Africa and its diaspora: convergences

It’s not that easy to put a finger on the relationship between African artists and those from the African diaspora. In a globalised world in which African centres are increasingly dynamic, couldn’t it be said that we are currently witnessing a convergence of forms and sources of inspiration? When referring to African artistic creation, Sudanese painter Ibrahim el-Salahi – who, along with Ahmed Shibrain and Kamala Ishag, founded the Khartoum School – uses the image of the tree. A tree has roots, a trunk and branches. And in his view, many artists from Africa or the African diaspora experiment with global issues and forms (branches), but also feel the need to bear in mind where they come from and relate their work to their origins (roots)… Defining “contemporary African art” and distinguishing it from (or likening it to) that of the continent’s diaspora potentially opens up a can of worms. The risk is to oversimplify it, or else to put everything into the one box. “We can only use this expression if we don’t claim that there’s only one way to make art, and if we avoid speaking about African art and African identity in the singular,” explains Rocco Orlacchio, director of the Voice Gallery, in Marrakech, which he founded in 2011 and whose objective is to stifle the resurgence of orientalist tendencies. According to curator Marie-Ann Yemsi, who headed up the 11th edition of the Bamako Encounters, “one of the major issues today is to de-exoticise gazes, to debunk misconceptions and unravel them in order to show Africa as it is. Stripped of fantasies.” Indeed, Africa comprises 54 countries and a wide range of increasingly numerous artistic centres, historically Niger, Senegal, Morocco and South Africa. And beyond the generalities that gloss over reality, the question of origins is also...

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Brenner’s Jewish diaspora on display at Gadcollection

Paris, 11 June 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA). From 13 June to 13 July 2012, the Gadcollection Gallery is displaying silver photographs by Frédéric Brenner. The series, consisting of sixteen prints, is entitled “Diaspora”. For it he examined Jewish diversity through to numerous portraits. His photographs illustrate the everyday life of each of the diaspora, sometimes with humour, authenticity, and sophistication. They enable the onlooker to discover and understand what makes the identity of one of the most ancient communities in the world: its diversity through its geographic spread, its unity through its religion and the perpetuation of traditions ensuring the continuity of a collective Jewish memory. Having won the Niépce Prize at 22 after his first exhibition, the French photographer has been touring the world for 25 years, taking photographs of the Jewish diaspora. He has displayed all over the world and produced three movies: Tykocin recounts the photographer’s trip to Poland by questioning invented memories, particularly in a Polish village; The last Marranos questions the most secret life of the Jews living in Tras-os-Monte who escaped the Portuguese Inquisition by hiding their religion; Madres de Desparecidos, stories by Argentinian women who lost a child and people who forever relive exile and separation. Brenner has also published numerous books including Jérusalem Instants d’éternité (1984), Israël (1988), Marranes (1992), Jews/America/ A representation (1996), Exile at home (1998), and Diaspora...

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