Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Post Internet Africa

Wars are not fought throughout the land. No country is constantly on fire. War is fought on battlefields, on isolated pockets of every Nation. The Western world tends to focus on the Crisis. Through this sense of Global Duty, the West are hectically treating the wound by killing the patient. There needs to be far more scrutiny on what the alleged ‘Do-gooders’ are really up to. It seems Africa is being used as a convenient dumping ground for unwanted goods and toxic waste. Ships based in Panama are sailing the world with barrels of high toxicity from Dutch-based Oil companies and poisoning those on the West Coast of Africa. While the Kenyans are wearing their best “Mitumba” and busy destroying their own cotton industry. The Middle to Upper Class Africans out numbers all of Middle to Upper Class Europeans and Americans combined; it is a Continent of 53 countries, the largest landmass on earth. It houses over a third of the world's population. No Continent is constantly in Crisis but it seems outsiders would see it otherwise.

Africa is an Aid Industry and as far as I can detect the outsiders are busy wanting to assist but also wanting to control. What must be reinforced is that Oxfam needs Africa, far more than Africa needs Oxfam. The constant distribution of Western cast-offs destroys the internal cotton and cloth industry of the entire Continent and the chemistry needed to produce the dyes. The same can be said about the World Food Programme, The IMF, the World Bank, the Cocoa Industry et al. I see few, if any, that really want change, especially from within the Continent itself. The Powers that be merely want the same continuous turmoil and to keep things in chaos but there is an emergent shift in the Continent's thinking about itself. Economic transparency, fair trade and a greater understanding of good Governance and personal rights are issues that are all now sourced from the information super highway. Communication from those in the Free World and the Third World is causing an awakening consciousness like never before. No longer are the young, aspiring generation of African intelligentsia willing to be seen in the way their Parent’s generation were seen. Information is flooding into the Continent like a Tsunami as we all now live in a Post Internet world. Africa of yesteryear has all but vanished and where those with access to electricity can inform themselves they are and about pretty much anything and everything.

Recently, a Kenyan writer, was telling me all about the news that was just outside my doorstep. He knew all about the British Coalition Government and what it meant and what the policy makers were saying. It was quite disturbing as I choose to keep myself blissfully naïve to the political scene. I wouldn’t have a clue about affairs of State in Africa as my focus is on the Contemporary Art of Africa and the work being produced should show some depth and progression. Artists should be constantly playing around with different and exciting techniques; using diverse materials and enjoying the time spent trying to be an alchemist. Too many seek financial success and international recognition but the reward for a true artist is in the work being produced and the process developing. The work being produced in a lot of Anglophone Nations seems to have no rhyme nor reason, which makes it virtually impossible to judge and that is why often no reputable Art Critic would attempt to criticise an untrained, semi-trained African artist because it is more than his or her job is worth. However, constructive criticism is vital for an artist and for a country encouraging the production of art, especially on the scale of those producing throughout Africa. Pricing the work becomes so problematical as it’s worth nothing or lots to someone, but that side of Contemporary African Art has yet to level out. Some artists are demanding a fortune for their work without any rational or provenance, which pushes Contemporary African Art back down to street level. Although their are a number of pseudo artists trying to exploit the situation, thankfully the majority of true African artists are turning their backs on those that would see them negatively and beginning to understand the importance of producing work that is progressive and forward thinking. There are forces in the world that degrade those within the Continent but their rhetoric is falling on deaf ears. Change is well and truly beginning to happen and it can be seen within the artwork that is being produced. 

1 comment:

Debu Barve said...

Thanks for this interesting article.