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The African Artists’ Foundation encourages the expansion of African art on its continent and beyond – organising exhibitions, festivals and residencies working to expand awareness of known and unknown African artists. Two new exhibitions focus on raising the voices of contemporary African Art through regenerative co-production.

Left Samson Bakare Dreams and Everything Beyond, 2022; Right Sarfo Emmanuel Annor, Freedom, 2021, Courtesy of African Artists' Foundation
LEFT: Samson Bakare, Dreams and Everything Beyond, 2022. RIGHT: Sarfo Emmanuel Annor, Freedom, 2021. Courtesy of African Artists’ Foundation.

Lagos-based African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), established in 2007, announces two new exhibitions opening in August 2022. The AAF organises a variety of exhibitions, both locally and internationally, festivals, and educational activities and community outreach programs to drive social change as its core ambition. Through their programming, the AAF supports emerging and established artists in Africa cultivating and promoting contemporary African art production. ‘Shout Plenty’ on view from the 13th of August until the 1st of October, 2022, is a group exhibition featuring over 30 artists from across Africa, taking place at the AAF headquarters in Lagos in collaboration with Alliance Française. ‘Dig Where You Stand’ on view from the 26th of August until the 2nd of October, 2022, marks the first exhibition of a traveling show, taking place in several locations across Africa. The announced locations include: Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Tamale, Ghana; The African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) Lagos, Nigeria; White Cube, Lusanga, DR Congo; Palais de Lomé, Togo and Hangar Centre, Lisbon, Portugal. 

Both exhibitions underline the AAF’s mission to develop and promote contemporary African art through thought-provoking concepts of cultural rebirth. 

‘Shout Plenty’

The group exhibition nurtures a dialogue between the individual experience and collective memory as a means of problem-solving generational distress. Seeking to build a story interwoven with distinctive voices, the curators gathered artists across different mediums to deliver a unifying message that nevertheless gives value to individual realities. Taking its name from the revolutionary and provocative Fela Kuti’s 1986 LP I Go ‘Shout Plenty’, the exhibition similarly challenges collective struggles through the experience of artmaking and interventions. Pondering the various ways freedom and voice echo through a collective experience, ‘Shout Plenty’ gives agency to the interior lives of multiple artists, and by extension their communities, crafting a powerful means of protest. Alongside imagination and creative thinking, these artistic interventions produce a unique representation and understanding of socio-political shortcomings of generations. With artists such as Ayogu Kingsley, Isshaq Ismail, Audrey d’Erneville and more, the exhibition studies how art can function as a powerful and revolutionary force to challenge institutionalised systems of control. 

‘Dig Where You Stand’ 

‘Dig Where You Stand’ explores the regenerative potential of art within the region and its diasporas, offering a new model of engagement with the questions of decolonisation, restitution, and repatriation, both in the art world and the broader economy on the African continent. Cultivating the reformative potential of art across the region by placing an emphasis on travel, migration and (dis)placement, the exhibition is shifting the decolonial paradigm away from Western museums towards a location-specific, solution-oriented approach, leaving behind a toolkit in each location for commencing regenerative economic processes. The artists and local communities explore the economies of the colonial systems that have historically marginalised vulnerable communities and find new methodologies in the art world, which reverse its value systems and return agency to exploited communities on the African continent. Featuring the works of Ibrahim Mahama, Renzo Martens and The Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) among others, the exhibition curated by Azu Nwagbogu aims to promote contemporary African opus by facilitating a cultural exchange and contributing to communities with ideas rooted in liberation from the ongoing extractive processes in the economy.

Left Zanele Muholi Muzane I, 2019; Right Zanele Muholi, Bester, 2019, Courtesy of African Artists' Foundation
LEFT: Zanele Muholi, Muzane I, 2019. RIGHT: Zanele Muholi, Bester, 2019. Courtesy of African Artists’ Foundation.

Reflecting on both exhibitions, Artistic Director Azu Nwagbogu states that: 

“Shout Plenty represents an expression of the exuberant modes of art making through contemporary image making, encompassing broader contemporary visual culture in fashion, media, sound, music and photography. It spotlights the artists identified as change makers using their practice to bring multiple discourses around social justice and fairness.”

“Dig Where You Stand symbolises a monumental shift in the ongoing cultural conversation around decoloniSation, restitution, and repatriation through the facilitation of pan-African artistic exchange and promotion of local solutions. Connecting key artistic practices from across the African continent and internationally, the exhibition maintains its exclusive modality, engaging artists interested in a circularity of economy around the art world and exhibition making.”

Continuing their programming after a decade of recogniSing the artistic potential of its community and actively cultivating it to reach its full potential, the AAF has produced and curated a variety of projects that echo a strong cultural landscape of contemporary African art. In 2010, reflecting the organiSation’s commitment to engage the community and promote its artists. The first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria, LagosPhoto was founded. The annual flagship event’s main goal is to establish a community for contemporary photography uniting local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities across all of Africa.

Additionally 2022 exhibitions and events include: LagosPhoto 2022 Festival, Artist Residencies, including French Artist Delphine Dénéréaz, and another solo exhibition presenting the work French-Algerian Artist Yassine Mekhnache. For information, please visit AAF.

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