
The quality of the selected works presented by the various galleries impressed both experienced and first-time collectors—the latter discovered the market during the 2016 edition and were willing to make a first purchase at AKAA 2017.
The growing presence of African galleries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia, Angola, Uganda, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco) alongside European and American galleries contributed to a broader overview and understanding of the market.
Gallerists like Joachim Melchers of the Artco Gallery (Germany), reported ‘an even greater financial success than last year’, and Catinca Tabacaru (New York – Harare) declared herself thrilled at ‘the level of institutions and foundations that came to the fair and happy to continue the dialogue with them about the gallery’s programme’. As for the Barnard Gallery (South Africa), participating for the first time at a fair in France, the gallerist said she had been very excited about the prospect of coming to Paris and was convinced by this first experience: ‘in the exceptional setting that is the Carreau du Temple, we not only met collectors and French institutions, but also forged links with new collectors’.
The pictures were shot with my iphone, 3 weeks after the terrorrist attacks I chose to usemy iphone instead of my DSLR canera , to capture people discretely. they don’ t know that they are shot, so their artitudes are natural, as if i was doing a scan of the city. It took me one month to embroider the pictures as i was sick with malaria and also “sick of all this nonsense”.. This series is a way to cope with my own sadness and a way to witness the (denied) traumatism of people living there.
Bassam was my refuge, the place i used to go to unwind and to be by myself at one hour drive from Abidjan. Bassam is also a place full of history, a quiet and peaceful little town. Bassam reminds me of insouciance, my wedding family lunch , all these childhood sunday afternoons i used to spend on this same beach with my loved ones. To me, Bassam was a synonym of happiness, until that day. 3 weeks after the attacks, the atmosphere of the little town changed.. The sadness is everywhere. A “saudade”, some kind of melancholy. Most of the pictures show people by themselves, walking in the streets or just standing, sitting alone, lost in their thoughts. And empty places.
“ça va aller” means “it will be ok” it is a typical expression used by ivorian people for everything, even if they know that it is not going to be ok. This work is a way to address the way ivorian people deal with psychological suffering. In côte d ‘ Ivoire, people don’t discuss their psychological issues, or feelings. A post-traumatic choc is considered as weakness or a mental disease. People don t talk about their feelings, and each conversation is quickly shortened by a resigned ” ça va aller”. The attacks re-opened the mental wounds left by the post electoral war of 2011. Each stitch was a way to recover, to lie down the emotions, the loneliness, and mixed feelings i felt.
Each picture is printed on a cotton canvas, 24 cmx24 cm, hand embroidered with DMC cotton thread.
Many galleries have already confirmed their intention to return to the Fair in 2018.
Certain galleries paid great attention to the scenography of their stand, such as Afriart Gallery / L’Agence à Paris (Uganda / France), Tyburn of London, Ebony of South Africa, ELA – Espaço Luanda Angolan Art, and Galerie 127 of Marrakech.
The galleries Number 8 (Belgium) and Louisimone Guirandou (Ivory Coast), who were participating in AKAA for the first time this year, sold several photographs by David Uzochukwu and Samia Ziadi, and artworks by Nù Barreto and Jean-Servais Somian respectively; 50 Golborne (England) was particularly successful with Joana Choumali’s embroidered photographs; Smith Gallery (South Africa)—returning for the second time with Dale Lawrence, Grace Cross and Banele Khoza—was pleased with the progression in sales by these artists; Circle Art Gallery (Kenya) also recorded some impressive sales with Shabu Mwangi and Jackie Karuti (video), like the First Floor Gallery Harare (Zimbabwe) with Richard Butler Bowdon, Troy Makaza, Helen Teede, and Julio Rizhi, amongst others.
The 60 artists present during the fair developed a strong connection with the public, raising awareness and understanding about the artists and artworks on show.
Guided tours were also organized for the friends (sponsors) of various cultural institutions (Palais de Tokyo, ADIAF, Centre Pompidou, Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac …). The audio guide narrated by the Director of Cultural Programming, Salimata Diop allowed the visitor to learn more about the 32 works on display.
Wole Lagunju, Poise, 2017. Oil on Canvas, 121 x 106cm. © Wole Lagunju Courtesy Wole Lagunju and EBONY CURATED
The City of Paris also took advantage of the occasion and the tribute paid to Ousmane Sow as part of this year’s AKAA to announce their acquisition of a major artwork by the artist.
Reflecting their ambition to showcase designers, KWERK a co-working franchise in Paris, and partner of the AKAA Fair since its creation, launched the Prix Coup de Cœur KWERK (led by director and designer Albert Angel). The prize was awarded to Aga Concept (Espace Neo//FUZZ). This initiative will result in a collaboration creating a collection of dinnerware that will be used in all branches of the KWERK co-working franchise.
AKAA Underground, a new space in the basement level, was extremely popular, especially the coffeediscussions led by the Maison Château Rouge and Lady Skollie, a wall painting artist from South Africa.
Finally, in an effort to allow the public to further explore the Fair and its artists, the audio tour presented by Salimata Diop, can be accessed all year round on the following website: akaafair.com
Victoria Mann, founder and director, and all of the team at AKAA look forward to welcoming you at the next edition of the Fair in November 2018, which promises to be just as surprising and convivial as this year’s event. Fitting terms for an international art fair focused on Africa.
Heymann, Renoult Associées | Agnès Renoult
Marlène Chalvin, email@example.com
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Céline Melon, Director of Communication and Press
+33 (0)6 11 77 45 47 | firstname.lastname@example.org