Вы сейчас просматриваете Reverse Safari. Contemporary Art of Africa

As the title suggests, Reverse Safari. Contemporary Art of Africa seeks to reverse the historically inherent dynamics that existed both in the relationship between Western countries and Africa, which gave rise to the “White Hunter” syndrome, characterizing a person who usually brings from Africa exotic “trophies”, the items acquired by force and symbolizing conquest.

To this day, we often speak of Africa and its forms of art and culture as if they were created by one nation, when in reality Africa is a vast and diverse continent consisting of 54 countries and about 3,000 ethnic groups, speaking more than 2,000 different languages.

The main goal of this project is to capture as accurately as possible the current situation in the African art and culture and, above all, to emphasize the rich and complex nature of its creativity. Pieces of art that offer a way to explain themselves, without mediators or preconceived and biased schemes.

The exhibition brings together works of more than 30 artists belonging to different generations offering the visitor a way to identify the main phases of evolution the creative nature of contemporary African artists went through. The first stage which followed the independence gained in the 1960s consists in glorification of roots and cultural belonging.

The second stage, which lasted from the late, can be described as an attempt by artists to free themselves from the strict constraints of asserting their origins. A negation turned affirmation in the form of an outcry: “I’m not African. Not an exotic entity! I am an artist!”

The third phase is the one in which African artists appear to find peace and demonstrate that they have achieved considerable iconographic and indigenous maturity. These artists have nothing more to prove with their work — the need for ethnic justification for the rudiments of post-colonialism is no longer felt without
ignoring the roots.

Contemporary African artists follow natural patterns marked by “post-medialism”, which allows them to ceaselessly alternate between different techniques, using occasionally one or the other depending on the desired expressive result. The exhibition aims to highlight various themes, well-defined working methods,
numerous iconographies, strategies for contemporary self-representation, and different technical processes that have been implemented, including those of an installation and technological nature. Video art and photography are gradually becoming more and more important in the African art landscape, employed by artists as efficient means to convey meaning.

Painting and sculpture continue their never-ending evolution, keeping their syncretic dynamics, cultural origins and cosmopolitan iconography, use of recycled materials, and technical polymorphism. The elements gathered while preparing this exhibition suggest that the rich creative treasures unfolding before our eyes are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the continent that has yet to show us its best
side.

It is especially worth noting the presence of Russian artists in the exhibition who are passionate about African culture. Vasilii Vlasov and Mikhail Pogarskii traveled across Africa in the footsteps of Nikolai Gumilev and created a dozen works of art inspired by the flora, fauna and African poetry. Olga Michi depicts the cultural uniqueness of the modern East Africa ethnic groups living in the south of Ethiopia, the north of Kenya and Tanzania.

The tradition of turning to other cultures, borrowing and aesthetically reworking the languages and codes of various civilizations has always been characteristic of Russian art which seeks its own in the foreign and often perceives the foreign as a powerful resource for the reproduction of self-determination strategies.

Alessandro Romanini