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Boda Boda Lounge Project

BODA BODA LOUNGE PROJECT From Space (Scope) to Place (Position)


BODA-BODA LOUNGE


BODA BODA LOUNGE PROJECT From Space (Scope) to Place (Position)


Editor | Euridece Kala Editorial Design | Robert Machiri Copy Editor | Achal Prabhala The content in this publication is under creative commons license that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work.

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Contents Introduction 4 By Euridice Kala Video Art Practice Essay by Portia Malatjie and intervention by Dineo Seshee Bopape

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On Censorship Essays by Alex Lyons and Mthabisi Phili And a Response by Vincent Bezuidenhout

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Artists on Movement Essays by Ezra Wube and Erick Msumanje

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On Sharing Content Essay by Patrick Mudekereza

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Reflection from here[video art] Essays by Jude Anogwih and Shehab Awad Interview by Elizabeth Giorgis

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Failures Essay co-written by Euridice Kala and Molemo Moiloa

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Introduction By Euridice Kala “Why Video Art? Well, why not?” – Nástio Mosquito Over the years, moving across the continent has become an impossible task for many Africans. In parallel, forms of Pan-Africanism encourage the exploration of African identity across culture and the arts. For many Africans on the continent and from the diaspora, crossing barriers through a space that extends over thirty million square kilometers (including adjacent islands) has become an important task, in order to bridge the gaps that were violently created in the past. What a project like the Boda Boda Lounge does is to propose novel ways to approach the same question, using the artistic process to respond to questions of travel, acknowledging the politics involved in the different contexts it plug itself into. This publication is a continuum of reflections on a diversity of highlighting moments during the conceptualization – and later display – of the Boda Boda Lounge. This publication grapples with wide-ranging issues, from censorship, video art education, to country perspectives around contemporary life and art, as well as further considerations on notions of failure and success – most with very specific contextual background. Time-based media surged in the western art world in the mid-1970s as a revolutionary medium at a time when the practice of art was mainly reserved for concrete, object-based aesthetics. Included in this new expression were video, performance, multimedia, sound and later, digital art. This media arrived at a point when artists were questioning and countering art practice as whole − its finality as well as its permanence within the walls of the institutions that were responsible for housing these narratives. On the African continent, the medium was adopted by addressing other aspects of practice and contemporary life, with artists like Cameroonian video artist Goddy Leye who began to use the medium as an experimental tool in the early 1990s. Video art has since been reserved to a handful of artists who may have had access to the medium through higher institutions of learning, which in turn removed the immediacy of the medium in contemporary African art practice – an immediacy that is largely linked to alternative pedagogy; to quote Paulo Freire1 , “the dialectics involved in reaching an articulation of liberation, can only be reached through both reflection on one’s position and actions−across the different spectrums.” When searching for historical placement for time-based media− video art in particular−one may be able to trace many lines of thought through Leye’s career path that bear relational intersection with the Boda Boda Lounge project.

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This is why, as affirmed earlier, the pedagogy of the oppressed cannot be developed or practiced by the oppressors. It would be a contradiction in terms if the oppressors not only defended but actually implemented a liberating education. Freire, Paulo, “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION • Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos, NY London p. 53

Introduction


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Leye was the founder of Art Bakery in Douala (Cameroon) 2. Of his projects, the one that had the most critical impact is likely to be a year-long research project called the “Exitour as a Rhizome” (2006), in which Leye and other artists based at Art Bakery embarked on a trip from Douala, Cameroon to Dakar, Senegal. The project consisted of a road trip across west Africa outlining mobility− translating into movements−across different African countries. It challenged the artist to reflect in new spaces, to think about contemporary African art, and what it meant to take people around the West African nations the project crossed. And in a holistic fashion, what “Exitour as a Rhizome” does is provide us with the tools to access and theorize this approach − and (un)willingly place agency within the medium for our specific context. Leye’s approach was representative of his reflective and action-prone work in which the artist sprang between intense spaces for reflection – and spaces for actiovn – across widening geographies. By acknowledging that African art practice could be an ephemeral continuum of thought, rather than a halted representation of African narratives, Leye may have positioned himself in a space that rendered object-based art a passive way to engage with contemporary ideas, a way which removed the responsibility from the artist to challenge concepts and ideas just by allocating value to the aesthesis. A way, thus, removed from representations of the African narrative. Leye’s group worked with many artists, and conducted video workshops and small public interventions across the four African cities they travelled through. The artists they worked with were at that point engaged with traditional forms of art-making, “Exitour as a Rhizome” disturbed this space, allowing a new space for artists to question their practice and engage new ways of challenging their practice. The establishment of spaces such as VAN Lagos, and the emergence of video art practioners including Goddy Leye – and later, Nigerian sound and video artist Emeka Ogboh and Cameroonian multimedia artist Em’kal Eyongakpa (who graduated from the same institution as Leye) − marks a point of departure, enabling artists to step out of borders, and exceed limitations. Perhaps then, we can engage with this poignant leap as a point of agency, claiming a historicity to contemporary video art practice on the continent by placing this project in a position of paradigm-shifter, and further claiming it as a catalyzer for an opening, while still being conscious of the timid acceptance of the medium by artists on the continent. This is the backdrop of the Boda Boda Lounge project: a continuum of Art Bakery’s approach to art practice on the continent, by constituting an agency around video art and the creation of relational imagery. The Boda Boda Lounge project stems from a larger narrative called PAN!C3 – the Pan African Network of Independent Contemporaneity – that concerns itself with researching novel ways for contemporary practice across the African continent to enable the movement of ideas, people and art on the continent. The aim of PANIC! was to employ cost-effective resources that enable the sharing of content and ideas across

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Art Bakery in Bonendale, Doula, an incubator for alternative reflection and production by emergent creators in the fields of visual, video, installation and performance art.

3 http://panicplatform.net/

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different spaces and people, stimulating the establishment of a network of people with vested interests in manifesting a project such as Boda Boda Lounge. This was done through a series of collaborative processes that were sensitive enough to afford each individual space a moment to rationalize their freedoms within the limits of the conceptual framework of the project and their individual contexts. The Boda Boda Lounge project posits agency on the curatorial frame by relating moments of brokerage between critical spaces as parallel spaces, to the way audiences continue the process of both engaging with video (visuals) and narratives through the television set, at the same time allowing for a kind of movement to occur between imaginary lines. After all, African families who have access to a television have always had ways to travel across the imaginary lines of time and space. The works that the project received in response to the curatorial brief mirrored how under-developed video art practice is on the continent. This is due to many factors, but in large part, it reflects an under- and in many cases over- educated flank of artists (mostly working in traditional media) who have difficulty in positioning their practice as relevant through the medium. What this resistance does is to render artists who take video art practice seriously, and who have come to grips with the technology behind it, as being in a position of privilege and existing in an insular space. The Boda Boda Lounge project was also an opportunity for the artists participating to view different articulations of the use of the video camera as a tool in the African setting: from pictorial representation of everyday life by Ezra Wube, to the more personal narratives from Akweke Emezi and Maimuna Adams, which engage with the artists’ creative process and further display their connections to their space, land, and people. Allowing the artists, along with the project, to become transient, yet important, voices− voices, who like Leye are prepared to travel and cross lines of divide of language, culture, etc. – pre-empts their work to respond for itself, and also becomes part of a larger discourse that generates content for new approaches in contemporary practice. To travel, to move within spaces without physical effort, to begin with a history of video art on the continent, without an archive – or at least one that has been institutionalized – could mean an immediate denial of the status of practice of video on the continent. However, these ten artists have accepted the challenge to exist in such a removed context. Their work not only represents public/ private narratives but also present an opportunity for certain languages to be adopted around practice, techniques, and ways of presenting work, towards “another” educational space for artists who are interested in the medium. Focusing on contemporary art on the African continent, the Boda Boda Lounge project also aims at challenging specific notions around art practice, especially the notion that art cannot move across borders easily, and further, that it cannot involve different art spaces in the same envelope. Boda Boda Lounge is an introspection on the medium of video, as well as on contemporary art practice on the continent, motivating a parallel investigation in the spirit Leye’s adventurous journey. In an abstract way, the Boda Boda Lounge project also reflects on questions of land, communication, language and borders.

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Goddy_Leye

Boda Boda Lounge Project

Video Still 1 _Ududeagu_ 2014 Akwaeke Emezi

A few questions that surround the project and perhaps represent the it’s pre-emptive challenges are (1) How does one create a project that enables practitioners to be active participants, from the hosting venues to being artists, curators and thinkers, in an effective way? (2) Where does the power of a project like Boda Boda Lounge lie, when it comes to collaborative, network-based projects? To physically cross-spaces is, to an extent, to exist in a moment of bewilderment. To enter a journey of personal discovery and project assumptions into the spaces we end up in. It may be an opportunity to create long lasting links, to enable networks that have the possibility of engaging in processes – active. However, the Boda Boda Lounge project uses different tools to bridge and even discover newer versions of technology and perhaps naiveté. The larger aim is to provide as many platforms for practitioners to express and grow their ideas. To be able to share as well as to influence imaginative ways of engaging with art practice, to have confidence about the work they present to the world, and to break free from other modes of expression by continuously challenging their points of departure. The Boda Boda lounge project aims at supporting the contemporary African art scene and to impart the courage it needs to manifest encounters between art and its practitioners, and to take along this walled-off conversation to a larger audience: an audience that has, in fact, been restricted through television to engage with prescriptive narratives. Reference List: Freire, Paulo, “The Pedagogy of the oppressed” (2005), 30th edn, The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, NY, New York, pp.53 Leye, Goddy“Exitour as a Rhizome”(2009), Translated by Dominique Malaquais, Published; Chimurenga Chronic, http://chimurengachronic.co.za/exitour-as-rhizome/

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Video Art Practice Essay by Portia Malatjie and intervention by Dineo Seshee Bopape


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acess! space, time and power in video art Portia Malatjie The term ‘Boda-Boda’ is an adaptation of the word border and alludes to a cross border movement, suggesting physical mobility across lines that represent the divide of land and space universally. Teamed with ‘lounge’, the project seeks to engage questions of mobility and domesticities, and how these two notions are now being engaged in our personal space1. Boda-Boda Lounge Festival Press statement “Video is a present-time medium. Its image can be simultaneous with its perception by/of its audience (it can be an image of its audience perceiving). The space/time it presents is continuous, unbroken and congruent to that of the real time which is the shared time of its perceivers... This is unlike film which is, necessarily, an edited representation of the past of another reality... for separate contemplation by unconnected individuals. Film is discontinuous, its language constructed, in fact, from syntactical and temporal disjunctions (for example, montage). Film is a reflection of a reality external to the spectator’s body; the spectator’s body is out of frame. In a live video situation, the spectator may be included in frame at one moment or be out of frame at another moment. Film constructs a ‘reality’ separate and incongruent to the viewing situation; video feeds back indigenous data in the immediate, present-time environment or connects parallel time-space continua. Film is contemplative and ‘distanced’; it detaches a viewer from present reality and makes him [sic] a spectator. (Graham, p. 62) “ Graham cited in McQuire The Boda-Boda transnational video festival is premised on the need to eradicate demarcations that prohibit the free movement of people. South Africa is not foreign to the restriction of mobility; here, during the height of apartheid, the movement of black – and white – people was controlled by the state in order to maintain a particular politic. Access was prohibited to certain spaces, and some form of identification had to be presented in order to legitimate your presence in those spaces. The state, in this instance, managed to blur the lines between public and private space, thus indicating the power relations inherent in the constitution of the two concepts. Private space being masked as public space is not only a historical idea, but as Khwezi Gule suggests, also a part of contemporary existence. Speaking about the tensions of ‘public’ in public art, Gule insists “[t]he idea of public space must … be interrogated. Most space in urban areas is either private or privatised. Public art is not necessarily public. How is public space privatised?” He asserts that there are numerous ways in which the state, as well as economically powerful entities which oftentimes work in collaboration with the state, control spaces that are meant to be public2.

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Boda-Boda Lounge Festival press statement. Gule continues: “Firstly, it comes in the guise of neighborhood-watch organisations, residents’ associations, or, as in the case of Newtown in Johannesburg, the Newtown Improvement District which comprises of businesses in Newtown which in part oversees the developmental agenda of the precinct. Secondly, there are cases where public spaces are policed by security guards who act to deflect and control various forms of nonconformist behaviour to keep out “the wrong kind of people”.

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Video Still _Vodacom Golf Village, Gilloolys, Bedford View_ 2013 Bongani Khoza

Video still _Moving_ Justine Gaga

It is the contradictions of public and private space that lie at the heart of the BodaBoda lounge project. The festival exists inside a ‘lounge’ space, where different members of the ‘art’ community can come together to view a number of video artworks from Africa and its diaspora. This collective activity, interestingly, resembles a similar occurence in the rural areas of South Africa, where, in the 1990s, few families owned televisions. As a young girl, I remember that in the evenings – during the airing of a local drama series – scores of people would gather in silence around a small black and white screen television owned by some better-resourced community member. In a time when technology was scarce, activities we today consider to be private – such as watching television – were communal. The scarcity of technology did not mean it didn’t exist, and those communal engagements were technology’s way of promoting new social relations. The Boda-Boda festival occupies multiple ambiguities. The use of the word ‘lounge’ in the title implies a domesticated participation of moving images. Video art is often consumed in gallery or museum spaces, which are meant to be public spaces, in that they are open to anyone who wishes to come in. However, these space also blur the lines between private and public in their own way. Seldom will a piece of video art be expected to be watched in a familial space such as one’s own lounge. Our experiences of watching video art are based on specific spatial and temporal circumstances. Video art is a medium that challenges our conception of time and space. It can be narrative based, thus operating close to reality, or as a juxtaposition of abstract, even fictional, imagery. It is precisely for these reasons that video art can be seen to provide alternative spaces and realities. As Graham suggests, there is an expectation that video can portray reality, especially through interactive video practices. However, as much as film is fictional and constructed, video can be manipulated too, and presented to audiences under different circumstances. Video art is based on data, and its intangible and immaterial characteristics makes it intriguing to consider as an object of curation and consumption. German artist Marcus Kreiss conceptualised an interesting way of watching video in the private space. In 2006, Kreiss started a video art channel called Souvenirs from Earth, which was to remain open all day, every day. In France and Germany, the channel is available on cable. It is also available everywhere else in the world through

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live streaming 3. Souvenirs from Earth is an inventive method to bring a craft such as video art, which can otherwise feel exclusive, into the homes of ‘ordinary’ people. Due to the nature of video as a data-based medium that is easily distributed, relationships between different countries are easily and logistically possible. The Boda-Boda project has the capacity to exist simultaneously in multiple spaces at the same time. Unlike the precious single artwork, whose structures it dismantles, this form allows for a different reading of – and engagement with – artworks. As Walter Benjamin asserts, 4“The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical … reproducibility.” A techno-cultural community is enabled through the use of technology, and the communal consumption of the moving image takes on a different, and multi-spatial and multi-temporal, form. Barriers are broken down, and relationships that would otherwise require a lot of effort, are malleably forged. Technology, despite its numerous political problems, is not something that can easily be dismissed. Technology is at the heart of the use and consumption of video art. Access to technology has become one of the defining factors of an advanced society. This access, sadly, is equivalent to access to information, and those without information are seen to not be in tune with what is happening around the globe. It is no longer fitting to speak about video art as a new medium. Access to technology is readily available, and the ‘newness’ of video is perhaps misinformed. While this may be the case, it is imperative to acknowledge the ways in which technology constantly reinvents itself, or more correctly, how ‘man’ constantly reimagines technology in order to move a little further from ‘primitivism’ to a better version of ‘himself ’. The human relationship with technology usually takes on a sinister form, with ‘man’ inventing technology in order for it to assist him realise ‘his’ full potential. However, there is always an underlying fear of the potential dangers of that relationship; this has been expressed in science-fiction film and literature, where ‘man’ creates machine – and then the machine develops enough knowledge and skill to outsmart and destroy ‘man’. A close friend of mine once suggested that we are almost fully in a post-humanist era, where human beings cannot live without the intervention of technology. To her, we were all walking cyborgs, where our cellphones, laptops and televisions are extensions of ourselves. If this is true, then humans have approached a subtle form of post-humanism, where people struggle to function in a ‘purist’ human form. Post-humanism is a concept that moves beyond changes in the physical body. It is also the way in which people relate to each other, a way of being that is highly influenced by technology. Through the use of technology, people are able to access multiple versions of themselves, can be in multiple spaces at the same time, and transcend space and time in a way that ‘pure’ humanism does not allow. Considering the power relations enabled by technology – such as the hierarchy of social development on the basis of technological advancement – a rather sinister social relationship unfolds. By accessing technology, people are seen to be progressive, to have access to information, to have ascended to a particular lifestyle, without considering the consequences of the use of the technology in the first place. Technology is capitalist driven – the transference of the human to a post-human by relying on technology is a way of maintaining hegemonic imperialism and colonialism, a situation in which technology is used as a tool to uphold the status quo, to separate the have and the have-nots along a technological line.

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Marcus Kreiss, Panel Discussion. LOOP Art Fair, Barcelona. June 2014

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Benjamin, Walter.

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Video Still _Cailloux _Tétshim _ Frank Mukanday

We have a complex relationship with technology. Science fiction reflects an elaborate tension in the relationship between humans and technology; at a more mundane level, other social imbalances are made evident. It is difficult to talk about technology without considering its intersections with race, class and gender. It is by no accident that I referred to ‘man’s’ relationship with technology, thus omitting other genders in the conceptualising and usage of technology. Whenever conversations about the advancement of humankind through technology occur, the ‘humankind’ referred to is the white man. It is not by chance, then, that technologically heavy genres such as science fiction mostly omit the presence of black people. The protagonist in this genre is almost always a white man who undergoes strenuous difficulties in order to save mankind from out-of-control robots. It is only the white man who posses the skill and knowledge to operate the kind of technology that will destroy the evil machine. As Sandra Jackson5 asserts in relation to science fiction films: I look for narratives wherein people of colour, and Blacks in particular, are integral to the story and not mere background, transient and expendable characters, who either walk on and off screen, are killed off very early on (often in the most brutal and violent ways), are forgotten about, or are eliminated just before the end so that only white characters remain – customarily a couple, a white Adam and Eve, icons signalling a new beginning for humankind. I am cognisant of the fact that Jackson is referring to western science fiction films and that this narrative does

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Sandra Jackson. 2009. Black Bodies and the Representation of Blackness in Imagined Futures in Imagining, Writing , (Re)Reading the Black Body, (eds) Jackson, Sandra, Demissie, Fassil and Goodwin, Michele. Pretoria: UNISA Press, 147

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not necessarily reflect the science fiction produced on the African continent. For instance, in films such as JeanPierre Bekolo’s Les Saignantes (2005), the majority, if not the entire cast, is black, and the protagonists are two black women. In 1979, almost two decades after the emergence of video art in the west, scholar Daryl Chin interrogated video in terms of its intersections with race, class and gender. In Contemplating the Navel: The Use and Abuse of Video Art, Chin alludes to the modernist tendencies of video art. He argues that video art as a ‘new’ medium was treated in the same way that painting was treated and theorised during the time of abstract expressionism – in the1950s. Chin dissects the advocacy for deconstructing the medium of painting, from its figurative treatment to its core, which manifested in the form of abstraction, as can be seen in the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock. This search, for the true essence of the medium, was seen as a form of genius that only few art patrons could comprehend. Art critics such as Clement Greenberg reinforced the prevalence of the white, male, genius, autonomous artist. Chin argues that the rise of video art in the USA in the 1960s resembles some of the pompous proclamations of modernism. At the beginning of American video art practice, artists would insert themselves in their video works in the form of performance. The inclusion of the self in these works was perceived by Chin (and Rosalind Krauss, whom he cites) as narcissistic and designed to elevate the male artist to the state of superstardom 6. In addition to the superstar status, (father of video art) Korean-born Naim June Paik proclaims: The problem is not really socialism or capitalism but technology, you know – how we manage that. For instance, technological forecasting, future research – I am very interested in that. They need us artists, to make that sort of information available to the public. Even the New York Times will not print the Rand Corporation Report, because it is so boring. Like McLuhan says, we are antennae for a changing society. But not only antennae – we also have output capacity, to humanize technology. Paik assumes that the video artist has a social responsibility to change society through technology. As argued above, technology in this instance is perceived as having the ability to catapult humanity to a more advanced state. While the case of the autonomous genius artist plagues our comprehension of art history, it is worth noting that there are other areas that developed their own video art scene. One such place is Brazil, a country rich with video art history, a history that is sadly often overlooked. Arlindo Machado sketches a brief history of Brazilian video art in his essay, Video Art: The Brazilian Adventure. According to Machado, access was a significant factor in the rise of Brazilian video art. In as much as technology is usually a marker of economic advancement, ironically, video art in Brazil was the result of a lack of finances. Machado asserts that because art materials were expensive and hard to come by, the first generation of video artists adopted the medium because it was financially more viable.

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Chin posits, “…the utilization of multichannel installation ensured the indispensible acknowledgement of video as medium, with specificity of video overtly stipulated. However, the ascendancy of a form which can be called ‘artists’ television’ represents an admission of defeat. The rampant racism, indulgence, and narcissism which the form implies may be, for all intents and purposes, unconscious on the part of the artists who participate. But in a postmodern (hence, analytic, conscious, and conscientious) system, which, presumably, defines the art world, the lack of consciousness is unconscionable, reprehensible, and unpardonable. The private impulse which looks at an image of the self stares at the enclosed feedback of a narcissistic face. The equations (of artist with star, of the art world with show business, of the self with the self) look alike…”

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The uses and understandings of video art in different spaces and epochs are interesting to examine in context. Video develops in different ways in different parts of the world, for different reasons, and under different circumstances. To assume that the inclusion of an artist’s body in video, through performance, is purely narcissistic is not accurate when speaking about the contemporary (South) African landscape, for instance. Artists such as Sethembile Msezane, Sonia Radebe and Siphumeze Khundai, in their collaborative video/performance piece Ellipist, insert their bodies in their video work in such a way that speaks to autobiography and the reclaiming of the representation of black female bodies. To call the insertion of their bodies in the work narcissitic would miss the postcolonialist and black feminist urgency of contemporary (South) African art practice. Since the use and consumption of video art differs in different spaces, it is interesting to consider a transnational video festival that exists in multiple African countries. It is also interesting to speak about the claiming of video art (that is technology), by a continent that is perceived as ‘backward’ due to its lack of easy access to technology. We must, thus, consider what it means to speak about video art in the African continent and what tools one should use to theorise video from Africa; not just video art made in Africa or by African artists, but African concepts – or the understanding of concepts from the ‘African’ perspective 7. This includes the ‘African’ experience and different understandings of time and space. What does it actually mean to speak about space, time and technology as concepts that are universal? On closer examination, people’s sense of space and particularly time, differ. Newell S. Booth Jr. 8 writes, “In western culture time seems to be thought of generally as a line extending equally into past and future, marked off in units of hours, days, years, and centuries. There appears to be some uncertainty as to whether time ‘moves’ or whether we move through time; at any rate, there is agreement that in some sense we are ‘headed toward the future’. Men plan, work and struggle in order that the future may be better than the past.” The perception of time in African cosmology is characterised by different rules. Booth9 cites Dr. John Mbiti, who argues that time in some African languages (Kikamba, for example) is calculated by the past, and present, and maybe the immediate future. The distant future is of little importance. If we can argue that time in Africa is different from time in Europe or other parts of the world how then do we even begin to speak about video as a technological, time- and space-based medium? It is evident, then, that to think of video art from Africa – and how it is consumed in Africa – we need to extrapolate beyond conventional understandings of video art. It is also worth interrogating the pan-African relationships forged by projects such as the BodaBoda Lounge, and the value they bring to engaging with a much more nuanced comprehension of the video form.

Works Cited Badmington, Neil. “Theorizing Posthumanism”. In Cultural Critique, No. 53, Posthumanism (Winter, 2003), pp. 10 – 27

7

Wiredu, Kwasi.

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(Booth. Jr.; 1975; 81).

9 Ibid

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Booth, Jr. Newell S. “Time and Change in African Traditional Thought”. In Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 7, Fasc. 2 (1975), pp. 81 – 91 Chin, Daryl. 1979. “Contemplating the Navel: The Use and Abuses of Video Art”. In Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1/2, The American Imagination: A Decade of Contemplation, pp. 62 -69 Gule, Khwezi. 2015. “The Public Art Hustle” in The Con Magazine: http://www.theconmag.co.za/2015/04/20/ the-public-art-hustle/ [Accessed 3 May 2015] Benjamin. Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Hanhardt, John, G. (2008) “From Screen to Gallery: Cinema, Video and Installation Art Practices” In American Art, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Summer 2008), pp. 2 – 8 Sandra Jackson. 2009. Black Bodies and the Representation of Blackness in Imagined Futures in Imagining, Writing, (Re)Reading the Black Body, (eds) Jackson, Sandra, Demissie, Fassil and Goodwin, Michele. Pretoria: UNISA Press, 147 Machado, Arlindo. “Video Art: The Brazilian Adventure”. In Leonardo, Vol. 29, No. 3 (1996), pp. 225 – 231 McQuire, Scott. No Date. “Video Theory”. In Globe E. http://www.artdes.monash.edu.au/non-cms/globe/issue9/ smtxt.html [Accessed 24 November 2014] Simon, Bart. ‘Introduction: Toward a Critique of Posthuman Futures’. In Cultural Critiqiu, No. 53, Posthumanism (Winter, 2003), pp. 1 – 9 Wiredu, Kwasi. “Philosophy and Authenticity.” In Shibboleths: A Journal of Contemporary Theory. 1.2 (2007), pp. 72 - 80

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Things to say in a Multimedia environment Dineo Seshee Bopape Hello, my name is Dineo Seshee Bopape. I am an artist. I live in Johannesburg in South Africa. I work primarily in video. So, process. There are various processes involved in making video art, and they depend on the maker. Some processes involve working with people or working alone, working with actors or working with a crew. For myself, a majority of the time I’ve worked alone. Some people work with found footage and or archived footage. Within the continent, practices are varied; either from sourcing video material that already exists, generating new material, filming, filming solo, or getting together a crew and shooting something be it indoors or outdoors. The content is sometimes driven by the process. Sometimes the process of making a video determines what the content will be. For myself, content varies depending on the video. Editing plays a big part in what the video is, what the content is, and what the aesthetic is [will be] as well – from religion, politics, social politics, love, the weather and environmental stuff. I use various technologies in producing video art. To start with: tripods, cell phone cameras, digital cameras, manual cameras, high definition cameras, lo-fi equipment, hi-fi equipment, broadcast quality equipment, actual video cameras, VHS tapes and digital tapes. Some people use digital technology or HD, some people just use whatever is handy or at hand. Others even use outdated technologies like film. Perhaps for aesthetic or other reasons, certain technologies are chosen by the video artist. For myself, I use whatever technology is available. The technology keeps changing, video editing software changes too, so what was used ten years ago will be very different from what’s used today. From analogue to digital, I’m not sure what will be next; one has to be aware of how technology keeps changing, because some formats that were generic a few years ago will become obsolete and there might not be any tools or software to decode them. One always has to keep archiving one’s work before technology gets outdated; one also has to archive it for showing on new devices and be aware of the technological advancements of things like, what projectors are doing, well actually it depends what kind of artists one is. Spaces for video: Video art can be displayed on televisions, monitors, screens, viewfinders, black boxes, projectors, and more. Video art can be shown anywhere, from festivals, online platforms, galleries, museums and private homes, to hair salons. Projects like Boda- Boda Lounge, are great opportunities for propagating video art in the continent. The audience for video art, I suppose, is the same as the one for other art mediums like sculpture, painting and photography, because it is just another branch of the same field. The problem, often, is that it requires more time, patience, and investment than other forms of art.

Video art practice | Things to say in a Multi-media environment


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Marketing and archiving: There are video collectors in the continent. With a few in South Africa too. The collector with the largest video collection at the moment is Emile Stipp a collector based in Pretoria. He started buying works by South African artists and now he’s expanding his collection to collect more artists from around the continent. It is also great that the video archive of the continent is here and not only housed in European institutions. When selling video art, there are a few things to consider, like how many editions one would like to sell of the video, and how to authenticate editions, and these are up to the artist to decide on. Sometimes video art is sold as a disc, as a file, as videotape, as actual film even – depending on what the thing it, what it is made of and what it represents.

Video art practice | Things to say in a Multi-media environment


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On Censorship Essays by Alex Lyons and Mthabisi Phili And a Response by Vincent Bezuidenhout


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Banning Banned By Alex Lyons When I think about Kampala, I don’t think about private and public spaces in the way they are defined by city-planning and legal frameworks. The public spaces that are offered to us by the city council are often restricted. For example, City Square, the largest park in central Kampala, is fenced and guarded by the police, and the only way you can enjoy the park is by watching it through a metal fence barricade. Recently, our government imposed the Public Order Management Act 2013. The Act prohibits unregistered gatherings in outdoor spaces. To find a public space, therefore, is one thing, and to interact freely in it is another. As a result of these problems, people resort to alternative places – places where they can assemble. They turn inwards, to their own private spaces, which are readily available to them. For example, my partner regularly turns our one-room house into a hair salon, where her friends gather to braid hair, watch television and wolokoso (gossip). By repurposing our house, she offers herself and others the opportunity to create a self-made public-ness. This temporary overpopulation of my house, although often fun to watch, sometimes restricts my own desires – obsessive football-watching doesn’t go down well with my partner – and therefore forces me to seek solace in outside spaces available to me; bars, restaurants and cinemas. Solace, for me, is the comfort that can be found within solitude and in this case, public solitude. For others, restrictions on what one can visually consume can come from belonging to a patriarchal, religious or conservative family. A desire to engage with content that is not accepted in the domestic environment forces people to explore new frontiers. You will often find internet cafes packed with youngsters watching YouTube, a platform that provides more choice than censored Ugandan television networks. You will discover bars and betting shops packed on the weekends, as they encourage people to interact in a way that is forbidden – or possible – at home. The kibandas (video halls), where video jockeys translate films live into Luganda, provide an affordable way for people to access and consume foreign films. In Kampala, through these processes of subverting private space into public, and public into private, we are able to find solitude, solace and express freedom. Last year, a series of laws were created in Uganda that restrict these freedoms and intrude into these shifting ideas of public and private space. One such bill is the Anti-Pornography Bill 2014. We are no longer allowed to possess ‘pornography’ in our domestic spaces or circulate it amongst our friends and partners. The law also prohibits the exhibition and publication of ‘pornography’, limiting what the kibandas, bars and restaurants can play. What is pivotal to this law is the definition of ‘pornography’. The bill states: “’Pornography’ means any representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or stimulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement...” All words within this definition can be left open to interpretation, most particularly, ‘representation’ and ‘indecent’. How does one judge the boundaries of what ‘representation’ is? And how does someone determine what is ‘indecent’? These words became even more ambiguous when we tried to apply them to the videos that had been selected for the BodaBoda Lounge Project. The cultural sector in Kampala is growing in popularity; on a regular basis, at any given event, you can find 200-300 people regularly attending art exhibitions, poetry readings, film screenings and musical concerts. This community of people, quite like the living room hairdressers, operate innovatively in order to survive. They are

On Censorship | Banning Banned


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often forced to redesign their homes into studios and exhibition spaces – and turn their compounds into theatres with temporary stages. It is within this framework of transformation that 32° East exists. The organisation is based within a compound, and our studio/resource centre is fashioned from second-hand shipping containers. We work with a targeted community who are interested in developing a contemporary art practice; at the same time we undertake public projects that create a discourse between artists, the public and authority. The BodaBoda Lounge Project offered us an opportunity to continue this conversation. We created an intimate space for the exhibition by transforming our studios into lounge areas that were equipped with couches, armchairs and widescreen televisions. At the same time, we subverted the lounge format by looping some of the videos on separate televisions in a manner more akin to a museum or gallery space. Our curatorial strategy was to unsettle the notions of ‘public’ and ‘private’, so that conversations and questions of the two could co-exist.

Video still "banned'' Vincent Bezuidenhout One artwork that created particular tensions was Banned by artist, Vincent Bezuidenhout. Within the framework outlined earlier, the question was, could or should we exhibit this film? Each member of our staff found the possibility of exhibiting Banned testing for different reasons – the main contention being the ‘representation’ of sex and sexuality. Not exhibiting Banned would mean self-censoring ourselves according to a self-inflicted interpretation of the Anti-Pornography Act. Furthermore, what would it mean to ban Banned? Perhaps exhibiting Banned – as we eventually did – meant we intentionally interpreted the Act so that we could exhibit a film challenging it.

On Censorship | Banning Banned


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Art Freedom & Expression: A Convenient Dream Mthabisi Phili When we discus censorship, we are, in effect, discussing freedom and expression. Freedom and expression are relative terms, and are contextual to both environment and forms of governance. Art is creative expression. When we discuss art, we necessarily enter the realm of expression. And expression is fulfilled by actions and words. Art intersects with censorship (a regulating authority) in the context of expression, which is what we do and say – and how we do it and say it. It is important to establish reality from fantasy, as no one – no society – is free to say or do whatever they want to say or do. For the purposes of this discussion, let us draw up an equation. Art expression + regulating authority = audience +reaction (where the regulating authority is the government or law.) In reality all individual expression – everything we do say, and how we do and say it – is subject to the law at all times; the fact that we do not see or hear the law does not mean it ceases to exist; it only means we are probably within its parameters and probably not in its breach. We have given our governments the right to act in support of our mutual or majority interest. In reality, is there freedom of expression? The answer is no. It is true, however, that some systems of government give more wriggle-room to freedom and expression. Art expression is about action and words, but so is life. Life and expression both rotate on the axes of actions and words. Freedom of expression is only justifiable in context, not alone. Thus, in discussing expression we are discussing censorship. Censorship is the act of preventing certain actions and words of society from being done or said. It is important to establish that as humans, we are not totally free when it comes to actions and words. It is in this light that we have to engage with censorship, by understanding the reality: censorship begins with you and me. We engage in censorship every second of our lives, and if we could, perhaps we would even censor our dreams. We have a capacity to say everything that we are thinking, but each one of us chooses to say only what we consider most convenient and opportunist to say. In a larger context, therefore, the democratic governments we have elected also determine what the safest information is to share, and what the safest forms of expression are to share them, whether in public or private. For example, a piece of video art by Vincent_Bezuidenhout entitled ‘Banned” was excluded (or censored) from exhibition in Bulawayo during BodaBoda 2014 because of elements of nudity, and shots of uniformed male officers kissing, resembling elements of homosexual practice. The constitution of Zimbabwe criminalizes all forms of practice of pornography and homosexuality, its practice and or public showing or broadcasting of material that leads to propagation of here foresaid activities in public or private. Thus any action on the contrary translates into an infringement of the law, a law made to protect the moral and civil liberties of the people who enacted it

On Censorship | Art Freedom & Expression: A Convenient Dream


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until perhaps proven otherwise by the people. Thus any action on the contrary translates into an infringement of the law. In this case, it is not a matter of showing or not showing the video. It is a matter of following the legal laws of the community, which are made with the communities’ rights at heart. In this context, and in this situation, the video was in breach of the laws and restrictions of the community. Censorship is a right for any state to exercise. The enforcement of censorship is applied differently from one territory or community to the next. Perhaps from where the artist created the work, he was not in breach of the law, but clearly, in Zimbabwe, it would have been a breach of law to show the video in this case. Who is wrong? No one is wrong. There is a tendency by artists to fail to understand that their rights of freedom and expression fall within the general rights of freedom and expression that are enshrined in their constitutions. Censorship is a right for any state to exercise. The enforcement of censorship is different from one territory to the next. Artists are prone to proceed ignorantly and gain the status of being ‘victim heroes’ by virtue of castigation of local governments and contexts because of censorship applied to their work. Are these actions by artists out of (1) outright ignorance, or (2) a propensity to seek international fame at whatever cost, or (3) genuine reflections towards the sustenance of human freedoms and rights? “In Number 26. Of the United Nations Assembly, Under article 19 of ICCPR, it states” the right to freedom of expression, including in the form of art, may be subject to certain restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary (a) for the respect of the rights or reputations of others; or (b) for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals”. Laws are territorial. Every society develops culture and beliefs, elements and values of which are carried into law. Therefore, artists can be simultaneously in compliance with the law in one country and yet in breach of the law in another country. Under such circumstances, can we say that there is censorship if artistic material is in direct breach of a country’s laws and is thus suppressed? Since laws are territorial, it is necessary for societies to respect and recognize each other’s existence – and the existence of differences in cultures, religions and values. These societal belief systems, in turn, present different outlooks and judgments on social issues, for example, without being specific, the fact that African cultures and societies do acknowledge the existence of homosexuality but punish and outlaw those that are caught in its practice. European societies and culture – in general – does acknowledge the existence of homosexuality and does allow its practice. Homosexuality has thus long been censored in African societies and culture, hence the translation of this censorship into laws against homosexuality. Laws are agreed upon by democratic societies, be they African or European or American. It follows then that freedom of expression in art is of consequence, no doubt, but with negative or positive consequences depending on the context. Censorship is lawful. It is only unlawful in its unlawful application.

On Censorship | Art Freedom & Expression: A Convenient Dream


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Regarding the censorship of the work Banned by Vincent Bezuidenhout Banned is a video work comprised of fragments of footage appropriated from movies that were censored in South Africa during apartheid. During this time the white government had full control of the media, which they used to not only promote hatred between racial groups, but also to manipulate the white minority by portraying the black majority as a threat and inferior to them. Banned includes footage of racism, sexism, violence, and religious and sexual content edited together to create multiple narratives ranging from the idea of a strong black female character as depicted by Grace Jones in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill, to the depiction of colonialism in cinema. However, it seems the most controversial part of Banned is from the 1980 film Cruising, starring Al Pacino. In the film Pacino plays a police detective who goes undercover in the underground gay subculture of New York City to catch a serial killer believed to be targeting gay men. (The movie was inspired by actual events in 1977 when a number of homosexual men in New York city were murdered in a serial fashion). Cruising was banned in South Africa, Finland and Iran upon its release just as many of the films I am working with were banned in multiple countries upon their release. The piece of footage in question shows men in police uniforms in a gay club engaged in sexual activities. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in both Zimbabwe and Uganda, the latter having also recently banned pornography. The fact that this footage provided for so much consternation is not surprising. I included this footage, as similarly homosexuality was illegal in South Africa during apartheid under the Immorality Act, the main purpose of this Act being to make sexual relations between white and black illegal. These laws were brutally enforced by the South African Police and many individuals were incarcerated and families destroyed as a result. As South Africa became a democracy this law was scrapped and the right of the individual to sexual freedom is inscribed in the constitution (despite this there are however still huge challenges facing the LGBT community in South Africa). The very act of working with footage that was widely banned in the first instance makes it challenging to watch, which is an important part of the experience for the audience to allow narratives beyond the actual footage to emerge. My practice is concerned with power and history and how these elements can reveal the nature of those in control. Just like the social engineering implemented through the constructed segregated landscape of apartheid, control of information also stretched into psychological segregation, the mind construct of the ‘other’. ‘Othering’ of course does not only apply to race but also sexual orientation. Ms. Farida Shaheed1 , who wrote the United Nations A/HRC/23/34 General Assembly resolutions on art expression and censorship, used the example of the work “Banned” as a case study in which laws on censorship need to be abided in order to respect the ‘existence of difference in cultures, religion and values’. That similar laws during apartheid were repealed and that as an artist I am free to make work with material that was once illegal to own, 1

Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, http://on-the-move.org/files/FShaheed_report_HRC-23-34_en.pdf

On Censorship | Regarding the censorship of the work Banned


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illustrates the flaws of such laws that should not be rigorously followed but rather continuously questioned. Perhaps these difficult questions need to be asked; perhaps we need to be confronted by that which we find offensive in order to look at our own prejudices and actions. Despite Ms. Shaheeds views that state some artists create challenging work out of ignorance or simply to attain fame, I believe it is the artist role to provoke, to say what others are afraid of or may fear to express. The intention of the artist might in fact run contrarily to ideas of the state, morality etc. Banned therefore reflects on the ideologies of the architects of apartheid whose psychology was rooted in the idea of the ‘other’, of control, fear and power. My interest in Banned lies in not only why these movies where censored in South Africa in the first place, but more importantly, I wish to reflect on the mentality of those who implemented censorship in South Africa. This work reflects on the ideologies of the architects of apartheid whose psychology was rooted in the idea of the ‘other’, of control, fear and power. Revealingly, the manner in which this work comprised of censored material has now ironically been censored itself, speaks to the mentality of those in power today. At a time when censorship seems to be increasing, especially in the arts, we must continue to ask question about the intentions of those in power today. Art is the last place we can speak the truth.

On Censorship | Regarding the censorship of the work Banned


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On Aspects of Censorships In our conversations with art centres that participated in the video art exhibition that was the Boda Boda Lounge, the issue of local contexts and circumstances was very important for all of us involved. From the Boda Boda Lounge team point of view, we wanted to avoid a doctrinaire transfer of either video art or ideas or models. We believed that multiple approaches to curation would both better benefit the project as well as provide all of us a better understanding of the contexts in operation across the continent. A specific piece of video art, Banned by South African artist Vincent Bezuidenhout, brought into play questions of pornography and homosexuality, and attendant concerns of freedom and expression. These questions and concerns arose specifically in Bulawayo and Kampala, and prompted different responses. In Zimbabwe, Voice in Colours excluded this work from the show, and in Uganda, 32° East, after some initial hesitation, went ahead and showed it. We thought it important for all involved – the organisation that showed the work, the organisation that did not, the artist who made the work – to place on record their thoughts on the process. To stay true to its mission, a project like Boda Boda Lounge requires difficult conversations to take place. We hope that these conversations, however uncomfortable, result in the opening of spaces where we can negotiate our (often) conflicting convictions for freedom and equality, and bring contextual honesty into a regional sphere.

The Boda Boda Team

On Censorship | On Aspects of Censorships


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Artists on Movement Essays by Ezra Wube and Erick Msumanje


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The Still to the Unstill Ezra Wube As the story is told, a dog, a donkey and a goat join a shared taxi ride. The goat (the “-”) does not pay the taxi fare, the donkey (the “0”) pays the exact taxi fare and the dog (the “+”) overpays. The story concludes that, to this day, dogs run after taxis (to ask for their change back), goats run away (afraid to be asked for what they owe) and donkeys block the road (they are indifferent since they owe and are owed nothing). In 2011, I made a stop-action animation based on this story titled Hisab. In Amharic “Hisab” literally means mathematics. It is a common word used when one asks for payment for a service (for transportation, in restaurants etc). I used the neighborhood where I grew up as a backdrop. Addis Ababa is a city that is currently in the midst of great transformation. It is expanding drastically. One-fourth of its current residents are in the process of relocating to new neighborhoods. Old communities are disappearing, and new ones are forming. Perhaps I was inspired to make this piece by an urge to reflect on my neighborhood and tell its story while it was on the verge of transformation. Voice actors were cast from local residents, friends and relatives. The story itself is not significant. It is usually told in a casual atmosphere: a cafe, a store, the street, or any ordinary place. I wanted to retell and reexamine the passing of the everyday. I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and moved to the United States at the age of 18. Therefore, my idea of home and belonging is no longer singular. I am in a continuous dialogue between past and present, tradition and modernity, authenticity and process. At the Massachusetts College of Art, I studied painting and communication design. Both programs were focused on the still image as a form of communication. After completing my BFA (2004) I received a travel award with my wife Jolie Ruelle (animator and musician) to collect oral folklore from Ethiopia. We traveled for four months throughout the country going from town to town, sometimes on foot or mule. We documented over 100 stories on video, and the experience gave me the chance to extensively practice video recording – and photography. The intention of the project was to document oral traditions as a means to preserve them, as well as to find personal artistic inspiration. Seven years later, I decided to make the stop-action animation painting “Hisab” – based on one of the collected stories. I believed the story reflected the current changes in Addis Ababa, the nature of each animal a metaphor for the complex relationship between nature and mechanics, tradition and modernity. To make stop-action animation, I paint a frame and take a picture of it using a still camera connected to a computer. I then paint the following frame on top of the previous one. I continue reworking the same surface and documenting its progress. When the desired exploration is realized, I discard the canvas, and edit the still images together to make a short. In this way, the physical process of making work now only exists digitally; the singular authentic object is forever gone, though its process has been documented. The documentation serves as an indexical vehicle connecting the past with the present. The performative aspect of my work is a means to reconcile time and place. My physical body becomes a direct and primal means of communication, affirming the “here”. When I grew up in Ethiopia, I lived in one house for 18 years. After moving to the United States, I have lived in over a dozen rental apartments in several states. This change from a consistent single home to multiple tempo-

Artist on movement | The still to the unstill


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rary homes has almost forced me to abandon creating still works altogether, due to the inconvenience they cause my mobility (once a painting is finished I need a place to store it). With animation, however, I can paint as much as I want – a thousand paintings on a single canvas. When I finish a project I discard the canvas and am only left with digital recordings. I find digital media liberating, with its objectless-ness and ability to be infinitely duplicable. Everyone can have a copy. It was a struggle for me to accept this new medium after believing in painting all my life, but it has become a means for me to bridge several thousand years of traditional practice of paint with modern technology. This new method of working allows me to retain the past, while yet moving forward.

Video Still _Hisab_ 2011 Ezra Wube

Artist on movement | The still to the unstill


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Imaginative Traveler Erick Msumanje
 My short film, The Devil’s House− is an experimental film that blends fiction and nonfiction experiences to tell the story of a young man reflecting on his journey to America. He uses his voice to travel through fragmented and blurred memories of his life. Along the way, he explores his original obsession of leaving his home, traumatic experiences linked to gun violence and racism. He also examines the complex pain and guilt associated with actually making the journey in the first place. These struggles are shown through interweaving visually poetic images, immersive soundscapes, and disciplined performances that focus on the detailed gestures of the body. The film is directly inspired by my childhood in Tanzania and my fascination with traveling. As a young boy I was mesmerized by airplanes ripping across the sky right over my village. It would drive me crazy when they reached a point in the sky where they disappeared beyond my vision. I wanted to see and experience the places they flew to. Since I didn’t have the ability to do so, I obsessively traveled to those places using my imagination. I had no clue how they actually looked like. Therefore, I completely made them up. They were masterfully designed towers made out of mud and wood. People had multiple arms, dozens of eyes, tall necks, and enormous bird wings.

Video Still _THE DEVIL'S HOUSE_ 2013 by ERICK MSUMANJE

Artist on movement | Imaginative Traveler


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This kind of imagination would not have been possible if airplanes had not disrupted my physical and mental space. The moments I spent staring at them got me to think about many things outside my own immediate existence even if they were fictional. This was challenged when I encountered another magnificent object. On this particular day, I took a trip by bus with my parents to a city far away from my village. The bus was packed with people and all kinds of goods. I was very excited with looking out the window at everything. Suddenly, the bus came to a halt. At first, I thought we had been stopped by the police, but that wasn’t the case. To my surprise, we stopped because we reached a traffic light. This completely blew my mind. Immediately, thoughts were racing through my mind about how the movement of such a powerful automobile could be controlled by a set of lights. Furthermore, I questioned why people would follow such silly rules and wondered if there were other systems in place that controlled our lives. This was a precious moment − my imagination took a wild turn. I began to try to visualize places that are more realistic and the kinds of systems that made them function. I started to wonder about what actually prevented me from going to those places. I would sit for hours and observe my surroundings, searching for an answer. At the time, I didn’t know that I couldn’t travel to those places because I was in a situation of extreme poverty. Furthermore, that access to wealth and prosperity was unequally divided. Still, my gut feeling told me that something was not right. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from spreading my hands out like an airplane and fly.

Artist on movement | Imaginative Traveler


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On Sharing Content Essay by Patrick Mudekereza


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Cartographier notre unité ou tous unis contre la cartographie ? Patrick Mudekereza La couverture d’une publication d’un chercheur américain sur les réformes de l’Etat au Congo est une photo prise à Lubumbashi présentant neuf drapeaux congolais alignés l’un à côté de l’autre, avec une note explicative plus loin : « Plus il y a de drapeaux, moins il y a d’Etat » 1. En restant dans la petite phrase et en imitant la provocation, cette affirmation me fait penser à une réalité sud-africaine : les représentations de la carte de l’Afrique. On pourrait y voir la question : « Beaucoup de cartes, combien d’Afrique ? » Si la volonté d’affirmer l’appartenance au continent se manifeste dans de nombreux éléments visuels qui vont des enseignes de restaurants aux logos d’institutions culturels, comment se traduit-elle au quotidien et comment devient-elle un engagement dans les moments troubles comme les dernières violences xénophobes d’avril 2015 ? Ce serait certainement un abus de langage de parler de « carte » pour évoquer la forme de l’Afrique sur les enseignes, les logos, et les prospectus et les objets d’artisanat en tout genre. Ce n’est certainement pas une carte au sens géographique du terme. Cette représentation souvent stylisée est néanmoins une expression du lien avec l’Afrique et de la volonté de la considérer dans son unité. Cartographier notre unité Cette réalité sud-africaine a son pendant congolais, dans la musique bien sûr. A un rythme assez régulier de 3 à 5 ans, un musicien à succès sort une chanson qui magnifie l’Afrique et son unité en faisant le tour des pays et/ou des capitales dans une espèce de cartographie sonore. La plus magistrale est la chanson Afrika mokili mobimba (littéralement Afrique, le monde entier), une chanson de l’African Jazz composée par Mwamba Déchaud et chantée par le Grand Kalé (Joseph Kabasele). Cette chanson enregistrée au lendemain des indépendances, affirme que le monde entier « veut danser au rythme de la musique africaine ». Plus de 30 après, Koffi Olomide et Papa Wemba se lanceront dans une aventure similaire à travers la chanson Wake Up, qui appelle à l’unité, à l’amour et à la danse (bien sûr) les frères et les sœurs d’Afrique (listant dans un ordre aléatoire Zimbabwe, Namibie, Lusaka, Gaborone, Lomé, Bamako, Angola, Cameroun). Ces deux chansons emblématiques, que l’on pourrait aisément qualifier de panafricanistes au sens étymologique/géographique comme au sens idéologiques, peuvent être considérées comme des instruments au service d’une cause noble, comme un discours de Patrice Lumumba ou une lettre de Kwame N’krumah, avec certes une charge un peu moins engageante. La musique est aussi, plus prosaïquement, un bon outil mnémotechnique pour les élèves qui tentent de mémoriser les noms des capitales, des rivières et des barrages hydroélectriques de chaque pays du continent pour le

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Réformes au Congo, attentes et désillusions, sous la direction de Theodore Trefon, Editions l’Harmattan, 2009. L’auteur est un « spécialiste » de la faillite de l’Etat congolais, il est un peu entêté avec cette idée.

On Sharing Content | Cartographier notre unité ou tous unis contre la cartographie ?


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cours de géographie aux examens d’Etat qui sanctionnent la fin des études secondaires en R.D.C. Un congolais qui voyage éprouve une certaine fierté d’entendre la musique congolaise, labellisée « musique africaine », dans les rues de Nairobi, de N’djamena ou de Harare. Si ce sentiment permet de rentrer en relation et de percevoir l’espace comme un autre chez soi, il ne permet pas d’occulter entièrement le sentiment d’y être étranger. Le projet panafricaniste peut beaucoup bénéficier de la musique, mais ne peut s’y limiter. L’ambition d’unir les peuples ne peut se contenter d’un trait crayon ou de quelques notes de musique. Il est vrai que le projet pan africain vu de l’angle des dirigeants a eu du mal à emballer. Le projet s’est doté pourtant d’outils qui vont d’un cadre politique à des manifestations culturelles, les fameux « festivals panafricains » labellisés par la défunte Organisation de l’Unité Africaine : Cinéma à Ouagadougou (FESPACO), Musique à Brazzaville (FESPAM), Danse à Kigali (FESPAD). Encore une tentative de cartographier des ‘pôles d’excellence’. Ma visite à Kigali lors du FESPAD en 2010 m’a laissé un goût d’amertume. Des délégations de nombreux pays, et une tendance à démontrer d’où on vient par son accoutrement et ses mouvements, digne d’un manuel d’ethnographie des années du début du XXème siècle. Heureusement, d’autres manières d’organiser ces événements, de produire des publications ou tout autre produit culturel ont ouvert la voie à des narrations plus proches du vécu des gens et de la complexité de leur identité d’aujourd’hui. Tous unis contre la cartographie La dernière parution du magazine Chimurenga fait la part belle à la cartographie par des textes et des cartes. Elle présente une exploration des machines de guerre africaines, des zones influences géopolitique de Kadhafi surnommé le dernier roi d’Afrique, les enjeux de l’eau présentée comme source potentielle de conflits après le pétrole, les parcours de la drogue, les centres de formation de football, les pays secrets et les revendications sécessionnistes, la carte soft power qui montre la présence des institutions culturelles des grandes puissances dans les villes africaines jointe à la connexion satellite et fibre optique dans une carte « Africa rising » des mégapoles avec mots clés de leur productions culturelles et leur ancrage dans le monde, des histoires des anciens migrants qui rentrent sur le continent 2. J’apprécie les choix des sujets, le ton des textes qui dialogue avec les cartes, et le mélange la sobriété des traits monochromes des cartes. Ces cartes ne démarquent pas les frontières du pays, héritées de la colonisation, à l’exception lorsque ces frontières sont également des lignes de front ou des sphères d’influence. Par contre, je me suis demandé pourquoi cette répétition de la forme de l’Afrique sur chacun des schémas, pourquoi ne pas prendre pour acquis le fait que le lecteur se refera un contour sur le blanc, pour peu qu’on lui donne quelques repères ville, rivières ou autre. La provocation de Trefon, plus de drapeaux pour pallier au manque d’Etat qui serait traduite par plus de carte d’Afrique pour rappeler l’urgence du panafricanisme est une des possibles lectures. Les limites du continent n’ont pas à avoir peur d’être ignorées. D’un point de vue physique, la mer nous sert de forteresse, Gibraltar et Sinaï étant surarmés, et d’un point de vue de l’histoire et de la nécessaire solidarité, les luttes contre l’esclavage et le colonialisme nous ont soudés plus que n’importe quelle frontière. De plus, la cartographie n’a pas seulement été utilisée pour diviser l’Afrique, elle a aussi été utilisée pour l’isoler et la stigmatiser. Pour sortir de ce piège, il ne suffit pas seulement d’être contre la cartographie, il faut en proposer des alternatives. Ces alternatives se joueront sur la sensibilité et la profondeur. Les cartes prendront de nouvelles dimensions qui les rendront à la fois plus complexes et plus facile à appréhender.

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Chronic Chimurenga, in collabaration with Kwani, 2015. L

On Sharing Content | Cartographier notre unité ou tous unis contre la cartographie ?


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Boda-boda Lounge et la psychogéographie du continent En rassemblant des vidéos des quatre coins du continent Boda Boda Lounge s’est engagé dans une sorte de cartographie alternative. Grâce à Internet comme moyen d’échange des vidéos et avec le concours de plus d’une douzaine de centres d’art éparpillé sur le continent, il a permis à des spectateurs de vivre une expérience qui s’apparente à une déambulation dans différentes villes et des imaginaires de l’Afrique du Sud à l’Egypte, de la Tanzanie au Sénégal. Cette déambulation dans l’intimité de son salon pourrait s’apparenter à l’expérience de dérive des situationnistes des années 1950. En élargissant, à la faveur de la mobilité virtuelle et de l’Internet, leur rapport à la ville à la réalité du continent, on pourrait trouver une application intéressante de leur notion de psychogéographie qui étudie les effets du milieu géographique sur le comportement affectif des individus. Le projet de Guy Debord et consort s’appliquait à une redéfinition de la ville qui se démarque d’une approche ‘fonctionnaliste’3 . Il pourrait aussi s’adapter à une échelle large comme le continent africain, si la fibre optique s’installe plus efficacement sur l’ensemble de son territoire. Il ne s’agira pas alors de nier la fonction du panafricanisme, mais de permettre à chacun d’en définir le contour et les couleurs sur l’écran de son ordinateur ou de son smartphone. J’aime à croire que Boda Boda, dans les années qui viennent pourra rendre compte de ces diverses captations sensibles du réel par la vidéo au travers d’un protocole qui donnera à voir aux publics qui attendent cette invitation au partage.

3

Voir Guy Debord, Introduction à une critique de la géographie urbaine, Publié dans les lèvres nues, n° 6, Bruxelles, 1955. Egalement,Tiziana Villani, Psychogéographies urbaines, corps, territoire et technologies, Erotipia/Rhizome, 2014.

On Sharing Content | Cartographier notre unité ou tous unis contre la cartographie ?


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Reflection from here Essays by Jude Anogwih Shehab Awad Interview by Elizabeth Giorgis


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VAN, Lagos and multimediated poetics: a continuum of contemporary art in Lagos. Jude Anogwih I The moving image is an art form that defines Africa’s most populous nation. Nigeria’s vibrant digital video film industry, also known as Nollywood, is often referred to with regards to making films about or from the continent. The vibrant stories told by Nollywood embody the prevalent happenings that interface with the nation’s landscape, her culture, art, energetic populace and insatiable infiniteness. Although Nollywood focuses its narratives on Africa’s modern and cosmopolitan lifestyle, its cinematic dialect has often produced films that perpetuate a number of cultural stereotypes. Indeed most Western views of Africa and specifically Nigeria stay true to this angle of perception. Plato had warned us against the deceptive implication of seeing. The world’s borders are gradually dissolving as globalization digs its feet further into the depths of our consciousness. There is a liberating wind of freedom of creativity and creative options offered by new media technology across the globe. Digital technology, especially experimental video and sound, though quite new in relationship to other art forms, are now being appropriated in Nigeria to depict our national, socio-economic, cultural and political realities, bringing profound changes. These changes, pioneered by the Video Art Network, Lagos, mediate the marriage between art and technology and the artist’s ability to negotiate the disparate worlds of new media art. VAN Lagos is establishing itself as a key player and reputable platform for new media art through its programmes, workshops and online spaces. It is painstakingly and conscientiously shaping new media art within the discourse of contemporary art in Nigeria. II The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos was founded in December 2007 by curator Bisi Silva with a focus on championing new media and experimental visual art practice such as photography, animation, film and video art, performance, and installation art. The focus within the arts at the time, as well as funding, focussed more on traditional mediums of art such as painting and sculpture, with very few galleries or spaces introducing work in more contemporary forms. In recent times, however, photography has since garnered increasing attention—yet more work needs to be done to sustain the support and promotion of artists in the field. The 2008-2009 video art season at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos introduced many to a medium which had scarcely been utilised in Nigeria. Through a series of workshops, an exhibition, and a catalogue, the initial focus was on practical application, skill and development of artists. Though this remains a key focus, the bulk of the efforts are now directed at artist promotion and support within the international artist network. The Video Art Network Lagos was launched in 2009. The organisation, run by artists Emeka Ogboh, Jude Anogwih and cultural producer Oyinda Fakeye, serves to promote video art activities in Nigeria and offer a platform

Reflection from here | VAN, Lagos and multimediated poetics


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for local artists’ work to be seen internationally. VAN Lagos operates by hosting and curating screenings and exhibitions of both established and emerging video artists, running educational and public programmes, archiving artists’ work and forming partnerships between local artists and international organisations. The introduction of video art into the Experimental Video programme by the Goethe Institute served to bridge the relationship between the film and art industries. Since the screenings take place within a cinema setting and are directed at a new audience, video art is slowly gaining momentum within the creative community. Previous screenings have featured works by Uche Joel Chima, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Emeka Ogboh and Lucy Azubuike amongst others, and are loosely curated around contemporary issues such as the state of the nation, identity and migration. Coming and Going: Before the Walls Come Down, a film by Victor Ehikhamenor, was screened in the CCA Lagos gallery while he proceeded to draw decorative images (rooted in the Isan culture) on the gallery wall. The ephemeral drawing was displayed at his solo exhibition Entrances and Exits: In Search of Not Forgetting, after which it was painted over. Now, it only exists as a video work and limited edition print. Ehikhamenor is not alone in his use of video in relation to his other practice. Performance artist Jelili Atiku, who can be described as the lone ranger of performance art in Nigeria, has turned to the medium as a way to not only document his practice, but to also present it in new ways. Although there are many professional actors, performance art is a highly under-represented art form in Nigeria. Jelili’s work engages with issues around bad governance and social inequalities in Nigeria, and his use of video in capturing and presenting his performances is an important method for archiving and sharing it. Gradually, we are witnessing the blurring of boundaries in media and artistic expression in Nigeria. III In 2012, the Video Art Network partnered with the Goethe Institut, Lagos, to curate the institute’s 50-year anniversary event entitled Lagos_Live, a festival dedicated to media and performance-based art practice. Screens were mounted within and outside Freedom Park, Lagos. The event led to a curatorial partnership and subsequent screening of video works in Harare, Zimbabwe as part of the Afriperforma Festival in 2013. From December 2013 to January 2014, VAN hosted the first international festival of Video Art in Lagos, featuring work curated by Unbound Studio (India) and Where Dreams Cross (Sweden). The works of 20 local and international artists were screened over the course of the festival. The success of the festival has led to the event becoming an annual fixture on the VAN Lagos schedule. Today, several workshops, programs, and projects on video art are held by several organisations in Lagos such as the Goethe Institut, African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) and more consistently, VAN. VAN has facilitated workshops in Brazil, Sudan, and Ghana. It initiated the very first media art course in a Nigerian tertiary institution at the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, and is currently developing a programme in collaboration with Videonale in Germany to host a workshop and exhibition programme in Lagos. IV There are challenges that weigh down on the work we do. First, there are few art spaces, galleries, and museums willing to work with the medium; the management of these institutions is often cautious of time-based art and its conspicuous boundary with other artistic forms (sculpture, painting, drawing and so forth). Also, art schools are yet to create specific units or departments for the purpose of dealing with technology-based art so as to sustain its discourse and engage feedback. In addition, the turbulent electricity light structure, often leaves parts of the city without light for hours, sometimes days, with galleries having to run on generators, at great expense due to rising diesel costs.

Reflection from here | VAN, Lagos and multimediated poetics


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Video Still _Walking in Plastic_ Kai Lossgot Mduduzi Nyembe as performer, Poem by Bandile Gumbi

With the support of collaborators such as the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Goethe Institut in Lagos, there has been a conscious, democratic, exploration and integration of video art within the wide array of artistic forms in the city. More importantly, Nigerian artists are appropriating this medium in their works as painters, photographers, sculptors and so on. In sum, VAN is not only legitimizing new media art as an art form, but also as an intermediate medium that will change the definition of contemporary art in Nigeria.

Reflection from here | VAN, Lagos and multimediated poetics


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You say it best, when you say nothing at all Shehab Awad On the opening night of the Boda-Boda Festival, we were lucky to screen the works of the late Cameroonian artist and critic Goddy Leye. The organizers were spot on to recognize Leye’s videos as important to showcase at such an event – an event whose main aim was to emphasize the mobile nature of video as a medium. In We are the world (2006), Leye is comfortably laying back on a bed, surrounded by a bounty of fruit on either side, that he casually picks from and eats, as he repeatedly sings the chorus of Michael Jackson’s hopeful anthem of the same title. I found something so fascinating in the way he recited those words, “we are the world, we are the children” again and again, with a mouthful of fruit, that I couldn’t quite figure it out at first. The week after the open call was over, I was delighted to finally get to do what had motivated me to take part in this project from the beginning; to watch all the submissions and give feedback to the organizers. I was thrilled to be included in the selection committee, to decide on the final videos that were to be screened during the three days of the festival. It felt like such a natural process, and conversation between me, Molemo Moiloa and Jude Anogwih, I felt, flowed organically. We created a space that allowed for freewheeling opinions to be shared, based mostly on how we felt about the videos, and loosely on the broad context of the Boda-Boda Project. I noticed that the videos I was most attracted to seemed to either say something effortlessly, or not say much at all. And then I realized that what I found inspiring about Goddy Leye’s We are the world was the strength he perpetuated by simply not giving a fuck. I think what I find frustrating about video art coming out of Egypt is that it feels so loaded to me. And I think part of that comes from artists’ discomfort at experimenting with the potentially intriguing banality of a medium whose territory they feel they have not yet claimed. Video art is neither taught nor recognized by Egypt’s public art universities, and was only recently accepted by the state-sponsored annual Youth Salon, a nation-wide competition held every year at the Palace of the Arts in Cairo for artists under the age of 35. The American University in Cairo’s visual arts curriculum – the only alternative certified art program offered in Egypt – teaches video art under the umbrella of time-based media, and that too, only after their curriculum was reformed in 2011/12. To this day, I still notice a hint of unwarranted pride in some artists’ voices when they mention that their next project will be a video. The feeling that video art is still viewed as a foreign medium whose skills must be “mastered”, combined with what little exposure there is to the many forms of this practice, leaves little room for the futile and narcissistic exploitation that is essential to break down those invisible barriers. The Boda-Boda project acknowledged the difficulty for African artists and their work to travel and cross borders. The festival sought to openly talk about the precarious nature in which we function, largely due to the lack

Reflection from here | You say it best, when you say nothing at all


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of resources that characterizes our continent. The project aimed at not only highlight these facts, but at also proposing a viable working model that would enable the work of African artists to be seen and shared by a great number of people. It relied on the weightless and free-floating nature of video to do so. I hear so many young artists rightly complaining about the lack of funding and support available for them to produce their videos. And as much as I understand – and relate – to that sentiment, I also strongly advocate owning the unfortunate circumstances that we are forced to exist within by letting go of the lighting equipment, and simply renting a space and hiring actors. I wish to see more artists shift their focus away from perfecting technique, and move instead towards just pressing record; I would rather watch a low-def, slightly incomprehensible video that is sincere in its lack of direction or intention than watch an over-edited video that is heavy with narration and visual references.

Video Still _Bleached Lips (LIVE)_ Chrisantha Chetty

The only thing that separates video art from other media is the mere technology of it, which is already acknowledged and forgotten the second the record button is pressed and released. Emphasis should not be placed on the technique in which it was shot, or how complicated post-production was, but rather on the ability to capture the meaningless-ness of it all – or not! It’s like when you have to make a cheeky joke with an acquaintance to take your relationship to the next level. The cheeky joke is necessary. Otherwise, we will remain stuck in a heavy exchange of niceties that burden every encounter.

Reflection from here | You say it best, when you say nothing at all


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Video Art in Ethiopia Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis I think video art is an effective tool; a very effective tool, particularly at this juncture in Ethiopian history. Like with so many African countries, Ethiopia too is going through massive transformations; neighborhoods are being dismantled, neighbors who have lived together for hundreds of years are being torn apart in the cause of roads, high-rise buildings, and all kinds of other fetishes of so-called modernity. Indigenous infrastructures are being dismantled. For example people used to get together during funeral or weddings- that’s no longer there as they have been forced to live apart in the outskirts of the city [Addis Ababa]. So, video art becomes a very important way to capture the moment, because things are really disappearing. Along with the physical, of course, memories are being destroyed as well. Video art catches what is ready to disintegrate at any moment. Many of our artists now work with video. One particular video work that strikes me is by an artist called Mulugeta Gebrekidan who works in an area called Arat Kilo which has been totally destroyed. Arat Kilo used to be the centre of the town – during Emperor Menelik’s time and after – a place where all the modern and sophisticated people got together. It has been totally been annihilated now. His video is situated right within the ruins of Arat Kilo, and features a group of people sitting down, drinking, eating, and entertaining themselves. An older man is reading a newspaper in the midst of these ruins, just befuddled. It looks like he is sitting in his living room, befuddled by this whole situation, not really recognizing what’s happening, trying to normalize things by reading his newspaper. Meanwhile, the younger generation are entertaining themselves in the midst of these ruins, without any heed to what is happening to the city of Addis Ababa- bringing about layers of questions within the young generation setting. A pregnant woman, with her boyfriend, looks as if she is hoping that things will be calmer in the future. Video art is emerging a popular form with younger artists as a way to grasp a past they do not know, a past they really haven’t acknowledged, a past that is totally disappearing – as also a present in which they don’t know what’s happening, a present where everything is under construction, where everything is transforming. You get up in the morning and Addis Ababa has changed; it changes everyday. The present is amorphous- very unstable, and the future is unknown. I think this is why photography and video are becoming really popular now; as a way for artists to express their subjectivity around this present moment. The video art is not that technologically sophisticated, since the form is new, the technology is new, and resources are hard to find. Yet, even with all these limitations, artists are producing critical and cutting-edge works on video. What is of some concern is that they are not getting the platform they deserve in the African art word as well as the Western art markets because their material source is not yet sophisticated enough. The western art world might dismiss them, but in fact, these artists live in the contemporary experience of Africa. They should find other, more suitable platforms, because they are documenting the experience of the post-colony. Development has become a major discourse. Development is also a force that encroaches on citizenship today. There is no stable identity that we can look for. And video catches this; video captures what transformations means in the Ethiopian context. It is almost as if painting, a more traditional Ethiopian art form, cannot capture what is going on in the country.

Video art practice | Things to say in a Multi-media environment


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Photography is another medium that artists are venturing into. We have young artists who are wonderful photographers, who are looking at the city through all kinds of angles. The artist Michael Tsegaye for instance, not only documents what is happening in Addis Ababa through photography, he also finds ways to memorialize spaces. The artist’s father was buried at a spot which came in the way of a road that was being built. The gravesite was demolished because of road construction. Through photography, he tells a story about that gravesite, how it was dismantled, how his father’s remains were dismantled, and how people who can afford it can as they did, which is to take those remains to another part of the city to be buried again. Burial sites are supposed to be sacred in the Ethiopian psyche, but even they are violated by the process of development. This is our trajectory – in this city, and in this country. More so than photography, video cuts through the moment. An artist by the name of Berhanu Ashagrie works on the Arat Kilo ruins, with the doors and fences of houses that were destroyed (and are now being sold on the open market). He works on the doors and windows that are being left there for other people to buy them, and paints them with a shade of green paint, which becomes coarser and gaudier with each shade of green he paints on. He is signifying a larger point about the city and how the city is transforming: from what was once a quaint place with a mélange of architecture, including colonial, Italian and modern architecture to another place where that mélange has disappeared in place of something that imitates Dubai or Shanghai; a city where even major monuments are desecrated by allowing big conglomerates to advertise on top of them. He turns his concern for the city into a big, public dialogue. The artist I referred to earlier – who produced video art around the transformation of the Arat Kilo area – produced a performance around this monument. He turned into a hero, dressed with a spear and shield, like an old Ethiopian patriot, and stood still at a busy intersection. A lot of people surrounded him, and they seemed to really identify with what he was trying to say. People were driving by and blowing their horns, people were shouting “Power, move on brother” and giving other kinds of encouragement. The people who surrounded him identified with the same kind of desire, and the situation that he was trying to express. And that turned into a very powerful performance video. So, video has become an important tool, particularly at this time in Ethiopian history, to capture the moment because our memories are rapidly disintegrating. Video catches it all before it shuffles away.

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Failures Essay co-written by Euridice Kala and Molemo Moiloa

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Four thoughts on failure: call and response Euridice Kala and Molemo Moiloa Power//Failure MM: As a ubiquitous feature of the African continent, the Power Failure – as a term – is a misnomer. For the power does not fail, it is turned off. In many a country, the turning off is prepared, and prepared for. People time their arrival home so as not to have to climb too many flights of stairs, keep water in their bath tub in case the electricity is out too long to pump the water, the wealthier buy houses according to how much space there is in the back yard for a generator. We become ready for this failure, and any other related. And rejoice when it’s over. When the lights come on. EK: Reminiscing on a state of joy, just after failure…I remember when I was a child and we would go for hours without electricity in Maputo, the joy of having it back somehow cancelled those dreaded hours without electricity, I guess there was hope in the air that power would be restored and so would a nation that depends upon it. As if we were giving way to the concerns of others, responding to communal deficiencies and connecting at some level. Therefore around failure, we could find a sense of commonality. MM: Commonality but potentially also distinction. Distinction of what is necessary and what is superfluous. What luxuries are required for presentation, aesthetic or a perceived form of modernity of ‘culturedness’ versus the present urgencies, feeding the kids, learning for an upcoming test, getting up the stairs. The content is more important than the size of the TV screen. EK: Is culture not urgency after all? The sharper that flame burns the bigger the hope for a better test score or even reaching the top of those stairs. Thus so much energy is put into success through failure or being able to work life against adverse situations –power failures. Money and Failure MM: If one runs out of generator diesel when one can afford more, it is deeply frustrating. If one runs out of generator diesel and cannot afford more, one lights a candle. EK: That is not a question when diesel money is available, when generators are working full-force and they manage to pollute the space with their engines roaring through metros, one louder than the next. Castrating the sense of peace, one can ask where and should you find peace in a city-an African city that is- I am convinced that the ailments are far more dangerous than the benefits. I always imagine generators should be working on organic fuels; perhaps it’s time to think of urine? As far as I

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am concerned the engine of a generator should be an easy piece to assemble, as someone thought of pee?? MM: yes, I’m sure someone has. There is no shortage of time and imagination when your laptop and cellphone batteries are dead. EK: cellphone’s and laptop’s batteries are ‘dead’. The term ‘dead’ almost renders these objects an animated and independent existence, and thus it communicates the establishment of an emotional connection with technologies that dependent upon power- upon live structures that connect us to larger platforms for continuous validation of our own existence. It is in my view that it is a counter- exercise to romanticize silence and darkness- as we find ourselves dysfunctional in such contexts. One could also argue that on this continent (Africa), it’s almost impossible to completely remove oneself from others, to be fully content with technology may not be the entire story. Preparing for failure // being prepared to fail MM: Preparing for failure and being prepared to fail are not the same thing. To be prepared to fail is to willingly accept failure (of electricity or otherwise). To prepare for failure is to accept its possibility and also to plan a response. In both cases, one might still be pleasantly surprised by success. EK: If we must go through the holistic experience and full-on circle between success and failure, and observe that they perhaps are not binaries but reason for the other to exist. In that sense much closer to each other. And living in such proximity to each other, they provide a final product. And that the final product is neither nor but a combination of both. FAILURE>SUCCESS>FAILURE>SUCESSS>FAILURE>SUCCESS>FAILURE>SUCCESS>FAILURE>SUCCESS> FAILURE> SUCCESS= WHATEVER PRODUCT THERE MAY BE. MM: and production is the point is it not? Production and then reflection. And reflection is inherent in the process of failure and then success. EK: as long as reflection is part an inherent part of the process of production, failure will always have a platform to redeem itself. And success a way to re-define itself- according to the many contexts where the terms are being implemented and to what extent these two terms are being implemented. Starting small//big MM: Sometimes, even when the power is out, we still turn switches. Of the kettle when we feel like having a cup of tea, or a dark room as we walk in. Sometimes, we forget to turn things off again. We go to bed, and when the power comes on again in the middle of the night, the room becomes bright and the TV starts talking. EK: The interesting thing about power is that it’s always there, even when it’s not, we assume it’s there. We find

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ways to convey function and manifest across different aspects of life. Perhaps blame it on our imagination; we need to move on somehow- it’s the only way we can do it. What if we did not imagine or even subconsciously left the power on? Perhaps there is power in imaging that electricity will return somehow. MM: Point made! EK: :-) Conclusion The Boda Boda Lounge Project was conceived of as a project that would function within the potential, possibilities and limitations off all involved organisations. This meant that each organisation determined its own flow, composition and curation. In so doing, the project became rhizomatic, decentralised and to a greater or lesser degree localised. This kind of ‘spreading’ had the potential to make the project cover a large metaphorical surface but also potentially spread it quite thin. It’s difficult to say, as no one person witnessed the whole project, it being manifest at one time in many spaces. But also there was no singular determiner of what constitutes quality, aesthetics or a ‘good exhibition/screening’. In so doing the project perhaps conveniently circumvents failure. However perhaps failure is not what we understand it to be in a multimodal-multicontextual-multivocal project such as this one. The terms failure and success have been used loosely in relation to power/ electricity as it was noted from initial engagements with many of the spaces across the continent - as a major challenge. And also, as a factor that may have seemed at the moment fractionally far-fetched, it still lured in our minds as a possible organic intervener in our plans, production and manifestations of the project. Aspects of the project such as being able to easily communicate via online tools [skype] to arrange and manage the project, and the oscillations in internet connections across the continent, proved a challenge. Still these moments of [mis]communication did not deter the act of “doing “ the project. Here is a apt moment to reference back to texts and allusions that have been used in previous occasions to illustrate much the same point. such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s New Yorker essay Lights Out in Nigeria, Jean Katambayi’s work and his position on electricity, and many other cultural producers who throughout have used the topic as a theme for work across the African continent and it’s diaspora.

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Boda Boda Lounge Project 2014 Edition Participating artists Akwaeke Emezi (Nigeria) Ududeago Bongani Khoza (RSA) Vodacom Golf Village, Makhulong and Rand Airport Time Lapsed Chrisantha Chetty (RSA) Bleached Lips Live! Justine Gaga (Cameroon) Moving Kai Lossgott (RSA) Walking in Plastic Maimuna Adam (Mozambique) Packing Your Bags Vincent Bezuidenhout (RSA) Banned Erick Msumanje (Tanzania) The Devil’s House Ezra Wube (Ethiopia) Hisab Tétshim And Fran Mukanday (DRC) Callioux

http://www.vanlagos.org/events_BodaBoda_artists.html

Boda Boda Lounge 2014 | Participating artists

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Boda Boda Lounge Project

Space Bios #‎BodaBodaLounge‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎Chimurenga‬‬ ‪#‎Onlineplatform‬‬ Chimurenga is a project-based mutable object, an occasional print magazine, a workspace and a platform for editorial and curatorial activities. Founded in 2002 by Ntone Edjabe. Ongoing Chimurenga projects include: the Chronic, a future-fwd, pan African, quarterly gazette; the Chimurenga Library, a pop-UP institution, an occasional installation of research projects, an online archive of publishing initiatives; The Pan African Space Station, an internet based music platform. ‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎Picha‬‬ ‪#‎Lubumbashi‬‬ The association Picha is an initiative that promotes artistic creation taking as ‘scene’ urban space as a medium and the images and words, in every sense that these two terms can induce. He wants to make an artistic look to endogenous reflection on its history and present environment. It has, for this purpose two tools: the art center and the biennial. ‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎VoicesInColour‬‬ ‪#‎Bulawayo‬‬ Voices in Colour is an arts organization set up 2011. The mission is to connect contemporary cultures and initiatives through creative platforms of exhibitions, residencies and workshops. VIC emphasizes the need for contemporary tertiary art education in the S.A.D.C and professionalization of the arts sector. VIC also creates a platform for creative collaborations. #‎BodaBodaLounge‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎Njelele‬‬ ‪#‎Harare‬‬ Njelele Art Station is an urban laboratory (independent art space) located in downtown Harare that focuses on contemporary and experimental visual art practice. Njelele is a meeting place for critical dialogue where ideas are birthed and resonate out into the city through projects that provoke discussion and engage with the general public. ‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎Medina‬‬ ‪#‎Bamako‬‬ Exhibitions, meetings, conferences, lectures, film screenings, are services that offer the Medina Arts and Culture of Bamako to its visitors. Medina is an agora of artistic creation in Bamako, set in the heart of the Malian capital in the old Bamako, at Medina Coura. Former high place of fashion and area of Amadou Hampaté Ba great writer, of Studio Photo Sakaly, where also lived the famous photographer Malick Sidibé. A quarter that has marked the city in 1970, thanks to the artistic influence: writers, musicians, painters ... all coasted in this high place of creation. Bold challenge, of wanting breathes new life into this neighborhood to restore his creative genius.

Boda Boda Lounge 2014 | Space bios


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Boda Boda Lounge Project

‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎AlleSchoolofFineArtsandDesign‬‬‪#‎AddisAbaba‬‬ Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, founded in 1958, is the major Art institution in Ethiopia that teaches Fine Arts and Design subjects in a higher educational level. The school currently runs five BA and two MA programs and jointly works with other local and international institutions and professionals on various educational and professional projects. ‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎32degreesEast‬‬ ‪#‎Kampala‬‬ 32º East | Ugandan Arts Trust is a centre for the creation and exploration of contemporary Ugandan art. Based in the capital, Kampala, 32° East aims to provide an arts community with information, resources and networks to explore, research and produce contemporary art in Uganda. ‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎Townhouse‬‬ ‪#‎Cairo‬‬ Townhouse was established in downtown Cairo in 1998 as an independent, non-profit art space with a goal of making contemporary art and culture accessible to all without compromising creative practice. Townhouse supports artistic work in a wide range of media through exhibitions, residencies for artists, curators and writers, educational initiatives and outreach programs. #‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎CentreSoleildAfrique‬‬ ‪#‎Bamako‬‬ Le Centre Soleil d’Afrique est régi par un statut associatif, obtient son accord cadre ONG Culturelle en Janvier 2014. Crée en Mars 1999, il procède son propre local situé dans une zone économique de Bamako, grâce au soutien financier de la Fondation Prins Claus. Il s’investi dans la promotion et la valorisation des arts visuels contemporains et œuvre pour l’amélioration des conditions de vie et de travail des jeunes au Mali. ‪#‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎VANLagos‬‬ ‪#‎Lagos‬‬ The Video Art Network Lagos (VAN Lagos) is a Lagos based New Media art organization, established by the collaborative efforts of artists Emeka Ogboh, Jude Anogwih and cultural producer Oyindamola Fakeye. The organizations objectives are to develop educational and public programmes that promote and create new media art awareness in Nigeria. This is realized through curated screenings and exhibitions of both established and emerging New Media artists. #‎BodaBodaLounge‬‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎KinArtStudios‬‬ ‪#‎Kinshasa‬‬ KAS/Kin ArtStudio project Is a cultural, non–profit Organization, was founded in 2010, by the congolese visual artist, Mwilambwe Bondo, KAS is an artist initiative serves as a laboratory for developing talent on an national and an international level. which favors the creation or the innovation in the field of visual arts and other forms of contemporary artistic expressions in Kinshasa, DRCongo, in Africa and in the World. #‎BodaBodaLounge‬ ‪#‎HostingHub‬‬ ‪#‎VANSAVisualArtsNetworkofSouthAfrica‬‬‪#‎SouthAfrica‬‬ VANSA operates as a support point and development agency for contemporary art practice in South Africa. VANSA develops industry knowledge, resources, networks and projects that are concerned with realising new social, cultural and economic possibilities for contemporary art practice in the South African – and wider African – context.

Boda Boda Lounge 2014 | Space bios


Profile for PAN!C

Boda Boda Lounge Project: From Space (Scope) to Place (Position)  

Boda Boda Lounge Project- A Transcontinental Video Art Project The contributors to the publication include: Portia Malatjie, Dineo Seshee B...

Boda Boda Lounge Project: From Space (Scope) to Place (Position)  

Boda Boda Lounge Project- A Transcontinental Video Art Project The contributors to the publication include: Portia Malatjie, Dineo Seshee B...

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