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This year, AKAA welcomes five Special Projects. These exhibits hold a prominent place in the cultural programming of AKAA, whose goal is the development of cultural initiatives that contribute to increase the visibility of artists in Africa and beyond.

AA Newsletters 2016 Oct10 AKAA1Teddy Mazina, Danse Workshop, Bwagiriza camp, Burundi, 2014. Image courtesy of AKAA.

Created in 2009, African Artists for Development (AAD) is a non-governmental organization who initiate, develop and support the action of African artists committed to community-based micro development projects. For AKAA, AAD presents the project Refugees on the Move, through the eyes of photographers Teddy Mazina and Nyaba Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso.

AAD was founded with a strong conviction in mind: the commitment of contemporary African artists to development projects is one of the surest means of achieving social recognition, as well as one of the best guarantees of success for a sustainable African future. AAD develops, supports, and initiates community development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa by associating an African artists to each project.

Since 2011, ADD has conceived of bringing dance to refugee camps in Sub-Saharan Africa through its programme Refugees on the Move. This journey emerged from the intuition that dance is a means of achieving social and cultural meditation, and it is driven by a radical new approach to development. The Refugees on the Move program demonstrates the admirable natural ability of dance to achieve intra- and interpersonal communication.

Launched in partnership with the UNHCR, the dance workshops have three main objectives: to reduce violence within refugee camps, to contribute towards rebuilding the self-confidence of refugees, and to increase the dialogue – through dance and body language – between refugees and their neighbouring populations.

Salia Sanou, one of this programme’s choreographers, is on tour presenting his performance “Du Desir d’Horizons”, which is inspired from his experiences in refugee camps in Burkina Faso.

AA Newsletters 2016 Oct10 AKAA2David Lynch, American Hieroglyphics, 2010. Lithography, 64 x 91 cm. © Germain Noubi. Image courtesy of AKAA and Bandjoun Station.


Located in the highlands of western Cameroon and founded by artist Barthélémy Toguo, Bandjoun Station is a cultural nonprofit site, which offers a permanent space for artist residencies. It is also a free creative space for support for projects and artists. This is a device to build a new relationship with the artistic teams and invent a professional swap space to support local and international artistic production. This device is designed to work on the production of visual arts to performing arts in the context of a service both educational and artistic. 

For the AKAA Art Fair 2016, Bandjoun Station will show the project Walk on the Moon, which is a summary of its artistic and cultural activities, summarizing the works that have been performed and exhibited in this structure, with its different editions of books, post cards and other objects. In addition, a flash will be done on its agricultural activities with the appearance of “Bandjoun Station Coffee” 100% Arabica coffee, roasted and ground in Cameroon.

AA Newsletters 2016 Oct10 AKAA3Girma Bertha, patchwork from different artworks. Image courtesy of Girma Berta, Addis Fine Art and AKAA.


The Getty Images grant was launched in 2015 to support the work of photographers who use Instagram’s open global platform to share stories about underrepresented issues and communities. Instagram and Getty Images are presenting at AKAA, Girma Berta‘s project: Moving Shadows.

“With my work on Instagram, I want the world to look into the eyes of a face from Addis Ababa, the city where I was born and raised.” — Girma Berta (@gboxcreative)

Girma Berta is a 26-year-old photographer, designer, and artist from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His photographic approach incorporates cut outs of street photography extracted from mobile phone images and isolated against digitally created backdrops — with the entire creative process, from capture to editing, to publication, produced within his mobile device. His project, Moving Shadows, which explores the streets of his native city, received a 2016 Getty Images Instagram grant, with which he intends to continue his exploration of Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia. The Getty Images grant was launched in 2015 to support the work of photographers who use Instagram’s open, global platform to share stories about underrepresented issues and communities, and in 2016 it expanded its scope to include creative visual approaches outside the conventional parameters of documentary photography.

The Getty Images Instagram Grant has supported and honoured the work of photographers from Australia, Bangladesh, Brasil, Georgia, India, Iran, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Uruguay. Girma Berta is the first grant recipient from the African continent.

AA Newsletters 2016 Oct10 AKAA4Chris Saunders, detail of The Perfect Storm – Soweto, 2013. Image courtesy of AKAA.


Nataal is a new editorial voice celebrating contemporary African art, fashion, music and society from a global perspective. It aims to support image-makers and storytellers by giving them a world-class platform through which to share their work. For AKAA Nataal presents a special curation of new photography by a selection of its contributing artists including Andrew Dosunmu, Chris Saunders, Cyndia Harvey, Gabrielle Kannemeyer, Nadine Ijewere and Travys Owen. Together their images use the language of portrait, fashion and beauty photography to reflects upon themes of self-representation that are shaping the continent’s creative energies today and tomorrow.

AA Newsletters 2016 Oct10 AKAA5Peter Mabeo and Patricia Urquiola, Kika Stool for Mabeo Furniture (Botswana), 2009. Designed for and produced by Mabeo Furniture in Gaborone, Botswana.


The 21st century is putting African design on the map. Major infrastructure projects and entrepreneurial endeavours are providing demand for architects, industrial designers, and urban planners. Firms in New York are competing for sites in Gaborone, Botswana, pushing the boundaries of the field and winning competitive awards. At the Venice Biennale, a top award is given to an expat redefining life in Lagos, Nigeria from Amsterdam, Holland.

Design firms are licensing African architects’ designs for office furniture in law firms and accounting offices around the world. Of course, many of the best concepts on the continent are only that—imaginative, and may never be realised. But, it is in that light that ideas and notions of what Africa means continue to change.

At its core, design surveys society and proposes new ideas. Whether it is through city planning, fashion design, or social development, design builds on what came before and tests new ideas of what could be.  To a concept… is a look at theoretical drawings, timeless architectures, and even tangible furniture that collectively arrive at a new and changing idea of Africa.

This exhibit sets out to celebrate contemporary design from Africa. Aaron Kohn, director of the Museum of African Design, Johannesburg, and guest curator for this edition will present an exhibition exploring the dialogue between design and architecture.

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