Thursday, 24 February 2011

Journey from Douala to Dak'Art 2006


Goddy Leye and Artists from the West:

27/03/06 departure from Douala
The group travels by bus to Limbe/Cameroon where they will catch the ship to Calabar after a night’s cruise. Because ofthe general census in Nigeria  the previous week, everything is overbooked and th ship is disturbingly full. The routers spend the night in the shipyard .
28/03/06 departure for Calabar
The exit routers take a taxi at 5 A.M to the small town of Idenau where they manage to get seats in a « flying boat »
We finally leave at 11 AM.
Arrival in Calabar in the evening. The artists despite their efforts and the help of a few people fail to locate the immigration office supposed to be on the beach. The night is spent in a hotel close to the beach.
29/03/06 departure for Lagos
This morning, the efforts are fruitful and the pasports are stamped after long negociations.
· The exit routers take off for a night ride to Lagos.   On our way we are asked in a very impolite way to switch off our cell phones and our electronic devices. We are taken aback  by  this strange way of talking to customers. But all the other passengers seemed OK. Then we were told that it was a security mesure. So all the Nigerians in the bus knew  it. .
Late that night, in the middle of  nowhere the convoi of  buses is stopped by a police patrol. A systematic search follows
Later on all the buses are halted anew and no explanation is provided. Some two hours are thus spent in the heart of darkness. Then some passengers explain that armed robbers were spotted ahead and that the military went to free the way.
A convoi of heavily armed soldiers coming from the opposite direction told us we could move as the way has been cleared.
The trip continued with no other incident apart from a few narrowly escaped accidents.
Arrival in Lagos early  in the morning. Horns, loud speakers delivering all sorts of messages, motor boys shouting the destination of their « mami wagons », noices of tired exhaust pipes welcome all the passengers to Fela Kuti’s land.
30/03/06 arrival in Lagos
Doris, informed by Justine arrives to meet us at USA park surulere and takes us to her flat at Maryland. This actress,model and make up artist is simply put, a wonderful person, surrounded by equally sweet family relatives and friends. Needless to say that the stay in Lagos turned out to be a fairy tale.
One can hardly imagine that prior to our arrival to Lagos we only knew Doris through her voice.
Doris and Isioma  are the angels one should be blessed to meet.

31/03/06 arrival in Cotonou
Hidden tears, swiftly wiped, promises, advices, separation …
The newly born family parts, first at maryland then at Oshody where the exit tourers boad a mini bus to Ogbolo/Benin via Ajegule/Nigeria. In Ajegule the group crosses the boarder through a path in the bush. Surprisingly  numerous « controls »  paved the way. Naira bills flew and landed in mysterious hands coming out of the bush.
Then suddently, signboards in french are everywhere. « You are in Benin » say the « acada » boys.
Taxi to Cotonou. Everyone is happy...
01/04/06 begening of the workshop in Cotonou.
Half a dozen of local visual artists, most of them very talented and curious, join the exit tourers to exchange views and skills in the week long workshop.
01/04/06 –7/04/06  workshop in Cotonou.
One week of intensive work, debates, and exchanges of all sorts . Performances, installations and paintings were displayed on Thursday the 6th and the public was invited to share the fruits of the workshop with the artists.
The artists from Benin are:
Anne Florence , Joel Dossou, Noel Zoccli, Roger Somegbe, Roland Bokos, Malabah, Deen,Bernard Ounsougan, Benjamin, Afiy Smith.
Simon Soha, Aston, Adogra,Tchief, Bamouss were ressource artists for the Cotonou workshop.

7/04/06  departure for Lomé.
After a short farewell designed to spare some tears, the group takes off for Lomé with two artists from Cotonou in the car. Others pledged to follow. So the workshop in Lomé is likely to be more international that earlier thought of.
8-9/04/06  Week-end in Lomé.
Preparatory meetings for the workshop.  Inspite of the voiced desire of the participants for a peaceful week end, meetings are organised in order to  set everything in moton before the first official meeting with local artists.
· Introductory meeting with the managing team of the Denigba Cultural Centre. A presentation of the Exit Tour project is followed by an introduction into the runing of te cultural centre.
Afiy Smith arrives from Cotonou in the evening
Meeting with Togolese artist KIKOKO . The workshop has already begun...
Meeting about the Cotonou workshop.
10-14/04/06  Workshop in Lomé.
Introdoctory meeting on Monday te 10th.
The following day the artists are split into two groups. One dealing with performance art and directed by Dunja Herzog, the second revolving aroung critical analysis of participants’ works and approaches.
Performance workshop directed by Dunja Herzog with artists from Cameroon, Benin and Togo.
·Dunja’s worshop is built  on discussions about the understanding of performance art and physical exercises...
· The second worshop focussed on the critical analysis of participants works. This was a real opportunity even for Toglese artists to get to know each other’s approach to art better. This also offered a chance to talk about contemporary art and the art word.
Togolese artists in the workshop were:
Enyo Dackey, alice d’Almeida, M. Traore, AholouAgbe, Dos Major Congeorges, Jean Sewonou, Eza Komla, Azankpo, Edoh Lawson, Dauskings Amedome, juste Agoussi Ake, Amen Asogba
15/04/06  Departure for Accra.
Broken hearts, shed tears, as usual, pledges to keep in touch… Then the exit tourers board an air conditionned van , it does happen, en route to Accra.… Bernard who has decided to accompany us accross the border into Ghana can now go back to Cotonou.
· The group reaches Accra in the evening and goes directly to a hotel with an American name found in our tourist’s guide book. The fame of the place seems far fetched as it is apears to us that  it offers other services that we are not interested in. So, after some unbelievable discussions we are allowed to go to a different place that would suit our needs and budget.
Though there may be no connection between the exit tourers  and any royal lineage, we are lodged at the Crown Prince hotel, down town Accra.
16-17/04/06  Easter hollidays in Accra.
Everybody is in a festive mood and naturally web cafés are closed… The beach is full and reads LA beach! Los Angeles beach? One would be tempte to say given that the hole place is invaded by Coca Cola’ merchandizing power. But no, its simply LA beach in LA neighbourhood.
18/04/06  Studio visit .
After the Burkina Faso Embassy; the exit tourers go to  Agbogbo to visit master KOFFI SETORJI in his studio. ARTHAUS. Unforgettable moments with the artist enlightening us about his work, life and projects as well as his understanding of the workings of the art world… We learned more about his workshops and residency programmes. We also learned alot about riding Accra’s mini buses…
· In the evening, on or way back from Setorji’s Arthaus, we went to the Du Bois centre, where is located the FCA
( Foundation for Contemporary Art) and were blessed with first hand information about Accra’s art scene and its main protagonists.
19-21/04/06  Africa Unite !
The Exit Tour team strikes in the night by posting bills with stylised images of the group on targeted walls in the city. It is like an attempt by these image makers to put themselves into the PICTURE. Stikers are made with same logo in order to be shared with people we meet.
· A scheduled meeting is held at the FCA with Ghanean visual artists. Presentation of the project and of the FCA are followed by discussions on the art scene in Cameroon and in Ghana.
After the FCA meeting the exit tourers go for an evening studio visits in the heart of Accra, feeling the beats of the city’s creativity. Artists Massok, Akirash, and Dawson   are the kind guides.
Discussions about art, art scenes, artists, exhibitions, the public, institutional support, private patronage… follow with artists Massok and Akirash
· Pledges…
22nd April departure for Ouagadougou
Tireless Akirash and Victor Massok take us to the bus station. The bus announced for 1pm finally leaves at 4:30 for an unforgatable journey inside Ghana. After Kumassi, the driver, took the wrong road and we are treated to a forced safari inside Ghana. In addition, the lorry has mechanical problems and we have to stop every mile for the motor boy to rush, fetch some water and pour it into the tank. The performance will last a whole night and two thirds of the next day. Then we see a signboard with Kitampo mentioned on it. We are relieved. But this is short lived as a look at our map reveals that Kitampo is only half way to the frontier and we are already half a day late to the scheduled arrival at Paga and four hours late to our planned arrival in Ouagadougou.
But remember, we are only heading to Kipompo.

Needless to say that we spent the night in this small but busy town and could only catch another bus to Ouagadougou, the following night. Departure at 10 PM. The other 40 passengers or so had been transferred earlier on on a smaller ageing bus. We refused to take another chance. We could be 5 days late in Ouagadougou... 
April 22, arrival in Ouagadougou
The group arrives Ouagadoudou at midday. Abou Sidibé welcomes everybody and takes the nomads to his place. Arrangements have been made for the artists to stay at Salif Namoin's place.
April 22-26exchanges in Ouagadougou
The stay is short but intense. The programme include visits of cultural centes galeries and private initiatives. Local artists open their studios...
April 27, departure for BamakoLong and tiresome trip to Bamako. Everybody is exhausted. But the way to Dakar is still long. Fortunately, there is some energy produced by the encounters that gives added strenght to the nomad artists.
29th April, arrival in Bamako
Very early in the morning, the group arrives at the bus station in Bamako.
Hama Goro, the director of Centre Soleil d'Afrique, personnally welcomes his friends.

April 29th -May 4th , exchanges in BamakoThe exit tourers are welcomed at Hotel Kountena, partner of Centre Soleil d'Afrique. The place is compfortable and helps relax before the next trip. In theory. In practice however, there is a lot of work to be done here, ahead of Dakar and there is equally a lot of grounwork to be carried out in order to buid a solid foundation for the Bamako -Douala axis, to be managed by Centre Soleil d'Afrique and ArtBakery.
In addition the group will visit Amsyl's studio (Amara Sylla), where a bunch of international artists are hanging out. Billy Bidjocka, Martha Caracosa, Ananias Leki, Ckeik Diallo, Mamadou 
Diane, to name but a few, are there. An international show is being set up Downtown with Africa Remix's curator Simon Njami.
The visiting artists go to the former rail station warehouse turned into an exhibtion space.Many visits will prvide and insight into the works being developped. Informal exchanges followd with organisers and curator.
A visit to the Higher School of Arts (Conservatoire desArts et des Metiers Multimedia) reveals a magnificent project supported by the state and which is intended to expand and become a regional institute. Hope they gain all the required support.
A quick visit to the national meuseum showed a real willingness to have public quality cultural instutions in the country. 

May 4th, departure for Dakar

An attempt to get a visa at the Senegalese Embassy failed. A second attempt equally failed with no strong reason. In fact, based on the same documents, the visa is given to Dunja Herzog (with a Swiss passport) but refused to the six Camerounian artits of Exit Tour. And the opening of the biennial is close. As nobody is willing to provide us with adequate information at the Embassy, the group decides to go to Kayes where there is a consulate...
At around 10 PM, the ageing bus supposed to take us to Dakar via Kayes decides to find its way through the traffic of central Bamako, 
en route for Dak'art 2006.
2days later, the group arrives Kayes. Too late, the consul has travelled out of town and will not be back before sunday night. We are then told, it would be possible with the immigration office just like in all the immigratio posts on our long way to Bamako. This will prove wrong...
We will be asked manu militar to get off the bus by a violent police officer who almost assaulted us physically as well as he verbally abused Dunja in Wolof. He could not imagine that some passengers would happilly do some translation work for us. Then the six cameroonian artists are sent back to Mali...
May 6- 7, travel back to Bamako.
Everybody is tired, angry and bitter about African integration and all the great speaches about African unity...
To be expelled from one's own land is beyond anything describable. One begins to have doubts about being African...
The Idea of Africa...
You are Cameroonian and you need a visa to get into this country... I am only doing my job, bla bla bla...
May 7th, arrival in Bamako.
Dunja arrives Dakar where the entire Exit Tour is awaited. But she is the only representative of the group to have arrived the final destination at this point. Ironivally enough, she the only one with a non African passport...
Everybody is surprised to hear over the phone that we are returning to Bamako. This is an anoying situation for just everyone. Hama Goro is both sad (for us) and happy to see us again... Ada, Justine's friend is shocked and rushes to see us. Strategies are developped for the next day...
The whole procedure has to be started anew with no garantee whatsoever that we will have our visas in time to reach Dakar before the end of major events, that is, before the 15th of May.
Three days and three nights have thus been spent on the road, in terrible conditions, i.e. no possibility to have a bath... to no avail.
May 8-11th, Visa struggle in Bamako.

to no avail.
Various attempts by different people to sort out the problem fail. Then came he light. The nomad artists could have done without disturbing their exellencies, the Ministers of Culture of Mali and of Senégal, for a simple question of visa. But they had no choice here.A nd the Ministers took the matter seriously.
In short, the Secretary General of the biennial sends by fax an official invitation as required by the Consulate. The visa is refused without reason. The Secretary General is immidiately informed of the situation and the Ministers of Culture of Mali and Senegal are equally informed.This is followed by a rain of phone calls at the Embassy from various places ... 

11th of May , VISA.
Officials at the Consulate are taken aback by the calls enquiring on the issue. They finally give up struggling and give the visa that will allow the nomad artists to go to Dakar.
It is Bob Marley's anniversary. He who sang "Buffalo Soldier" ... 

May 12 , departure for Dakar.
Gaga and Alioum have succeeded in purchaising seats on a good bus for Kayes the next day. Departure time 8 A.M There are chances to get to the border before 7PM, when it closes.
That would be possible if the exit tourers reach Kayes in time and immediately catch a car for Dakar. People say it wil be possible but the artists hardly believe, given their last experience. In fact, in Kayes, there is no car available at this time to go straight to Dakar. Understandable. If the boarder closes at 7..
Different strategy. A mini-bus takes people to the border where it could be possible to get a car for Dakar. Dibolo is some one hundred kilometer away. The bus full to capacity is old and visibly is in pain dealing with the burden. The speed of the old mini bus makes it clear that it would have been wiser to spend the night in Kayes in better condition. Obviously it is going to be stopped at the border and everybody would have to stay there till 6 AM.
These prospects haunt the artists for almost two hours then everyone is relieved. The border is ahead . The hope is short lived as a loud bang similar to the sound of a tyre puncture reminds the artists of the reality. They have a flat tire !
Achilleka, Gaga and Alioum immidiately drop and cross the border, one kilometer away by foot with all the passports so they can be stampted. Sound decision. The others stay in the van to take care of the luggages.
A few minutes later, the van is back on the road and the nomads can cross the border, since they are all officially out of Malil as the stamps on the passports can show.
A taxi is found to take the group to the police office in Diboli, from where the group was earlier on expelled. 
Everything goes smoothly, a different team is there. Stamps ! The entire Exit Tour team is in Senegal, officially.
There is one car ready and going straight to Dakar. It is a peugeot 505. Negociations. Agreements.Departure.
The landscape runs at high speed as Dakar gets closer.

13 mai , arrivée à Dakar.
Midday,heavy traffic jam.
Park, taxi, Novotel Hotel.
The exit tour team is complete. 


Dak'art my love.
Many people have gone, full of colours, forms, shapes and discourses on contemporary art, misconceptions... But a few curators are still around. A few artists as well.
Discussions, exchanges, contacts...
Barbara Muray and some other curators have lengthy talks with the artists.
Achilleka and Goddy Leye meet Mr. Ousseynou Wade who expresses his admiration and interest for the project. The exit tour team thanks the Secretary Ge neral for his precious help in solving the visa problem.
The nomad artists congratulate Bill Kouélany and Guy Wouete, former residents at ArtBakery .
Tour of galeries and exhibition spaces.
Meeting with Ms Andrea Jacob Sow, former director of the Goethe Institute Yaoundé and current director of the german cultural centre in Dakar.
Press conference at the Goethe Institut thursday 18th of May. The Secretary General of the biennial is there with Ms Marina Calvani art curator at the World Bank. The press conference turned into a round table.
.Thursday 18th May 2006, departure for Douala

TheVirgin Nigeria flight is in time. Departure time is 12:50 AM. Registration starts at 8 PM.
Early afternoon, 19th May, the damp hot air of Douala welcomes the crew. 
Bonendale is the final destination.
Sunday May 21, 2006
Preparatory meeting for the stay in Douala. The group decides to hire an appartment in the Bali neighbourhood in Douala. As in all the countries visited, Exit Tour will spend a week meeting artits and art lovers and sharing ideas. The week's stay will end with an "exhibition" recounting the whole trip. 
22-23 May, searching for space in Douala
Two interesting places are found. One is an old night club and the other is a nice appartment in Bali, a peaceful neighbourhood in Douala. Finally the appartement is chosen. The Exit Tour team holds an informal meeting in a road side restaurant where they have avocado salads. They reshape the world as usual, inspite of the expected tiredness. Future holds prospects in stock and this fuels their energy an will. .
May 28, 2006, Dak'Art OFF in Douala 
Preparatory work lasted some five days. Relocating Dak'art OFF is not an easy task. Furhermore, Thursday is a public holliday. There is a serious threat tat people would go on week end out of town and that the turn out will be poor. Anyway, nobody does an opening a week-end in Douala. It is a well known fact. Dak'art OFF ...
DONGAMEN is the name for the show in Douala. The entire Exit Tour team is invited for the cultural program "Calebasse" on Swelaba FM, a local radio. One hour of crazy ideas and laughter but also of very serious matters: art, art production and reception, promotion, art scenes...
15 ours, Sunday, invitees arrive in numbers. Unbelievable. Is it really a Sunday afternoon in Douala? Dak'art OFF is apparently very successful in Douala. Pictures of the show should be sent to Dakar to give an idea of the Dak'art OFF in Douala.
Videos, paintings, texts, drawings are posted or installed on walls or floors. The keetchen , the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the parlour... are transformed into a White Cube telling the story of seven artists who went from Cameroon to Senegal by sea and by road, to participate in Dak'art 2006.
The show is wonderful: the last invitees leave at 10 PM. The opening of DONGAMEN has lasted 7 hours, a Sunday afternoon in Douala !!! 

Here are some photos of the trip:




Friday, 18 February 2011

Goddy Leye Has Died

He was to bring hope and newness to a Continent. So loving in all things African..what a loss Africa has..what a loss!

This man has been an inspiration for artists especially in regards to video art. He was one of the first African artists to embrace the medium of Video Art and was an inspiration to push forward ideas of progressive thinking for Africans and was inspirational in regards to real genuine development for Africa. He will be sadly missed!



Goddy Leye
b.1965 - 2011
N.B. Source:

The Story Behind My Work 

For a decade now, I have been busy exploring my memory. It all started with painting and drawing. I would look for old signs and symbols, remove them from their initial settings and place them in a totally new environment, thus providing room for the expansion of meaning. The signs and symbols were selected on the basis of their age but also and more so because of their beauty. They were fundamentally important as they were encapsulations of ideas feelings, emotions, thoughts that we are not directly connected to but that we could imagine, recall, think of. History books provided for the bulk of this material. But MEMORY as it recognises its subjective stand and does not pretend to have any everlasting truth or dogmatic position, was the most appropriate tool here.

Having been born and bred in an environment where the past was either forbidden or intentionally distorted in order to create a schizophrenic mind in the post-colony, I guess there has always been/there is still, the need to rewrite HISTORY.

One way of doing this is by feeding our thoughts with Senghorian Negritude: before the plagues of slavery and colonisation, Africa was a land of beauty, of loving people, of dynamic culture unrivalled poetry, sculpture, architecture, painting.... This would take our minds away from the pictures in textbooks, newspapers and now TV an Internet, of Africa as a wasteland. This philosophy/ideology provided the nutrients for my artistic growth when Pascal KENFACK accepted to guide me 1987-1991.Kenfack studied in Besancon and Paris in the late 70`s and wrote a doctoral thesis on the need and ways to draw inspiration from Pre-colonial African Art in order to produce a contemporary art that is authentic.

The other way is to rewrite and print History text books in order to produce a COUNTER-HISTORY... an eye for an eye... This may end up with awkward situations like when the Bible is rewritten with a Black Jesus. The son of Joseph and Mary was born in Bethlehem: he was neither Black nor White. Saying that Christopher Columbus was Black is probably less important to claim that he never discovered America, since prior to his arrival, people were already living there. Or maybe we should say that he discovered America from the position of Europe. Just like last year, I discovered Poland from the perspective of my family. This might imply that the entire History is written from a viewpoint that cannot be universal but which can easily be imposed as such.

In Cameroon two trends emerged from the Negritude philosophy: on the one hand, Reverend Father Engelbert Mveng studied the aesthetics of African Arts and published his findings in numerous books and articles. He opened a studio where he trained a couple of artists. His teaching was based on what he called the universal rules of African Art. His obsession with the Almighty Truth in the arts of the Black Continent led to a kind of pedagogy that had strong similarities with the Socialist Realism. His Studio failed to produce artists but instead poured a bunch of craftspeople on the local art scene. But according to him, this was not a failure since in Africa, there is no distinction between Art and Craft.

Pascal Kenfack`s theory, while drawing from the same source is slightly different. Craft and Art share some similarities and connections but belong to separate realms. Kenfack is convinced that the cultural past of Africa has not been properly studied and still has a lot to offer. The past in this case is a wonderful bank of useful information for the contemporary artist from the continent. Anthropology provides him with the necessary tools to explore this wealthy source of inspiration.

For both scholars and artists there is no redemption for a contemporary artistic production that is oblivious of the PAST.But as it is always the case with NEGRITUDE no precision is given about this wonderful past that serves as the backdrop. Thus, both theories fail in putting Africa in HISTORY. The land of the Negro is a place where nothing changes, evolves. Traditions rule here. And tradition is oral culture.In this way Negritude could be seen as an ally to the views developed by the colonial West, that Africa needs civilisation or development.

Questioning the views of these local influential cultural figures, provided the basis of my current quest for MEMORY.

Art Exhibition
Dancing with the Moon [Solo exhibition, Doual`Art, 2003]
Elections [Solo exhibition, Fri`Art, 2003]
Post-Border Art [Group exhibition, SBK, Amsterdam, 2003]
Réalité ou Fiction? [Solo exhibition, Fri`Art, 2003]
Electromediascope [Group exhibition, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 2002]
Nuits Métisses [Group exhibition, La Ciotat, 2002]
Espace Doual`Art [Joint exhibition, 2001]
With Bili Bidjocka
Goddy Leye [Solo exhibition, Icba Gallery, Salvador de Bahia, 2001]
Blick- Weschel - Afrikanishe Videokunst [Group exhibition, IFA Galerie, 2000]
Boulev`Art [Group exhibition, 2000]
Dak`Art 2000 [Group exhibition, Dakar Biennale, 2000]
Havana Biennale [Group exhibition, 2000]
L`Afrique à Jour, 10 Ans de Création à la Biennale de Dakar [Group exhibition, 2000]
Sankofa Blues [Solo exhibition, Doual`Art, 2000]
Behind the Scenes [Solo exhibition, Electronic Cafe International, Santa Monica, and on internet, 1999]
Dream [Group exhibition, Doual`Art, 1999]
South Meets West [Group exhibition, National Museum, Accra and Kunsthalle, Bern, 1999]
Dak`Art 1998 [Group exhibition, Biennale de Dakar, 1998]
Triennale der Kleinplastik [Group exhibition, 1998]
Fouilles Sauvages [Solo exhibition, Doual`art, 1996]
Bois Sacré [Solo exhibition, Institut de Formation Artistique, Mbalmayo, 1995]

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tracey Rose | Waiting for God


Tracey Rose | Waiting for God

What makes her so marvellous? What makes her work so vital, so powerful, so poignant, so present day? What it boils down to is simplicity itself. Communication with others, for she is a facilitator for creativity: selflessly allowing others to be creative all around her and this is intoxicating. Her foul language is justified and even expected as she hides behind the guises and disguises of Art; she becomes the art and generously allows herself to be herself with the humps and bumps of her lady lumps, she is so exciting. Her show is creating a buzz all around the world - from Jo’burg to NY to London to Sydney. The global artistic community are anticipating a show of such ferociousness with excitement that is Tracey’s evocative disruption that has yet been seen in this rather conservative post Apartheid South Africa.

This show is a milestone; a mid-career celebration of making it thus far and still being able to sustain a voice of reason and creating an atmosphere of stimulating anticipation. The work is 15 years in the making and puts Tracey firmly on the map as an international super Artist. Live performance art, poetry, scratches, scribbles and sketches, photography and video artistry – all, are the make-up of this long awaited solo show. No Gallerist or opportunist can box or ‘pigeon-hole’ this artist as no genre of art has yet been assigned for her and her work to casually and politely fall into: for she is the art itself, as she stands clearly outside the boundaries of containablity. She is a true punk in a punk-less world as she bites the hands that feed her and still the masochists come back for more. To be accepted by the established art world is, in itself, a paradoxical phenomenon however somehow she seems to have maintained infancy innocence through into her adulthood – eternal youthfulness of knowing and not knowing; enquiring: constantly and intelligently exploring. Her art has humour in bucket loads and to see the body of her work leaves the viewer walking out with a Cheshire cat smile from ear to ear. Rumours circulate about her antics of her goings on, with her goings out – Nights on the town with the likes of Godfried Donkor, a giant of a man, who quakes in his boots when Tracey starts drinking; she is a force to behold even in her day to day. In interview she is a warrior princess with her unique and complex jet set agenda defining her job as the fighter against the established labels of expedient complacency. The labels of our time like: Feminism and Catholicism: Capitalism and Consumerism all these and more are under the Traceyscope. 

Her work to date has been an inspiration for a generation. Back in 2001 with “The Kiss” as seen in an exhibition entitled “Decade of Democracy”, a black and white photograph inspired by Rodin, puts a black man finally in the picture; firmly placing the South African underdog in the driving seat for the first time. Changing the perception of those downtrodden in days gone by. The aftershock of this exhibition created or encouraged confidence in other artists (black artists, specifically), to have the audacity and bravery to play amongst the untouchables: the European Masters and see themselves as equals. The present day artistic call to arms echoes her sentiment from the Naughties and black artists across the globe are now eager to wedge themselves between the sheets of the history books of art worldwide. In the series entitled “Lucie’s fer” 2003 (Lucipher), the artist investigates and cross-examines the actual existence of the devil and questions the very nature of our childish fear of evil. The work comprises of eight photographic images with an accompanying video with no reference to Adam’s rib and Eve becomes Lucie; as the artist takes us on a journey into fact or fiction, myth and deceit. The aptly titled Lucie’s Fur is a reference to Gustave Courbet - L’Origine du Monde and the work explores lust and desire and discards the myth and the ridiculous story of the stork and the baby; boldly stating the true nature of how we came to being. Pulling back the curtain once more, dispelling and unashamedly shattering, our cosy ways of thinking.

In late 2005/6 Tracey created a project in the ghetto of the Capital, in a place known as Zombie town on the outskirts of Jo’burg. Here lies the Riverlea Extension, an area of extreme creativity and seemingly acceptable poverty.  The workshop accidentally manifested itself from Christmas carol-singer with her father and she returned to the community is search of working with those less fortunate. She combines her zest for life with enthusiastic feral kids in the community and she found working with the children a life changing experience.  No stone was left unturned as she explores the vortex of the young South African. The work speaks for itself, as it’s playful and fun with that edginess of the unpredictability that weaves constantly through her work. Her video work pulls no punches and in the Cockpit Tracey examines and scrutinizes themes such as misery, intolerance and hatred and not content with that, she then has 12 women over for dinner in the “Last Supper”. The real showstopper is the central piece and to many Tracey’s Masterpiece. Shocking but with clear intent, she points her finger and ironically mocks the survival of London’s Tate Modern. Standing over the river Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance, wearing the Great British flag as stockings. She crouches down on golden boots with leopard skin inlay; she lifts up her red mini-skirt with the union jack wrapped around her body and with a hook on her left hand she spreads her lips to piss. Pissing on the table at the members lounge at the prestigious Tate Modern, clearly expressing just how she feels about the Young British Artists. She metaphorically throws a poisonous arrow right at the heart of the art world with the title: For King and Cunt. The taboo artist may well be dismissed by the conventional art lover, but her work to date can hardly be ignored. Tracey Rose is a true South African Modernist over and above her contemporaries. Her work excites, fearlessly shocks and triggers the imagination. Yet again she has successfully expanded the ever-increasing concept of Art.

The show beings on the Sunday 20th February at the Johannesburg Art Gallery at 4pm

The exhibition is curated by  Khwesi Gule and Renaud Proch and co-produced by the Johannsbury Art Gallery and Bildmuseet Umea University, Sweden. 

Author: Joe Pollitt

About the artist
Tracey Rose was born in 1974 in Durban, and currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. She received her B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1996, and earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, UK, in 2007. In 2006, she was named one of the 50 greatest cultural figures coming out of Africa by the newspaper The Independent, London, UK.
Rose has exhibited in South Africa, Europe and North America, including solo presentations at the South African National Art Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2001); La Panaderia, Mexico City, Mexico (2001); Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2006); and MC, Los Angeles, USA (2008). Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions over the years, and most notably in Graft, Trade Routes History and Geography, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, South African National Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997); Videodrome, The New Museum, New York, NY (1999); Plateau de l'humanite, 49thVenice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2001); Africa Remix, (traveling) The Haywood Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2005); Masquerade: Representations and the Self in Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2006); Mouth Open, Teeth Showing: Major Works from the True Collection, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, USA (2007); Memories of Modernity, Malmö Art Museum, Malmö, Sweden (2007); and Global Feminisms, The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2007).
Rose participated in international artists’ residencies including ArtPace, San Antonio, Texas, USA (2000) and KHOJ International Artists Workshop, Vasind, India (2005), and Doual’Art, Douala, Cameroon (2010).

Monday, 14 February 2011

Stuart Hardcastle | African Drumming in Liverpool

This is Stuart Hardcastle doing his magic in Liverpool: Drumming in a Social Way

Check out the Conductor - the man with the pony tail, that is our Stuart Hardcastle...Wonderful stuff that has encouraged a community in Liverpool to take up the sounds of Africa via Stuart Hardcastle's interest in African drumming - the Liverpublian community looks positively marvellous.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

African Now | March 2011

Africa Now: Modern & Contemporary African Art 
Wednesday 16 March 2011
New Bond Street, London 
Africa Now Online Catalogue 

To arrange a free and confidential auction valuation or for further advice on buying or selling at auction, please contact:

Catherine Harrington Gioulekas
+44 (0) 20 7468 8216

Morgan Osthimer
+1 (212) 644 9020

If you want to be kept informed about your area(s) of interest clickhere

There has been an explosion of interest in modern and contemporary art from Africa, and Bonhams 'Africa Now' auction remains at the forefront of the market. Created by artists from a multitude of cultures, African contemporary art reflects the complex heritage of this dynamic continent. Sales include the very best of post-war and contemporary art from across the African continent in various media including painting, sculpture, and drawing. Of particular interest are works by artists including El Anatsui, Marlene Dumas, Yinka Shonibare, Jimoh Buraimoh, William Kentridge, Romauld Hazoum, Ben Enwonwu, Georges Lilanga, Dumile Feni, Bruce Onobrakepeya, Cheri Samba, David Goldblatt, Zwelethu Mthethwa, and Guy Tillim among many others.

The catalogue is now online for the forthcoming sale, taking place in London on 16 March 2011.

To arrange a free and confidential auction valuation or for further advice on buying or selling at auction, please contact the department.

Further information

Current Auction Sale Entries

Ben (Benedict Chukwukadibia) Enwonwu, M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994), Africa Dances, 1964
Estimate: £25,000 - 35,000

Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigerian, born 1932), Peace, Health, Long Life And Wealth (Ufuoma, Omakpokpo, Otovwe & Idolo), 1999
Estimate: £12,000 - 18,000

Previously Sold Auction Highlights

Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigerian, born 1932), Environmental regeneration
Sold for $42,700

Robert Griffiths Hodgins (South African, born 1920), Father and son takeover time
Sold for $20,130

Friday, 11 February 2011

RSA Animate - First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

Here are some interesting thinkers that attempt to communicate some complex ideas that are fascinating.

In this short RSA Animate, renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek investigates the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving.

The 21st Century Enlightenment

Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today, and the role that can be played by organisations such as the RSA.

This animation may shed light of Tunisia and Egypt and our understanding of new technology and the possibilities beyond revolt and into a greater understanding of ourselves through art and global connection - The Empathic Civilisation:

Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


This is peace on earth. This blends religions and makes us all realise we are all praying for a better world.

South African Cartoonist

I adore the writing by Sandi Wells. It's so punchy and knowing, edgy and honest. Great stuff! 

A Conversation with Dr. Nanda Soobben: South Africa's Internationally Acclaimed Political Cartoonist

Sandi Wells |

February, 2011

Nanda Soobben is a man with a remarkable journey.  With a successful career spanning three decades, he is probably best known for being South Africa’s only “Black” cartoonist during the apartheid years.
Nanda’s accomplishment, both internationally and nationally, is impressive – certainly, there are too many to mention here but readers can find a wealth of information on the internet.  What makes Nanda Soobben different is that he is so well informed, very clear-headed about his opinions and is a wonderfully skilled artist; all the elements needed for great cartooning.
I first met Nanda in 1993 when he had already made an indelible mark on South African history.  At the time, he had recently returned from Brazil where he painted a 10 metre mural as a tribute to the Rio-92 World Earth Submit.  It was Nanda who introduced me to the Brazilian Society of Arts and I went on to organise several art cultural exchanges between our two countries.
Two decades later, despite his notoriety and celebrity, Nanda Soobben remains humble and modest.  He lives with his wife, Deseni and their two teenage children in Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.
Our conversation quickly became an uninhibited exchange of opinions – the very essence of democracy …
SW: On Facebook you recently posted: "My kids are having an amazing holiday in the US...  When I was their age, I spent my holidays playing soccer on the street and drawing on the walls with charcoal!  I could only DREAM!"
I think that your dream came true.  How did your journey into the art world start?

President Zuma confers with the Queen of England
NS:  I wanted to study fine art but it was pointed out by ‘all and sundry’ that it wouldn’t put ‘bread on the table’.  I looked at graphic design as an option.  Technikon Natal or Natal Technical College, as it was called then, was the best in the country when it came to graphic design but it was a ‘no-go area’ for me as I was ‘NON-WHITE’.M.L. Sultan was in its infancy as a tertiary college.  It was a trade high school during the day (similar to a FET college) and in the evening, it became a tertiary college.  I enrolled at M.L. Sultan where I studied Graphic Design which was called Commercial Art then.
It wasn’t the best option at that time but Apartheid education was never going to be the best option anyway.  We made the most of what we had … sparse resources but with dedicated teachers, hard work and talent.

SW:  I remember that.  When I had my art shops, the M L Sultan people were my favourite customers.  I knew that something special was going on there – great creative spirit.
NS:  Yes, M.L Sultan eventually became one of the best institutions in the country on par with Natal Technikon. Thanks to a community that unselfishly dug deep into their pockets to make that happen.  The plaques on the walls at MLS bear testimony to that!

SW:  And after MLS, you went on to study at the Parson School of Design in New York and The San Francisco Art Institute.  You seem to have a fondness for Americans.  Do you think that your stay there marked a turning point in your life?
NS:  When it comes to Americans, you get the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.  In fact, the “Good” people I met in America are some of the most beautiful human beings I have ever met in my whole life.  George Bush just misrepresented them!
If you have talent in America you can go to the top and it doesn’t matter what race you are; in spite of racism in some of the places.  The black entertainers and sportsmen are proof of that.
So, it was a revelation for me when I went to America and they said:  “Hey, you are good!”  But, didn’t I know that?  Yes, it was the inferiority complex that we carried around that actually made us think that we were inferior.  After all, the cane knife was given to us to cut the cane, not carve a niche!
Nandi Soobben cartoons

SW:  The topic of your forefathers brings to mind your magnificent series of watercolours called “Cato Manor – People Were Living There”.  A lot of people don’t realise that you are indeed a superb watercolourist – actually, you are a master of all the mediums.  Why have we not seen a Soobben solo exhibition here in Kwazulu Natal?
NS:  Yes, that was a sell-out watercolour exhibition in New York. The watercolours you are talking about told the story of forced removals and the Group Areas Act and how this impacted on the people of this once non-racial part of Durban.
I have not had a decent solo exhibition in my own city - even in the “New South Africa!”   I had a joint cartoon exhibition with other cartoonists here in Durban once.  Last year, I had a solo exhibition of my cartoons at the Grahamstown Festival … thanks to festival director, Ismail Mahomed.  But, that’s Grahamstown … not my home town, Durban!
SW:  That is ludicrous!  What about the KZNSA?
NS:  When Brenton Maart became director of the KZNSA Gallery, one of the first things he did was invite me to exhibit at the gallery.  He felt that the gallery wasn’t really reflective of this city or something to that effect!   He pulled out his diary and gave me a date which was for a year later. He also gave me a date for my students to do a joint exhibition with the DUT Fine Art graduates.
The student exhibition did take place.  For me, I planned a watercolour and a cartoon exhibition with a book launch to go with it.  A few months before the date, I called Brenton but he didn’t answer my call.  I met him at the gallery and he, embarrassingly, said he knew nothing about an exhibition and he could, maybe, give me a small space just for a book launch!
Nandi Soobben cartoons soccer

SW:  I am absolutely flabbergasted! I had always thought that Brenton was pretty pro-active? It sounds like someone was nervous of social satire?
NS:  I don’t blame Brenton.  I think his intentions were good when he offered me the space in the first place.  I think he was just turned down by the board.
Maybe you could ask him about it?
SW:  I would very much like to do exactly that!

SW: Nanda, you received so many awards, including an honorary doctorate in 2010 from the Durban University of Technology.  Can you describe this experience?  Were any awards, in particular, special to you?
NS:  Not in my wildest dream did I expect to be called a doctor!  I was and still am deeply touched … I have won many awards and all of them were special.
The doctorate was so emotional for me. I took a while to speak because I was choking. This award took me the full circle - I wasn’t allowed to study there and there I was receiving a doctorate!

SW:  Nanda, I have followed your work.  Your pictures tell ‘a thousand words’.  In the apartheid period, you told your audience what was going on behind the scenes and today, you telling us about ‘history repeating itself’…. making the same mistakes!  That is the role of a good political cartoonist but sadly, today there seems to be fewer of you around. In fact, there are many more columnists doing a better and far wittier job.
It seems to me that since the decline of the newspaper, political cartoons have become less controversial.  After all, isn't controversy the life force behind the political cartoon?  Too many are playing it safe as the ‘politically correct'.  What is particularly upsetting for me, as an artist. is the lack of attention to the fundamentals of art and design ... and don’t get me started on inaccurate caricature!
So, what is this about?  Has the ‘internet canvas’ age produced lifeless and unimaginative cartoonists? What is the future for political cartooning?
NS:  Anyone with access to the internet can do a cartoon, but then you have to draw your own conclusions.  There are good cartoons and there are bad cartoons.  The internet does afford people space; something that I found hard to come about when there was no internet.
Dr Nandi Sooben cartoons
For me, doing a cartoon is about getting my opinions across.  It’s not about the money.  That’s because I own CFAD (a multi-media art school).  I also have a cult following which grew over 25 years and I would like them to still enjoy my work.  That’s another reason why I still keep at it.
I worked for the Daily News for about five years, until they couldn’t afford to pay me.  Recently, I gave it some thought and I decided to offer them my services for free. I felt the paper was not doing well and was the only mainstream newspaper in the country that didn’t carry a cartoon.  I have a following amongst the community I come from who are the biggest readers of this newspaper.

I made my gracious offer to the editor and it’s about four months now and I believe that he is still “thinking about it”!?  What is there to think about?  Is he one of those ‘dinosaurs in a grey suite’ who took great pleasure in preventing people of colour from showcasing their talents? Hope not!

SW:  It is a very sad day when our very own Daily News turns down what could be a daily dose of humour, insight and outstanding artwork!  I am appalled that your generous offer was not snapped up.  I think that I will be cancelling my subscription. 
Clearly, there is a problem and after four months, I reckon they have ‘Dunn’ thinking!  Is it a right-winged conspiracy?  I doubt that very much.  Is it the ‘corporate grey suit’ mentality… well, that’s possible as stifling talent is what many of them do best. Come to think about it; four months to make a decision here in Durban isn’t that long.  There are so many ‘meetings about the next meeting’ and everyone seems to go in circles!  Or is it little grey men or women sitting on the fence playing the safe game? Perhaps. Your cartoons are often confrontational and this challenges comfortable ideas and lifestyles.  They know that they can’t edit you!
Actually, I think that you answered my question.  The future of political cartooning looks pretty gloomy because it seems that some editors want editorial cartoons to be objective, like news stories.  They want illustrators not cartoonists. It’s a shame because creative talent cannot be harnessed in such a ‘grey’ environment!

SW:  So, Nanda, do you ever apologise for your cartoons?  I have read that death threats are standard issue for cartoonists who work in the political realm.  I suppose that if you were afraid, you wouldn’t publicise your opinions.
NS:  I owed no apologies for my cartoons! I said what I wanted to say if I believed it was the truth.  The only time you have to be afraid is when you are not telling the truth.  As a cartoonist, I don’t lie.  I just exaggerate the truth.

SW:  I see that you are still being called a “Black Cartoonist”.  What are your thoughts on that?
NS:  During the “Time of The Writer” conference held at UKZN, one of the guest writers said “Indians don’t want to be Black anymore” and as an afterthought, he said “some Blacks also don’t want to be Black!”
I was known as a “Black cartoonist” and I was very proud to be “Black”.  But, I also don’t want to be “Black” anymore.  I want to be “NON-RACIAL”… isn’t that, what we fought so hard for!?
SW:  I couldn’t agree more!  Give it up guys!  Let’s judge on merit alone.

SW:  Since you have come full circle, what do you say now about “Art can’t put food on the table”?
NS:  That is something people who are naïve and ill-informed tell you. I tell aspiring artists: “DON’T BELIEVE THEM!” Anything that you see today - whether it’s a little nut and bolt, a cell phone or an F1 racing car; remember there was an ARTIST behind it!
For example, take Gordon Murray’s achievement.
SW:  What is Gordon Murray’s claim to fame?
NS:  He is from Durban and studied at the old Natal Technical College which became Technikon Natal and is now a part of DUT after the merger.  Gordon Murray designed the McLaren F1 racing car that won the grandprix – Ayrton Senna, the famous Brazilian F1 Champion won his first grand prix in a McLaren.
It was a great honour to have received a doctorate with him and the previous year, we both won the Silver Tusk Award.

George bush by Nanda Soobben
SW:  And so, in a ‘nutshell’?
NS:  Nothing can be made without a DESIGN!  If you see what Gordon Murray has achieved and where he comes from, then the WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER!
SW:  And Dr. Nanda Soobben bears witness to that!

Last Words:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Realising how busy the softly spoken gentleman is, our conversation ended.  I had so much more to ask Nanda - like his cartoons that were presented to Nelson Mandela on his 77th birthday and the more recent caricature of Barack Obama which is now housed in Washington’s Smithsonian Museum.
For me, Nanda Soobben has not changed one bit.
He continues to ‘pull no punches’ and keeps a vigilant eye on the democracy and those threatening it. And to the ‘powers’ in DURBAN, I say SHAME ON YOU!
You should be acting like guardians of the public trust.  Great cartoonists are not polite but in truth, highlight what the rest of us may be thinking.
Bring back our evening dose of a “Soobben-inspired” grin!
Honour the work of this phenomenal human-being and give us a solo exhibition of his works to relish!  Nanda Soobben has made a huge contribution towards the preservation and promotion of South African heritage and culture and he is ours.

Fanizani Akuda 1932-2011

Fanizani Akuda

Left: Humble, gentle, talented;
The late Fanizani Akuda (Pic: African Fashion- MySpace)

It is with great sadness that the National Gallery of Zimbabwe learned of the death of veteran sculptor and artist Mr. Fanizani Akuda on Saturday 5 February 2011. Akuda has been long recognized as a sculptor of significance due to his unique and somewhat humorous signature style work that he has consistently been producing since the sixties.

A humble man, he was abounding with warmth, humility, and a piercing astuteness when it came to understanding the world of art, his position in it and that of the founders and architects of the stone sculpture movement.
Fanizani was an extremely family centered man and I recall many a time sitting with him and his dear and beloved wife while he would explain the meaning of his work both as it appeared and what was actually behind its appearance. He would lovingly go through each and every piece lined up neatly on his shelf exploding with laughter and mirth.
Once one had made friends with Fanizani, you would never be forgotten and hence many collectors returned to visit him over and over again. Over the years his children came into their own accompanying him everywhere and overseeing his interests and always in his best interest. As a result, both his wife and children fully understand his work, his aspirations and dreams and this phenomenon is always a mark of a real father who has carefully nurtured his offspring to be the worthy recipients of his baton in the journey of life.
The National Gallery mourns today on the sad passing of our dear artist, friend and colleague, Fanizani, a dedicated and talented artist, a loving husband and father who was a towering encapsulation of the best values of Zimbabwe through his genuine hospitality, unending warmth and true friendship.
May his Soul rest in Eternal peace and may God’s Blessings abound. May the family realize that so many people in the country and beyond stand with you at this time of great sadness and loss.
Doreen Sibanda
Executive Director
National Gallery of Zimbabwe
February 6, 2011

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Egyptian Revolution

This is a message from two artists: Moataz Nasr from Egypt and Safaa Erruas from Morocco

I have so much respect for Egypt and it's people. As the water cannons explode onto the public the crowd drop down onto their knees to pray. What a courageous people - what a wonderful act from the innocent. The bravery seen today must be seen in the eyes of the world - Change must happen immediately before one more person is killed.

This is shocking footage in what is becoming an increasingly worrying situation for the Egyptian people. All eyes are on the Egyptian Police and Armed Forces and I am hoping that stability prevails sooner than later. The President must be looking on too. The question is how many more people will have to die unnecessarily?

TO EGYPT | The world salutes your bravery!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Global Feminisms by Tracey Rose

What a performance. Tracey's art is created with a wonderful sense of courage and danger. She has that Ali G quality - who knows what will come from her outspoken works of honesty?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011