Sunday, 31 May 2009

Parecon: Life After Capitalism

As we saw before the way in which, David Adjaye, the architect plays a vital role in the development of art let us now turn our attention to the ideology of economics and a possible utopian ideal.

I am confident great artwork of the present and future will follow similar lines to what is being expressed in these few interviews with Michael Albert who echoes the thoughts of numerous activists across the globe. Together they have really come up with various possible solutions to global issues.

If the work that is created inside or outside of Africa is more 'Participatory' then the work will being to reflect the thinking of our era on a global basis.

Here is a Youtube interview with Michael Albert talking about his book Parecon: Life After Capitalism.

An economic model for a better world.

This is the first clip of 12.

Here are some reviews from Amazon:

"Michael Albert is an important thinker who takes us beyond radical denunciations and pretentious "analysis" to a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like...." -- Howard Zin. "A program of radical reconstruction, presenting a vision that draws from a rich tradition of thought and practice of the libertarian left and popular movements, but adding novel critical analysis and specific ideas and modes of implementation. It merits close attention, debate, and action." -- Noam Chomsky "... this participatory vision is what Albert successfully provides for activists and academics alike, with the hope that is it will be used to inspire social projects aimed at defeating inequality and leading to people democratically managing their own lives." -- Rob Maguire, ZNet "Albert is ideally suited to synthesizing all the strands running through the anti-capitalist movement." -- The Ecologist "Parecon is a brave argument for ... a much needed...more equitable, democratic, participatory...alternative economic vision." -- Arundhati Roy "He is advocating a top to bottom economic revolution." -- Library Journal "Parecon is a pragmatic and visionary programme that would certainly boost human freedom; we ought at least to try it out." -- Red Pepper "Capitalism not working for you? Michael Albert may be tilting at windmills, but readers are flocking to his book on a system to spread the wealth and work." -- Los Angeles Times "an important contribution to the imaginative tools for everyone who wants to dismantle capitalism." -- International Socialism "A historically informed and logical economic blueprint with the practicality of a hand-tool, and a vision guided by the desire to find nobility in work." -- Kirkus Review

Product Description
'What do you want?' is a query often put to economic and globalization activists decrying poverty, alienation and degradation. In this new work, Albert provides the answer: Participatory Economics, 'Parecon' for short - a new economy and a viable alternative to capitalism.

About the Author
Michael Albert helped found and establish South End Press and Z Magazine, among other institutions. A long-time activist, he now maintains Z's internationally acclaimed web site Znet ( He has written numerous books and countless articles dealing with, among other topics, economics, vision, social change, strategy, globalization, and war and peace among other topics.

For more information:


Chris Ofili and David Adjaye | The Upper Room 1999-2002

Has religion become the new sex in the visual arts? It rather seemed so since at about the end of 2002. It was then that Chris Ofili’s The Upper Room, an extraordinary, room-size installation which has now been re-created in collaboration with the architect David Adjaye at Tate Britain, was first shown at the Victoria Miro Gallery in East London.

Ofili’s work consists of 12 paintings of rhesus macaque monkeys, six to a wall, in a long, low-lit, chapel-like space. Each monkey holds up a goblet, and faces towards a large painting at the high-altar end of the room, also of a monkey, but this one is much larger and less determinate in its shape. In fact, it barely has any features at all, merely a ghostly, glittery outline. The title of the piece points with some determination in the direction of Christ’s Apostles and the Last Supper.

Ofili’s work has the odour of sanctity about it — we approach the room along a narrow corridor which runs along its outside. At our feet, we see blocks of light, promises of yet more illumination to come. Then, all of a sudden, we make a sudden turn into the space proper. It’s an entire long room — walls, ceiling, floor, all of walnut veneer. The paintings glow and wink at us in the semi-darkness — the bodies of the monkeys are stuck full with glitter pins, which might, we fancifully wonder, be some oblique reference to Saint Sebastian. But these are monkeys after all, and so the religious references dissolve in fairly vague feelings of awe and wonder because the meaning of this iconography is so uncertain.

Ofili has not tried to mine the hidden riches of Christian iconography in pursuit of some profound response. In fact, the more we look at these monkeys holding up their goblets, and the more we admire the swirl of carnival-like colours — pink, green, orange, etc — and the sheer decorative delightfulness of the surfaces of these paintings, the more we begin to feel that Ofili only managed to engage with religion glancingly here.

The whole room is a kind of manifestation of spirituality-lite, something towards which we can feel vaguely warm. It’s all so pleasurable, but you couldn’t by any stretch of the imagination describe it as profound, nor even as wonderful painting — despite the awe-inspiring trappings of its built environment.

Article: Times | Entertainment Section
Written by Michael Glover of Tate Britain
Date: September 15, 2005


Here we see how Chris Ofili, an obvious atheist, using the skills of the architect to create warmth and comfort through a controlled lighting environment. All these sensual elements were constructed by the genius of David Adjaye. Cleverly Chris has enhanced his work by introducing a new element into art, that of architecture. Like the framer the architect can make an inferior work look excellent. David Adjaye and his amazing work has introduced audiences to the forth dimension, that of the senses.
If there should be credit at all it should go to the dynamic environment created by David Adjaye.

Exhuming Gluttony: A Lover's Requiem

I am going back a bit now to 1996 to take a look at a project undertaken by architect and artist. I am interested in role of the architect in regards to modern art. There has been a lot of talk about the 4th Dimension coming out of places like Brooklyn, Berlin and London. This idea is not new, in fact it goes back as far as the beginning of the last century with the Supremism art movement in Russia founded in 1913 by Kasimir Malevich. The talk at the moment echoes ideas and thoughts of Russia just after the 1918 Revolution and thoughts of a new society of social equality. As the world faces economic depression so thoughts are focused on areas of greater importance, that of spiritual freedoms and as our general interest in consumerism depletes so our interest in ephemeral matters increases. The architect has to deal with the elements of wind, sound and light when constructing a building and these elements are an interesting dimension as yet untapped in modern art. Want interests me is how art can be more participartory. This would link in with ideas from the intellectual activist movement of today spearheaded by Michael Albert and his book Parecon - Participartory Economics, Life After Capitalism.

In this case it is Wangechi Mutu and David Adjaye at Salon 94 in New York:

Salon 94 is pleased to present an exhibition by artist Wangechi Mutu in collaboration with British architect David Adjaye. Opening on Sunday, May 21, 2006, “Exhuming Gluttony: A Lover’s Requiem,” is an installation that re-imagines the idea of the banquet.

Wangechi Mutu has taken the notion of the salon and the white cube gallery and hacked into it a beastly feast. Creating a succulent room filled with the tropes and smells of entitlement and over-consumption, Mutu uses her weeping wine bottles and bullet-ridden walls to frame the uncomfortable romance between wealth and waste, affluence and mass poverty.

Within the space, Mutu fashions a romantic feast of exaggerated forms and icons, where sacrifice and opulence are on grotesque display. In the center of the room, for example, is an enormous banquet table, made from a single wood slab supported by a forest of wooden legs cut at various lengths. In front of this crippled table is a trophy sculpture made up of various animal pelts. A diaphanous curtain haunted by a tumorous image oversees the space, where food, wine, and conversation would be flowing.

This installation invokes the same demons and worlds that Mutu's latest collages on Mylar conjure. Her languorous warriors posed in contentment and exhaustion will have a concurrent exhibition downtown at Sikkema Jenkins and Co.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Wangechi Mutu lives and works in New York. She is one of thirteen artists in the SITE Santa Fe Biennial curated by Klaus Ottoman and has shown at the Whitney Museum, the Aldrich Museum, P.S. 1 in New York, and SFMOMA in San Francisco. She is represented by Sikkema Jenkins and Co. in New York and Susanne Vielmetter in Los Angeles

David Adjaye, born in Tanzania, is recognized as one of the leading architects of his generation in the UK, He designed the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway and recently exhibited “Making Public Buildings” at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.

Source: Salon 94, NYC

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Signs Taken for Wonders | Jack Shainman Gallery, NYC


Signs Taken for Wonders

Curated by Isolde Brielmaier

May 28 – July 3, 2009

Opening Reception: Thursday May 28 2009, 6-8 pm

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present Signs Taken for Wonders, an exhibition curated by Isolde Brielmaier. In this presentaiton six artists, Kader Attia, Jn. Ulrick Désert, Julien Friedler, Jeffrey Gibson, Xaviera Simmons, and Carrie Mae Weems, use Africa as their muse as they examine representation, symbolism and the power of the image within the social, economic, political, historical and cultural spheres of the 20th and 21st centuries. Their work explores iconic figures, events and ideas that have contributed, explicitly and implicitly, to the imaging of the African continent around the world. In Signs, the artists use a range of media—painting, sculpture, photography, video, mixed media and installation—to articulate a particular person, idea, event or time period that is significant to the role that African countries, cultures and individuals occupy within global politics, popular culture and economy. In so doing, they spotlight both the acknowledged and overlooked roles that international players, African individuals and the continent as a whole, maintain on every level of the world stage. This exhibition is collaboratively presented as part of a wider project developed by the Spirit of BOZ Collective which was founded by artist Julien Friedler. An important pillar of this collective’s global movement is the Forest of Souls, an international engagement and production of art by thousands of people from countries such as China, Rwanda, Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Germany, Brazil and Morocco. The exhibition Signs Taken for Wonders is thus intended to inscribe itself in a broader effort to gather a multi-national range of artists who will be featured in a series of globally-oriented exhibitions as part of the Forest of Souls project.

Photo by Xaviera Simmons

One Day and Back Then (Seated), 2007
Color Photograph
30 × 40 in.
76.2 × 101.6 cm

For further information and press photography please contact

Jack Shainman Gallery at (212) 645-1701

Monday, 25 May 2009

Zineb Sedira | MiddleSea & Saphir

MiddleSea & Saphir

Film screenings of Zineb Sedira's previous works

MiddleSea, 2008
Video still, courtesy the Artist and Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris

Since 2006 Zineb Sedira has completed three major film projects - Saphir (2006), MiddleSea (2008) and Floating Coffins (2009), using the sea in each to provide a symbolic as well as an aesthetic context. The first two were initially seen as part of a triptych, yet the latest forms a continuing episode rather than a third element.

In her earlier 2006 film Saphir she examines the Hotel Es Safir in Algiers, built by the French in the 1930s, and the focus of MiddleSea, created in 2008, is the sea joining and dividing Marseilles and Algiers. Both Saphir and MiddleSea employ protagonists who remain unspecific - the films do not tell us their stories, instead they allude respectively to separation and dislocation or departure and journeying. In each the setting remains unnamed and unspecific. Their lyrical power rests in their ellipsoidal quality; they contain references which can be read in so many ways.

Both films will be introduced by acclaimed freelance curator Andrea Schlieker who recently co-curated the British Art Show in which Sedira was a participating artist.

More information:

Events are free but to ensure your place please book by email or telephone 020 7749 1240

Zineb Sedira | Solo Show at INIVA

Zineb Sedira, Floating Coffins, 2009. Still from video work

Iniva presents the first London exhibition of Zineb Sedira's recently commissioned video work Floating Coffins at Rivington Place.

Floating Coffins was filmed on the little known but beautiful coastline of Mauritania, a bird watcher's paradise. It is also where the world's shipping is beached and broken up, drawing parallels with another of the region's characteristics - the habour city of Nouadhibou, which has become a point of departure for African migrants trying to reach Europe.

This unique phenomenon on the Saharan shores represents both a hazard to shipping and an ecological threat. Also the sea becomes a space of ‘decline' and an inactive landscape where lifeless ships and human bodies can be found rejected by the sea. Zineb Sedira

Acclaimed international artist Zineb Sedira is also showing new photographic and light box works to accompany Floating Coffins at Rivington Place.

The installation is presented on a complex arrangement of 14 screens with layered sound compiled by Mikhail Karikis. The work lingers with surreal ease on figures removing scrap, birds arriving, and the extraordinary landscape where desert, sea and man's struggle to survive, all combine.

‘Floating Coffins is a space where life, death, loss, escape, abandoned and shipwrecked journeys meet. It's both a toxic graveyard and a source for survival and hope.' reflects Zineb Sedira.

Zineb Sedira came to wider attention through the British Art Show and her solo show Saphir at the Photographers' Gallery in 2006. Sedira continues to explore her interest in displacement, mobility and the haunting beauty of abandoned landscapes in her new work.

Curator Tessa Jackson (CEO of Iniva) said: ‘Iniva is delighted to present Zineb at Rivington Place. Her lyrical and quietly compelling films reflect on dialogues Iniva has long been engaged with concerning diverse experiences of migration, transition and loss.'

A programme of special events, talks and workshops will run alongside the exhibition.

For further information please check the Iniva website

Zineb Sedira

Zineb Sedira has worked with installation, photography and video since 1997. Sedira has exhibited internationally and was included in the 2006 British Art Show and Africa Remix at the Hayward in 2005 with solo exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, and Cornerhouse Manchester UK.

Zineb's new body of work which started with Saphir (2006) represents a significant new stage in Zineb's artistic trajectory where her work explores the metaphors of ‘the sea, the boats, arriving and departing... stasis and transition, entrapment and escape, belonging and not belonging’.
Richard Dyer, 2006

Mikhail Karikis

Mikhail Karikis is a London-based artist working with music, architecture and visual art. He works with sound art, composition, performance, drawing and video. Karikis created the sound for Sedira’s piece MiddleSea (2008) which premiered at The Wapping Project, London, in September 2008.

Floating Coffins was commissioned by New Art Exchange, Nottingham, and produced by Artsadmin.

Further information is available at

Listings Information

Venue: Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA

Exhibition: Floating Coffins New Work by Zineb Sedira

Dates: 21 May – 25 July 2009

Public opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 11am – 6pm

Late Thursdays: 11am – 9pm (Last admission 8.30pm)

Saturday: 12noon – 6pm

Sunday, Monday: Closed

Admission: Free

Nearest tubes: Old Street & Liverpool Street

Rivington Place is fully accessible in all public areas
For parking & wheelchair facilities or further information about Rivington Place +44 (0)20 7749 1240,,

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Ed Cross | Kenyan Art Movement

The Magical Coast of East Africa

Artist: Ed Cross | National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi

In a country best known for its Marathon runners Cross attempts to turn the country onto the beauty of itself. In a time of newness and thoughts of authentic independence, Cross identifies the importance of art and the role in which it plays. Art and the artists should be encouraging the development and creation of a permanent aesthetic and through this aesthetic establish a confident yet coherent nation identity.

The Cross installations are an integral part of this development as he has tried to shrewdly introduce the country to itself and essentially encourage a National self-worthiness and at the same time dispelling thoughts of the more recent tribal divisions. Art can gather such confidence and national pride, particularly to those that appreciate it. Kenyans in general are far too officious, conformist and ultra conservative; more customary to works of literature than the visual arts but this is all about to change; through works by Cross we discover real continuity; a genuine thought process evolving alongside a confident procedure that has been thoroughly thought out. This Exhibition at the new National Museum in Nairobi is a great showcase for those interested in producing an interesting body of work. The show places adequate importance on the way in which art is displayed and the importance of an effective Curator.

Cross has lived on the Kenyan coast for over twenty years. In his work he makes several cultural references to the “Kaya”. A Kaya can be found deep inside the mystical indigenous coastal forests in the Mijikenda region on the East African coast. A Kaya is an area specifically used for traditional rituals and these hallowed locations have recently been listed as UNESCO National Heritage sites. Some contain Swahili ruins dating back hundreds of years and there have been numerous shrines erected. Essentially, a Kaya has its own unique biodiversity and beauty. The fossilized canoes used in the Cross installations have been carved from trees surrounding these Kayas. The wood is often unusually etched and eaten away, initially by marine insects and then later by termites from his own garden in Mombasa. This produces curious effects with the undulating shapes that evoke tidal sand patterns. The work is housed on simple wooden bases engulfed in deep white beach sand.

The work by Cross represents the men and women of Kenya past; arousing curiosity through the choice of artist material. Cross pilots the audience into a sense of the unbelievable and the unusual; recounting and acknowledging the men that fished before, the countless generations of individuals that navigated such boats; the magical trees that the canoes were made from, the trees that seeded particular trees stretching back into time and creating an enchanting visual history. Applying sand to the wood was an intriguing combination; in effect Cross has persuasively created an irrational glue for these mythical contemporary creations.

Art is new for Kenya, an unfamiliar, unquantifiable aspect of normal Kenyan life.

The artist recalls:

“My first test, an invasion of about sixty small school children thronging round the work rather like the insects that had besieged the wood earlier, they troop in, some on all fours others scooting along the cold tiled surface of the newly renovated Museum, and then they are gone. And the silence returns.”

Demystifying the wonders of art is a gift but still yet learnt in modern Africa still Cross has set the bar sufficiently high, especially in a country so lacking in vision or direction artistically and this ‘Artistic Myopia’ maybe the reason why artists from this region have, up until now, been often overlooked. The modesty of Cross borders on the charming to the reticent, he has committed two decades of his life to this strange, wild, crazy country and despite that he is still treated as a Muzugu, an outsider. More fool Kenya as what they have within their borders is a man who is to emancipate the Nation through his love for the country and enthusiasm for art. The hope is that the petite Artist Community will be able to see the light that shines so brightly. Only through the likes of Ed Cross and African abstraction will true intellectual independence and artistic equality be achieved.

Ashamedly, Kenya lies at the heart of East Africa but the obvious lack of proper artistic infrastructure is astonishing. Firstly, there are no known ‘Art Colleges’, only Departments of Art at the Universities and this laissez-faire attitude to the importance of art is echoed in the cities, which have too few Galleries, Contemporary Art Museums, Reference, General or Artists Libraries and no Auction Houses at all. There is little support and encouragement for the artists and to be frank, life as an artist in Kenya is near on impossible unless you have financial means. There are very few full-time artists and those that are often work in isolation. The majority of those that refer to themselves as ‘Artists’, are untrained. For those that have ears, hear as Ed Cross has provided some interesting joined-up thinking in this cultural wilderness.

© Joe Pollitt, 2009

Monday, 18 May 2009

Tribal Gathering | London

Tribal Gathering in Notting Hill, London

Moderism in Tribal Forms

This long awaited respectful approach to Africa shows a real shift in the thinking about the works being produced on the Continent. The unspoken and unknown handicap for Africa is that the work being produced is no more than for decoration and practical purposes whereas we in the West like to define and redefine, pigeon-hole and classify for purposes unknown. That being said, Tribal Gathering has presented wonderfully imaginative works and given then a name and hopefully, finally a place in the International Art Arena.

Here is a slideshow that will make you see things created in Africa in a refreshingly new light - many thanks to Tribal Gathering for leading the way. This is a great path of consciousness.

For more information about Tribal Gathering in London go to the website

Friday, 8 May 2009

Interview with Christopher Hitchens

This is a very interesting interview with an extremely intelligent thinker of our time. His perspective is often extremely controversial and refreshing. Christopher makes one see the world in a different way and encourages the individual not to accept all that is read and fed to us by the powers that be but to explore further in order to mine for a deeper truth.

This interview will assist those interested in writing about art or literature and preparing talks about International or Cosmopolitan thinking. It will take you on a journey of otherness and will start you on the road of challenging all that is presented as facts.

"Hitchens is expanding his influence, showing the next generation how to 'think independently'." - USA Today"

N.B. For more information about Christopher Hitchens see

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Zimbabwe in Wave of Change

Zimbabwe is right at the heart of the wave of change throughout the entire Continent. This change is coming from the most bizarre places - through dance and movement, music, sculpture, painting and literature.

Take a look at this amazing dancer at the Alick Macheso concert. His movement reflects the desire for the abstract. Listen to how the lyrics are deconstructed and simplified and at the same time notice the complexity of the music. Watch in amazement as all these aspects are brilliantly represented through the flow of movement.

Recently, I met up with an amazing woman, Vivienne Croisette, previously Vivienne Prince and she along with her husband Joseph have been supporting over 200 sculptors just outside Harare for nearly a decade. Through their constant support they have feed over 1000 families. This is quite staggering and when I met her I knew that Zimbabwe was where all the answers lay. The approach to Africa is a long and drawn out affair. Nothing comes easily but the journey is well worth it. Vivienne has shroudly placed herself in the heart of the British establishment and next week will be bravely exhibiting the best of Zimbabwe at the Chelsea Flower Show. Along with Ascot and Wimbledon this is one of the most important dates in the social calender for the British establishment. In effect what Vivienne is doing is giving respectablity to the work produced on African soil. We should appauld her efforts and give her a Knighthood. Back in Harare the expectations are high and enthusiasm addictive but the possibilites are too few and far between but still she has remained firm to Zimbabwe and the artists she represents. Only last week she and her newly born were cautiously drinking from the potentially poisonous cup of Cholera water that flows so freely throughout the country.

Perlagia Mutyavaviri | The Bond
Material: Spring Stone
Date: 2008

Some refer to her as the new Mother Theresa of Africa but unlike Mother T, Mother V asks for nothing in return but to be able to eck out a living from spectacular art being produced in Zimbabwe. Mother V is deeply concerned with the rising levels of HIV/Aids within her own community in Zimbabwe and is doing her up-most to provide food and medicines for those most in need. Every time she returns to Zimbabwe she brings back bundles of clothes and medicines. It has become almost expected of her and so she is considering how the community can be more self-sufficient and less reliant and a little more grateful. Getting blood out of a stone would be the perfect phrase for what she has done over the past decade and these acts of love, support and generousity can not be overlooked and her success is our success and will restore our faith and belief in humankind. So much negativity has come from this rich bread basket of Africa it is now time to see how Zimbabwean creativity can feed us.

The establishment as we know it is about to crumble and the world should watch as the Zimbabwean artists are truly on the march. Modern Zimbabwe should be proud that the best of their Independent Nation is finally making such headway into the British establishment. Great art can change our world and I predict that it will be Contemporary African art that will show us the way spearheaded by the likes of Vivienne Croisette; the paintings by Stephen Garan'anga; the music and dance of Alick Macheso, the stone bending sculpture of Perlagia Mutyavaviri and the passionate words of Petina Gappah, the new Faber and Faber writer.