Toyin Odutola | On Inspiration & Identity


Toyin Odutola is one of my favourite artists. I first wrote about her here where I posted about her exhibition titled My Country Has No Name, an exhibition of pen ink drawings on paper, metallic marker drawings, ink on black board and lithographs. Together, the range of works represent Odutola’s practice which is grounded in an obsessively fine and meticulous application of line that has become the specified visual language through which she explores the human form. Odutola’s work is an extension of being Nigerian born and growing up in the conservative South’s Alabama. She is making a firm indent in the art fraternity with her crafted, multi-layered, textured black ballpoint pen illustrations. Represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, her growing popularity has also landed her a spot on the 2012 Forbes ‘Art & Style’ 30 under 30 list.

SouthXeast: Contemporary Southeastern Art is an exhibition featuring emerging and underrepresented mid-career artists from several southeastern states in the US. This is the fourth edition of this exhibition, which has been presented every three years at Florida Atlantic University since 2005. Co-curated by Rod Faulds, University Galleries director, and guest curator Sybille Canthal Welter, the exhibition results from a thorough review of hundreds of artists recommended by curators, critics, past “southXeast” artists and FAU art faculty. Figurative painter Toyin Odutola’s (Alabama) selected pen and ink drawings focus on identity, specifically the “sociopolitical concept of skin color.”

Odutola and musician/artist Solange Knowles took part in NOWNESS’ series created in conjunction with EDITION Hotels. In this episode entitled “Inspiration,” the pair unpack their shared appreciation for one another: Knowles’ first correspondence with Odutola was after she looked to track down the artist’s intricate, embossed pieces after a sold-out exhibition at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery; she went on to commission an artwork which brought the two creatives closer,

I think the essence of collaboration is being able to lay yourself on the line…The best collaborations are not knowing what to expect; being completely open-minded and having a sense of vulnerability.

– Solange

The pair have a mutual muse in Africa, as reflected in Knowles’ most recent EP release, True—co-written with Dev Hynes—which gave rise to the Cape Town-filmed video to “Losing You,” and My Country Has No Name, the third solo show from Odutula.“It was months and months of creating, so it was really nice to have Solange’s voice in my head as I’m working,” explains Odutola of listening to her friend’s music. “Your message is something that really connected with me; I see myself in your work.”

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Wangechi Mutu | Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami



Wangechi Mutu, People in Glass Towers Should not Imagine Us, 2003

Opening Reception: April 17, 2014
On view: April 18 – July 6, 2014

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami will present Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, a comprehensive survey of Wangechi Mutu, a Kenya-born, New York-based artist whose multi-faceted work captures 21st century global sensibility. This retrospective began at the Nasher Museum of Art and will made its way to the Brooklyn Museum from October 2013 to March 2014 and will be at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in September 2014. The exhibition includes more than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present, including a new site-specific mural and a black box theater projection of her newest video. Approximately 30 of the artist’s sketchbook drawings, dating from 1995 to the present, will also be on view, revealing fascinating insight into her creative process.

This exhibit is part of MOCA’s Knight Exhibition Series, which is made possible by a $5 million endowment allowing MOCA to fulfill its mission to present the best new and multimedia work by local and international emerging and experimental artists to a diverse audience.


Wangechi Mutu, Yo Mama, 2003


Wangechi Mutu, One Hundred Lavish Months, 2004

Since earning her M.F.A. from Yale University in 2000, Wangechi Mutu, who trained as both a sculptor and anthropologist, has come to be regarded as one of the most inventive and critically-engaged artists of her generation.  Combining materials and imagery from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the high fashion industry and science fiction, Mutu creates works that depict fantastical worlds as places for profound exploration of race, gender and power. Her work is a critical investigation of issues ranging from colonialism to displacement, ritual, perceptions of Africa and the female form.

Placing centrality on the female form, Wangechi Mutu’s provocative body of work imagines hybrid creatures and surreal landscapes that comment on commercialism, globalization and cultural norms. We are thrilled to be presenting the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to her work.

– Alex Gartenfeld, MOCA Interim Director and Chief Curator

A new site-specific mixed media mural created for the MOCA presentation will welcome visitors into exhibition galleries, which will be transformed into a forest-like environment populated by the installation of large-scale felt trees. MOCA’s Pavilion Gallery will be transformed into a black box theater for the projection of the artist’s first-ever animated video The End of eating Everything, 2013, in which Mutu works with musician Santigold to bring her elaborate collages to life in a magical narrative set in the sky.



The exhibit incorporates all aspects of Mutu’s prolific practice which includes collage, drawing, installation, sculpture, performance and video. Within this setting, Mutu’s iconic collages will be prominently featured, including new commissions and rare early works. Two other videos are featured in the exhibition: Eat Cake, 2012, which addresses ritual and overindulgence and Amazing Grace, 2005, a meditation on the slave trade and displaced populations.


Still from Eat Cake (2012) by Wangechi Mutu

Other features Ciné Kenya has done about Wangechi Mutu include her incredible work as the artistic director for a Pegasus Warning music video here.

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami

When: April 18 – July 6, 2014,   Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm

Price: General Admission: $5.00   Students & Seniors: $3.00 for concessions prices go here.



Kampala Art Biennale 2014 | Call For Submissions

Kampala Biennale

Kampala Art Biennale is a showcase of contemporary art from Africa with the aim to expose, educate and create debate about the value of art in our society. They are calling all artists working in Africa to apply to partake in the first Kampala Art Biennale. Applications are now open and you are requested to apply online through their website. Application is free of charge and deadline for entries is March 31st 2014.


The first Kampala Art Biennale 2014 is themed: Progressive Africa. The theme is derived from the current Pan African – and increasingly global discussion and discourse that Africa’s economic growth and development is booming and happening right now. Popular phrases heard are: “Africa Is The Future” and “Africa Rising”,

Today…you will come across divergent conversations between different kinds of people; African with African, African with European, Indian with American, all talking about the status of Africa in the global village. Some will say Europe and the rest of the world are moving to Africa for opportunities while others will say African economies are growing into Global markets. In these conversations there is talk about which strategies are the best to accelerate Africa’s progress towards fulfilling the millennium development goals (MDGS) such as curbing poverty, improving formal education…There is increased concern from the west about increased Chinese investment on the continent…All these vibrations suggest one thing; that something is happening on the African continent whether right now as it moves into the future.

The Kampala Art Biennale 2014 is part of this discussion and is calling on African painters, photographers, illustrators, cartoonists, writers and all 2D media artists to present their perception of the current status of Africa through visual art. The verdict will result in over 100 images pro or against the purported progress, with viewers and visitors joining in on the discussion with the help of the visual aids. They believe that this will result in the questioning of African political, social and economic practices.

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Exhibition | Sebawali Sio

Seba Poster 3


Sneak peak of Sebawali Sio’s exhibition at The Shifteye Gallery.


Mon 10th Feb. – Saturday 15th Feb.
Mon-Fri: 10am – 6pm
Sat: 12pm – 8pm

My friends over at The Shifteye Gallery proudly present an exhibition by artist Sebawali Sio. The exhibition shall showcase a combination of Sebawali’s abstract and non-abstract paintings.

Sio has been a painter since her high school years and has been painting more consistently since the beginning of 2013. The subject of her non-abstract pieces tends to be predominantly women as she is fascinated with the female form. Sio’s earlier paintings were solely focused on the body, but eventually evolved to include faces. She draws inspiration from music, fashion, magazines and women she sees everyday. Her influences include Paul Onditi, a Kenyan painter and Harding Meyer a portrait painter. Sio uses mixed media when painting.

For more information, contact –

Ralph Ziman’s “Ghosts” | Yarned & Dangerous

ralph ziman

South African filmmaker and artist Ralph Ziman photographed Zimbabwean street vendors wielding handmade replicas of AK-47s, adorned in traditional Shona style beading. The vibrant multimedia project, aims to highlight issues related to international arms dealing and its devestating influence.

Ziman, a street artist employs piercing colors and images that are arresting with knitted masks and beaded weapons. The obsession with guns and the power they provide is brought to the fore creating a bizarre and almost surreal image. The vendors who star in Ziman’s photos were not at all directed in how to pose with the weapon replicas. Yet, when observing these pictures, one senses that the weapons are dangerous totems to behold.


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Wangechi Mutu | Brookyn Museum Oct 2013 – Mar 2014



Artist Wangechi Mutu in her Brooklyn studio, 2012. Photo by Kathryn Parker Almanas.

October 11, 2013–March 9, 2014
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor

Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey is the first survey in the United States of this internationally renowned, Brooklyn-based artist and will be showing at the Brooklyn Museum until next March. This retrospective began at the Nasher Museum of Art and will make its way to the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami in April 2014 and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in September 2014. The exhibition in Brooklyn has been made possible by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu scrutinizes globalization by combining found materials, magazine cutouts, sculpture, and painted imagery. Sampling such diverse sources as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry, pornography, and science fiction, her work explores gender, race, war, colonialism, global consumption, and the exoticization of the black female body.

Mutu is best known for spectacular and provocative collages depicting female figures—part human, animal, plant, and machine—in fantastical landscapes that are simultaneously unnerving and alluring, defying easy categorization and identification. Bringing her interconnected ecosystems to life for this exhibition through sculptural installations and videos, Mutu encourages audiences to consider these mythical worlds as places for cultural, psychological, and socio-political exploration and transformation.

The exhibition also includes Mutu’s first animation in which she collaborated with musician Santigold. The 8-minute video, The End of eating Everything,marks the journey of a flying, planet-like creature navigating a bleak skyscape. Read more about the animation at Cine Kenya’s previous post here and view an interview with Mutu and Santigold (below), where they discuss the inspiration behind the animation film and how why they decided to work together.

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Afrika Eye Film Festival Nov 8 – 10 2013


The Afrika Eye Film Festival makes a welcome return for its 9th year and will take place at the prestigious Watershed cinema in Bristol, UK.  This year’s theme is ‘Kenya at 50’ in recognition of Kenya’s 50 years of independence. Kenyan films and film-makers are being given centre stage. This includes launching the festival with the first regional screening of David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga’s highly-praised Nairobi Half-Life and the regional premiere of Something Necessary followed by a Q&A session with its up-and-coming director Judy Kibinge (founder of DocuBox).

Tickets for the festival are now available. The festival programme is also available here. Make sure you follow Afrika Eye’s facebook page and twitter for regular updates and fringe events. View Afrika Eye’s fun and beautiful short promo here:

Another festival guest will be director Alain Gomis (Senegal/France), introducing, and later discussing, his internationally-applauded feature, TEY (Aujourd’hui/Today), which stars the actor, musician, poet and hip hop artist Saul Williams (previously seen in the big hit, SLAM).


Other African-themed attractions include music, food, fashion, debates, director Q&A sessions, new shorts, a photo exhibitions and workshops for young people, led by singer Mim Suleiman of Zanzibar (who features on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto V). There is also a short film programme titled EYEFULL which is a 90 minute programme of short films told from an African or Diaspora perspective that will be running alongside the main festival.

at Jahazi Festival 2011 (photo: Peter Bennett)
In addition, there will be an exhibition of Kanga – the highly colourful and boldly designed cloth wraps worn by men and women in east Africa – an African themed menu and a round table debate about media education and the potential for film club exchanges by Bristol/Nairobi schools.
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Exhibition | ‘Archival Impulse’ by Ayana V. Jackson


Ayana V Jackson Drop your chin_Dress my hair, 2013. Archival print 111 x 111cm.

Ayana V. Jackson, Drop your chin/Dress my hair, 2013. Archival pigment print, 111 x 111cm

29th August – 7th October 2013,

The much anticipated new exhibition by American artist Ayana Jackson will be opening on August 29th in Johannesburg at Gallery MOMO and will run until 7th October 2013.

Synopses from the artist past and future exhibitions follow:


Does the brown paper bag test really exist? / Will my father be proud? 2013. Archival pigment print (Ed of 6).

Archival Impulse: The real work of this series does not exist in physical form. It exists in the imaginary; in the space between my reference images, the spectator’s private thoughts/memories/associations, and the reenactments themselves.

At its core, it considers the chapter of photographic history that was underscored by the period of colonial expansion. It considers the role photography played in the architecture of racialized thinking. It considers the potentially violent exchanges between photographer and “subject”, while at the same time considering other interactions between them and looking for traces of agency.

Archival Impulse takes its name from Hal Foster’s idea that by confronting the archive new systems of knowledge can be created. In this case I confront late 19th and early 20th century photographs taken during the period of European colonial expansion. To do this I draw on images sourced from the Duggan Cronin collection created in South Africa, the works of unknown photographers practicing throughout the global south at the time, as well as documentation of reconstructed villages and “native” performers that were touring in Europe’s Human Zoos.

The scholarship of Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Edwards, Okwui Enwezor, Jennifer Bjorek, Pascal Blancher, and Tamar Garb are also informative.   In reading and comparing these texts I have found multiple angles for entering, interpreting and appropriating my reference materials. As visual experiments these final images aim to draw out the multiple ways the originals can be read: ethnographic, anthropologic, pornographic, historical documents, curiosities, etc.

My process involves identifying reoccurring motifs in the original images, interrogating them, performing them, and last, reconstructing them. My primary intervention is in my deliberate choice not to situate the “subjects” in the scenario.

I do this first to bring attention to the fact that these early photographs are theatrical performances written and directed by the photographer and subject alike and as such are fictitious; second to ask questions around the photograph’s potential as agent of propaganda; and last, if not most importantly, to transform this theater into a space where new narratives might emerge.


Death, 2011 Archival Pigment print 145cm x 145cm Edition 6

Poverty Pornography: At its root is about the power of photography. Its motifs, methods, interests, and ultimately its effect on the collective memory.   While I have narrowed in on particular moments in photographic history and certain genres of the medium, this is not a conversation aimed at supporting binaries between the West and non-West, Colonial power and formerly colonized, Black and White, Rich and Poor, but rather to locate what I believe to be photography’s role in supporting, if not sustaining those binaries and the possibility that society as a whole is as much a beneficiary as a victim of photography’s might.

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag writes;

The frankest representations of war and of disaster-injured bodies are of those who seem most foreign therefore least likely to be known. With subjects closer to home the photographer is expected to be more discreet …The more remote or exotic, the more likely we are to have full frontal views of the dead and dying…It seems that the appetite for pictures showing bodies in pain is as keen, almost, as the desire for ones that show bodies naked…

It is here that the series Poverty Pornography finds its genesis.

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J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere | Sartorial Moments and the Nearness of Yesterday


From left to right: Untitled (1970), Untitled (1972), Untitled (2006)
Credit: J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere

J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Sartorial Moments and the Nearness of Yesterday is the second in The Museum of African Diaspora‘s (MoAD) Curator’s Choice Series. Curated by Olabisi Silva, Director of the Contemporary Centre for Art, Lagos, Sartorial Moments portrays a people defining their place in history.

J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere understood fashion as a personal display of independence, and in the 50 photographs included in this exhibition, dating from 1955 to 2008, he captures traditional Nigerian dress and hairstyles alongside popular Western-style adaptations. Hair, as one of the main identifiers of time and place, became an especially important focus for the artist as he documented the changing body politic of his young nation.

In depicting the complexities of a new and free post-colonial Nigerian society, Ojeikere reveals the degree of influence that the West—particularly the United Kingdom and the United States—has had on the youth of Lagos as they continually negotiate between the old and the new, colonialism and post-colonialism.

About Ojeikere

Born in 1930 in the western part of Nigeria. In his young days Ojeikere incessantly writes the Ministry Of Information, asking them to hire him as an “assistant in the dark room”. His tenacity is rewarded when in 1961 the first television station is founded.

At the eve of the decolonisation he is contacted by the West African Publicity agency. Soon after that he opens his own studio “Foto Ojeikere”. In 1967 he becomes an active member of the Nigeria Art Council, an organisation in charge of organising a festival of visual and living arts.
Hairstyles is his most known collection, involving almost 1000 different hairstyles that give an image of the African woman. He finds these “sculptures for a day” on the street, at a marriage or at work.

With thanks to Fifty One

Exhibition run June 20, 2013 – October 13, 2013

Museum of the African Diaspora
685 Mission Street (at Third)
San Francisco, California 94105
phone: 415.358.7200
fax: 415.358.7252

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GoetheOnMain | Call for Proposals

Photo credit: Lerato Maduna

Photo credit: Lerato Maduna

GoetheOnMain was developed by the Goethe-Institut South Africa and launched in May 2009 at Arts on Main in Johannesburg as a non-commercial, artist-run project space. The multi-disciplinary GoetheOnMain has since hosted a wide range of exhibitions, workshops, events and performances; including visual art, literature, film, music, dance, and theatre projects.

The GoetheOnMain space itself implies a certain conceptual frame – that of the city, or a sense of ‘urbanity’: a focus on the human relation as much as built environment. Previous projects at GoetheOnMain have dealt extensively with politics of space, noting the stratified city, gentrification, issues of access, and a loss of the ‘center’ so typical of many world metropolises, but also of the personal as political – focusing on private narratives, identities, eccentricities, and broader global issues affecting the city dweller.

Project realisation: March to December 2014.

Find the application here. Deadline for submissions: 15 August 2013

With thanks to ContemporaryAnd.