Monday, 7 November 2016

Lagos Art Fair X

Nigerian | Akinwande Ayodeji Akinola

 It is quite an art to offend and impress at the same time. You have to find the rhythm in the words written and have a great sense of poetic timing along with plenty of old-fashioned love. African Art can do this so simply especially when it comes to how to commercialize Art. To make African Art as desirable as European Art. To Westernize a Continent, to create honey traps for Artlovers. Art Fairs, Auction Houses, Benefits and Private Views. This seems so upside down for most Africans but it is essential for the best of African Art be made visible to the wider world. What is usually so inclusive and necessary within most African Societies has been replaced by something more commercial, soulless and empty art. Art that is appealing in it's obvious availability for the Super rich and doable for those on a budget. The tables have turned and Westernized Africans are coming home with different appetites than previous generations. Many are seeking new creative identities. Talk of Cultural Independence is still something relatively few discuss but there are those that are finding creative ways to sell artworks and take control of what is regarded or considered culturally significant in order to stay one step ahead of the Western influences on Africa. Many are also wanting the exclusiveness of a London Gentlemen's Club, along with a what-is-mine-is-mine style attitudes and a selfishness that would make even the first explorers turn their heads in despair. We are here, stuck between a British Colonial black-lead style future or finding a comfortable solution to an authentic African Art experience that satisfies all parties. 
South African Cartoonist | Karl Schulschenk
So why Art? What is in it for the people? To create an elite group that can then exclude the majority. The Colonialists must be smiling in their seats of power. "They trained you well in London I see." The aim is to break the chains of cultural serfdom Highlight what Art can achieve and gather together various artists from Africa that can seek to find commonalities and build bridges not create divisions. And what of imagination, the way West Africa has for centuries been able to converse with spirits and gain a far greater understanding of their inner-selves via Voodou. Are they to reject all that they are and keep on nodding, whilst knowing that what they are giving up is their whole identity, their uniqueness? The Organizers are just asking those participating in this rush to Market, to be framed and essentially frame themselves in more ways than one. They are trying desperately to show the Continent about how important it is to package yourself up for Market. To be pigeon-holed like some Jack-in-a-box for a chance to make some paper money. What use is money when nobody sees any value in it's currency. If the artists are to sell their original works of art, how are the Museums able to exhibit their works, when they have all been sold to the lowest bidders? This irrational desire to sell Art in this way is like putting the cart before the horse.

Zimbabwean Photographer Kudzanai Chiurai - State of a Nation

We will always be misunderstood. Some even choose to misunderstand because to understand is to take the responsibilities of actions, investments made. Who wins out in the end, perhaps nobody. The truth-tellers must hold their ground and make what they say resonate with others. The words are of no importance but it is more about the intent. The purpose of using the words. The struggle to seek truth and to find the best solutions that makes the most sense. That is all we can ever finally achieve, if anything at all. What Power doesn't understand is the importance of feeling included in the conversation. To be active and having a voice however small or large, it is of such importance. That sense we were here when this happened and we hardly ignored it, we spoke at great length about it. We were included and that was the importance of our time. To start to change what has gone on for far too long. The systematical institutional racist educational upbringing that has set African minds thinking they are inferior or superior if they only excluded the majority. How very Un-African, a strange and vulgar mentality and an ugly way of understanding the world. There must be a better way.

Nigeria | Ade Adekola | Flags and Conflict

The work all looks the same, the subject matters are for Western eyes. That pathetic prerequisite, that vacant global middle-class feeling of self-satisfaction. That empty sense of a false consciousness in creating illusions and seemingly doing something worthwhile but so incredibly insincere about the outcome. In fact, so cynical most vote for both sides equally, taking no stance but more, taking no chance of the possibility of being wrong. Ensuring a safe outcome in a calculated Machiavellian style way. Those in the World of Art, well the better part of the Art World, are trying to discourage this type of buyer as it effects the works created and destroys the joy and pleasure in the making of the Art. The real excitement comes when the effectiveness has been achieved within the production process.  Generally speaking, World Art has become far more theatrical and almost plays into the hands of the Africans and as the middle classes within Nigeria rises this truth will have far more of a punch, or impact than it does right now. There has to be a turning point, a way forward that is on African terms, rather than those set up by the Europeans. The guidelines need to be put into place so that the best of Africa has an opportunity to be seen and celebrated. The pettiness of Academia with only make matters worse with their imperious, officious ways. The thrill of African Art is in it's rawness, in it’s natural state. In it's glorious "otherness", a superb alternative to what is otherwise being mass-produced and sold like tins of beans. The idea an Artist should not be able to live from the creation of Art is absurd, but that difficulty is the life of an Artist the world over.

The reason we remember the Civil Rights Movement in America of the 1960's and 70's is that feeling of wanting so badly to be in that Number. The strength came in the numbers, those so willing to put their necks on the gallows and be counted. That passion is born out when we observe the queues for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History. A waiting-list that stretches right up to Summertime 2017. To be included is a wonderful thing, to be allowed to take part is an unique experience for a Westerner. Lives in America and Europe have been exclusive, they have been State Affairs and are dealt with by trained monkeys from the military. All the responsibilities have been taken away by their so-called, "betters" who have taken up the reins. This reeks of Dictatorship but the West have been so blind to see it, too busy raising money for Wars and Starving Children and HIV/AIDS. Those in the West have unknowingly taken the lazy option but Africa must take note and must grow in confidence to have the basic instinct to know what is good and what is trying far too hard to please? These issues are raised every year yet nothing is done to improve. This reminds me of Cancer Research, it is not in their interest to find an overall cure but more importantly they need to expand, they need to exponentially grow, grow into the Cancer Industry. Now the focus is not so much on a Cure but on Cancer. Next, create the fear by stating half the population will have Cancer. Put out statistics like 1 in 2 will have Cancer in their lifetime  and then the focus is on the necessity and desperate need to increase the budget year after year. The same is happening to the African Art Industry. The constant wheels of power turning, finding ever increasing ways to extract cash from deep pockets and twisting the common donator into a lucrative Cash-cow. This is the merry-go-round of Modernism, the illusion of change is created but only to keep the cogs of power well oiled and turning. What is the necessity for change, there is no motivation to change a thing? We live in a world that relies on technicalities, ways in which we can embellish and exploit those that need us most.  This has created a very cynical and sick society in the West, it would be sad if that same unhappiness is transported to Africa. It is essential that we become aware of what we do today will reflect on Tomorrows World. Throughout all the countries of Africa, Governments need to start to wake up to the true potential and overall benefit for supporting the Arts. Only then can they take back control of their Cultural Identity. In conclusion, by creatively blending Traditional Africa with the Modern in a way that insults neither, African Nations can successfully achieve a genuine and authentic notion of Modern Africa that is in a constant state of creative positive change.


Check out the Fair

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Costa Coffee | Motivate Me

This is excellent. Coffee with attitude. Never a boring cup.

and I like this too...

Friday, 14 October 2016

Notes for later by Joe Pollitt

Notes for later...

I am trying to make quirky observations. Write about the obvious and dismantle the importance of race. Some among me would see me fail, as all they have is the skin on their backs to hold onto. Creating division, segregation and screaming of equality. How hypocritical and illogical it all seems to be to me? 

Anthropology is such a rich subject but it lends itself to thoughts of superiority and inflammatory language of the elite. There is an ugly distance created by the viewer and what is being viewed. No interaction just observation and so it becomes one of the ugliest subjects imaginable. 

The beauty of African Tradition and their Rituals is that they are flexible. You can expand them, tweak them, bend them and change them at a moments notice in order to accommodate those present at any time. It is like Voodou itself, it is kind and generous to everybody. The West Africans belong to an oral culture so nobody is tied up to some strict doctrine. (There are no Voodou Fanatics or Voodou Extremists). The West Africans who were taken as slaves, took with them these practices of honouring the world around them and their expert knowledge of nature. They adapted these practices to suit their new environments. This it is power of the Africa. This is her beauty and her strength. the flexibility to change and evolve perfectly at a drop of a hat. The ability to survive and evolve. Perhaps and I'm going out on a limb here but just maybe this is what true freedom looks like.

The Great British weakness is their inability to be flexible, which makes the society effectively static. This obstinacy cripples their ability to evolve. I have been thinking about Remembrance Day, 11th November at 11.00 O'Clock the public are called to prayer. They observe a 2 minute silence and hang their heads in quiet meditation, thinking about their military actions across the globe. This is their Traditional British Ritual. They remember their War Dead and at 3 minutes past 11 they continue their killings abroad. Here there is no flexibility. It is not a chance to change or apologize for their brutality across the known world. It is cold and calculated as they wallow in the blood or their dead and remember their murderous acts of War. The British inability to be flexible means that they are incapable of taking responsibilities for their actions. Decidedly, this makes Britain an immature and irresponsible Kingdom. What I am trying to achieve by pointing this out, is that Great Britain is inferior to an African Society, because of it's uncompromising ability to change. So we they stuck inside an archaic bubble that is not of their making and seen as unpatriotic if they don't observe these bizarre practices or fail to adhered to the letter of the Law. In reality they pay little if any respect to their dead by allowing others to follow in single file. This murder factory must stop and a sense of global responsibility observed and the perpetrators, at the highest level, should be held to account.

Rethinking all that I have been taught and want to write something out that will try to explain why African Art will shape tomorrow's world. African Art is not a performance by some Celebrity Artist, but more about Traditions and Rituals. It is so difficult for African Artists to work within the parameters of a Western notion of Art when the word "ART" simply doesn't exist on the Continent. It is so difficult for Westerners to understand the complexities of Tradition and Rituals that are practices on the Continent of Africa because they don't conform to any dateline of time frame. The West is dictated to by their rigid Traditions. We must kiss a girl or boy on Valentines Day and send gifts and cards to support a greedy economy; most buy into this nonsense. We are forced to take time off when Jesus was born at Christmas and again send cards and gifts to support a greedy economy; most buy into this nonsense. Everything in the West is structured and ordered, the populations is required to be compliant, this is polar opposite to those in Africa. Africa is far freer than the West as it's Celebrates life in a more personal fashion, this is not only Liberating for the peoples of Africa but is the glue that holds a healthy community together. The West has so much to learn from African Art and this is the vacuum the West has created since the beginning of the last Century.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Poems to Child Miners in Central Africa.

I am thinking about the children being sent down the mines in Congo and it reminds me of William Blake and the chimney sweeps of London Town and this week the Artists of Africa are exhibiting their artworks in the Capital. This is an ideal opportunity to draw attention to these humanitarian issues.…/william-blakes-chimney-sweeper-poems-a-…

Let us write poems for them..This is my poem.


You send the children because the adults are just too big to work in a space that small...I understand, it is hardly your fault, these children have nobody to parent them, so they become the victims of our Modernity. Working for motoki, black-eyed beans or rice and warm sugary cups of tea. Some as young as six years old, wearing battered t-shirts marked with mud, and ripped shorts housing thin grubby knees and feet covered by tattered old stained plimsolls as they squeeze inside holes digging like moles for a dime size metal worth billions.Winners and losers I guess..

Somebody has to suffer so why not the African orphans? Who will care for them in our visible world of maps, drones and high spec cameras based in Outerspace, which can detect all kinds of resources from all around the globe? The child miners are invisible from us here, as we type on upgraded keyboards and thumbing up every message written on smart phones....I wonder how many of these orphaned children think our phones are smart? Capable of making them work like dogs in confined spaces when they should be playing in safe open fields; in parks and learning to ride on stabilized bicycles and swim in chlorinated waters whilst making friends with other kids their age and eating ice-creams? I guess...Not for them hey...This is a disgrace that has not been sanctioned by the Users. It makes us criminals, guilty of having no conscience. We need to resolve this yesterday, not today and tomorrow it will just be too late. Wipe that blood off your hands #Apple #Vodaphone #Nokia #Samsung and I will wash my hands after typing out this poem. I feel sick being apart of this heartless Modernity.

Kofi Mensah 09/10/2016

Everyday News by Kofi Mensah

Everyday News

Sitting overdosing on pointless information. 
Anxiety at an all time high.
Too stressed to leave the house for fear of not 
understanding my mobile on my return.
They have upgraded me. I didn't ask them to and 
what have I done to deserve this promotion?

Checked my emails that are telling me I need to Link-In 
to this Africa, that Africa, Afronauts on the moon 
want to connect and am I interested?
I need to revise my thinking on Word for Windows, 
as it too, has been upgraded and would I like a new 
password as the old one is far too obvious? 

"Open Sesame".....

My Apple is writing me notes. 
I haven't been on iTunes enough so they are 
considering whether or not they want to 
keep me as one of their loyal customers. 
My Kindle has given up on me even though it has a full battery.
Amazon Pride is not being offered to the likes of me. 
Ebay have blocked me for virtually stealing one of their jokes. 
My Supermarket reward card has been cancelled 
and all my points have been donated to those 
far more worthy than myself. 
My line rental is all but expired and I am having 
serious doubts if I actually want to continue at all.....

Notes flying through my letterbox, 
indicating that I am some kind of moron
for not switching my energy supplier.
A handwritten letter thrown on my welcome mat 
from a Church up the road,
with the news saying that they are all praying 
for my soul this coming Sunday.

Meals on wheels left me a message to get in contact 
and would I like to feed the 5000 and
some little fucker has pushed a plastic bag through my window telling me to fill it up for some starving child in Portugal...
Little did they know, I have sent all my spare change
to save an old donkey in Brazil.

Kofi Mensah, 10/10/2016

Friday, 30 September 2016

What if? by Kofi Mensah

Samuel Dalle/Joe Pollitt | The Conductor, 2016

What if?

And what if we were to make Earl Grey Tea an illegal substance, banned all smelly cheeses, boycotted the humble bagel whilst outlawing all crisps, French Champagne and barring all sugars. What then?

What if we were to legalized drugs and allowed only black shopkeepers to sell them; gave every child matoki from Uganda in Primary Schools and fed the poor with free cassava, okra, sweet potatoes from Nigeria, yams from the cancer tree from South Africa and plantain fufu from Ghana. What then?

Human rights, equality for all, FREE TRADE, don't make me laugh. There is a Prohibition on all black people in the USA, Europe and Africa (if they don't own it, you can't have it.) 

Kofi Mensah 30/09/2016

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Poetry for #Blacklivesmatter

Black Lives Matter | Kofi Mensah



This Movement is extremely important. Not just about police brutality in America but black lives across the globe. Here is a poem Kofi wrote that takes on an African beat and plays with the syllables of Black (1) Lives (1) Matter (2) - the poem starts off with 4 syllables and then is reduced to 3 and ends up back with the initial 4 syllables. This is to show how talent, opportunities and lives are squeezed in the middle and then return to normal in the end. Every line is read as a single entity fragmented but also as a whole, as a story told so simply. Not wanting to sound like a singer, a front-man but more like a bass. Not wanting to create a complete band-sound or an orchestra, no, just a bass note of syllables on every line that make up the 4/3/4 style poem. Kofi's intention is to sound like a lost bow-less cello. Saying something as simply as possible, like a jab from a boxer rather than an uppercut or a killer blow.

Black Lives Matter
We cannot stop
Our lives matter
So-We can see
You cannot stop
You will all-ways

Hold us back
We can never
Rise too high
You will cut
Our bite down
Just to say

We made you great
Dreaming the dream
Sight for sore-eyes
That we exist
Going nowhere
So-say no more

Kofi Mensah | 26/09/2016