My personal highlight at the huge art exhibition The Armory Show, an event that took place in NYC from the 3rd to the 6th of March, was its focus area dedicated to contemporary artists from the African Diaspora. I entered the impressive complex at Pier 94 and made my way straight to the focus area “African Perspectives“, which was curated and organized by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba from the online art magazine Contemporary And (C&).
It was a definitely a “kid in a candy store” situation – being surrounded by modern art, photography and installations by young contemporaries like Namsa Leuba (Guinea/Switzerland), Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya), Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze (Nigeria), Francisco Vidal (Angola), Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga (Democratic Republic of Kongo) and established well-known artists like El Anatsui (Ghana).
In a panel discussion some of the artists discussed the topic of identify and shifting their work from a focus on self to a wider storytelling from their individual perspective. A key theme in the discussion: What is African Art? What makes African Art different from European Art and is the terminology African Art confining artists to a box? There are still visual expectations from audiences end exhibitors when it comes to African Art = masks or any kind of “tribal” art. Needless to say, none of these expectations were met at this event.
Personally, I love the term African Art/African Artists and I think it is great that artists from the Diaspora are starting to be represented at art events. It shouldn’t be conceived as a term that limits artists – it should be considered as an empowering movement that claims a space in the art world.
Check-out more exhibitions for Contemporary African Art in NYC:
- Aida Muluneh ” The World is 9″ – 3rd March – 16th April, David Krut Projects/Gallery
- 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair – 6th – 8th of May, http://1-54.com/new-york/
Images below – top to bottom – by:
- Namsa Leuba (1-8)
- Cyrus Kabiru (9)
- Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga (10-11)
- El Anatsui (12)
- Francisco Vidal (13-14)
- Panel Discussion (15)
- Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze (16-17)