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Bikoka Art Project, a new initiative developed by art historian and curator Christine Eyene, dedicated to supporting creative and professional opportunities for young people and women in the field of contemporary art

The initiative is set to launch on Friday, the 11th of February 2022, with the project kicks off with ‘Portrait of a Community – Features of a Land’, a photography exhibition by Cameroonian artist Yvon Ngassam, and ‘Digital Africa – Lolodorf’ a video art programme featuring Thando Mama (South Africa), Nono Motlhoki (South Africa), Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann (Kenya-Germany) and Mohamed Thara (Morocco-France).

© Yvon Ngassam

‘Portrait of a Community – Features of a Land’ is the first phase of a new commission by Yvon Ngassam. This exhibition presents portraits of inhabitants of Lolodorf – a south province of Cameroon located in the Ocean division –, everyday scenes, and landscapes captured by Ngassam during a first visit in August 2021.

The exhibition opens with portraits of local patriarchs whose gaze plunges us into local knowledge, as well as the history and living memory of Lolodorf. To these are added landscapes showing the verdant nature of the region, architectures inherited from German (1884-1916) and French (1916-1960) colonisation, or even more abstract images revealing isolated shapes. The dynamism of human activity is represented through market and street scenes, as well as nocturnal wanderings.

Echoing Ngassam’s photographs, a series of archive images will be exhibited. These will be the topic of further research into the colonial history of Lolodorf.

Beyond the city as a photographic subject, this project also aims to foster local talents and give inhabitants the opportunity to reflect on questions of photographic representation though portraiture or one’s direct environment. To this end, Yvon Ngassam will give a photographic workshop to a group of young people from Lolodorf. The images produced will be presented as part of Cameroon’s Youth Day.

In addition to the exhibition will also take place ‘Digital Africa – Lolodorf’, a video art event featuring works by Thando Mama (South Africa), Nono Motlhoki (South Africa), Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann (Kenya-Germany) and Mohamed Thara (Morocco-France). Their works also address questions related to personal and collective history through narration, landscape and architecture. ‘Digital Africa’ will take place on the opening day.

‘Portrait of a Community – Features of a Land’ and ‘Digital Africa – Lolodorf’ are curated by Christine Eyene assisted by Yves-Xavier Ndounda, and organised in collaboration with Lolodorf City Council.

Bikoka Art Project is located in the quiet and green area of Bikoka (Lolodorf) on a vaste rural site that will evolve into an artists, curators and art writers residency, an exhibition space, an art library, and a sculpture garden. Its activities will include artists commissions, workshops, young talents programmes, exhibitions and performances. While the first collaborations will focus on Cameroonian artists the residencies and exhibitions will progressively include international artists. The 2022 programme will be announced in the coming months.

‘Portrait of a Community – Features of a Land’ will be on view from the 11th until the 25th of February 2022. ‘Digital Africa – Lolodorf’ will be taking place on the opening day of Yvon Ngassam’s exhibition. For more information, please visit eye.on.art

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