African Artist

oil and tree cycles: art and activism – join global cycle day 24 Sept

This post comes to you from An Arts and Ecology Notebook

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Image left: Bidon arme (Loaded Drum), 2004 Romuald Hazoume Right: Treebike – image from the International freecard alliance for World Environment day, 5 June 2009

An exhibition that I stumbled upon accidentally a few months ago has stayed with me. On a visit to the Irish Museum of Modern in April 2011 I came across African artist Romuald Hazoume’s very thought provoking and surprisingly enjoyable installations of ‘masks’, sculptures, documentary film and photography work.

Mon Général, 1992

"Mon Général", 1992 by Hazoume

Romuald Hazoumè, one of Africa’s most important visual artists, creates playful sculptures and masks made from discarded plastic canisters commonly found in his native Benin (a small country neighbouring Nigeria)  for transporting black-market petrol (known as kpayo) from Nigeria. As can be seen in his image (above left) these jerry cans are expanded over flames to increase their fuel-carry capacity, sometimes to excess resulting in fatal explosions. Hazoume’s work richly references mask making culture from his African heritage to commenting on his country’s predicament of being caught up in the day-to-day and often unacknowledged misery of the global fossil fuel industry.  His work is engaging on very many levels and to a wide audience; from children who love the use of his found objects to adults that can see the political concerns in his work, to others who see a continuation of identity expressed in local materials made into masks.  ‘Hazoumé has used the cans as a potent metaphor for all forms of slavery, past and present, drawing parallels with the vessels’ role as crucial but faceless units within commercial systems, dangerously worked to breaking point before being discarded (Tate Modern, 2007)

From across this side of the planet my own work attempts to touch some of these concerns too. My long term project the hollywood diaries to transform our conifer plantation to a permanent forest has real long term energy returns as we are very shortly to discontinue use of oil for our home heating (a common and increasingly expensive form of domestic heating in Ireland) and use our never-ending supply of forest thinnings. In fact, I was startled to learn recently from my forestry contacts, that our ongoing selective harvesting to keep the forest vibrant and encourage the native tree seedlings to flourish, will mean that we’ll have 70 tonnes of wood every three to four years from our small two acres!! Crikey!

The image on the above right, Treebike, is a pointer to this month’s global day of cycling, Moving Planet lead by Bill McKibben and his global 350.org organisation to invite us all to get on our bikes this Sept 24th, 2011. I’ve always been amazed at the huge response to these events and how often the arts help mobilise such activities.

Here’s the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ztEgLXSiek – as in the past you can goto 350.org and join in the fun but its also a serious campaign too

‘Circle September 24 on your calendar–that’s the day for what we’re calling Moving Planet: a day to move beyond fossil fuels…

On 24 September we’ll be figuring out the most meaningful ways to make the climate message move, literally. We’ll show that we can use our hands, our feet, and our hearts to spur real change. In many places, people will ride bicycles, one of the few tools used by both affluent and poor people around the world. Other places people will be marching, dancing, running, or kayaking, or skateboarding. Imagine the spectacle: thousands of people encircling national capitals, state houses, city halls.

But we won’t just be cycling or marching–we’ll also be delivering a strong set of demands that can have real political impact.”

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Note: some of you might be aware that I have returned to art college to undertake in-depth research on experimental film and ecology in the last year – if you want to follow along, my research site is www.ecoartfilm.com

I’ve recently created a small film sketch on how our small conifer plantation  is being transformed, comments welcome!!

http://vimeo.com/27704065

An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.
Go to An Arts and Ecology Notebook

2ND KUMASI BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM: COMMUNITY ARTS IN FOCUS

Date: July 16 -August 6, 2011 Venue: Kumasi and the Nearby Village of Abetenim in Ashanti Region of Ghana

The problem the symposium addresses is the widening gap between contemporary African artist and the community in changing times. There is an obvious social disconnection; yet, the fine arts and craft are viewed the same by the general public, including deep in the village. How can we meaningfully engage the rural sub-Saharan population in the contemporary artistic process? How can we broaden the scope of the Curio Kiosks project of the first Kumasi Symposium that was a successful attempt to bring international contemporary art to the general public who might not normally come to art galleries and museums?

In light of these questions and social concerns, the 3-week event will focus on community arts practice, as a response to the growing problem. We define community arts, also known as “participatory arts” or “community-based arts,” as the world of artistic processes and forms made by, with, or for a community setting that may emphasize community involvement and collaboration. Most often, it involves engagement with the issues and practices for communal bonds and empowerment for grassroots social change. We will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural sites such as market places, local schools, village centers, and others as laboratories for workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific installations, lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world.

Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. We aim that the participants will be inspired by one another’s work.

Registration for the 3-week event will be $520 / €395 / £328 in Ghana or equivalent in local currency; and early registration is $466 / €350 / £305 (till April 17, 2011). Participants are responsible for the costs of travel and materials; and we will provide you with a letter of candidature for your sponsor. Hotel accommodation or homestay for cultural immersion can be arranged within your budget. Dinner will be by cooperative kitchen in which we all work together in sharing the planning, cost, shopping and cooking; the estimate is $7-9/day. It has been more of a dinner party, a time to come together to sample national cuisines, have fun at the table and bond as a community. The symposium opens with a 2-day seminar. It will close with a Community ArtsFest, which will involve two days of exhibitions and screenings of project results along with food and performances by indigenous music and dance troupes from surrounding villages. Prizes to the winners of the “GHANA: 2011 OPEN ARchiTecture CHALLENGE” (International art+architecture Design Competition) will be awarded at the closing banquette.

Grand Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Mitsuru Hamada, Architect, Tokyo, Japan)

Second Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Giuseppe Calabrese, Architect, Sydney, Australia)

Third Prize Winning Entry

(Design Team: Claire Taggart, Architect, London, UK)

Interested individuals and collaborative groups should apply by submitting the abstract of your paper (200 words maximum) for the seminar or project proposal in English with a brief biography (200 words maximum) of the presenter to info@nkafoundation.org. The submitter should include title of the contribution and author(s) information such as name, affiliation, address, phone contact, and e-mail. Upon acceptance, author(s) can decide to publish the full text or only the abstract in symposium proceedings. The deadline for the full text submission is July 1. If submitting full paper (6,000 words maximum in APA format) e-mail it to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. For additional information go to www.nkafoundation.org

(Press Version)

2ND KUMASI BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM: COMMUNITY ARTS IN FOCUS

Date: July 16 -August 6, 2011 Venue: Kumasi and the Nearby Village of Abetenim in Ashanti Region of Ghana

The 3-week event will focus on community arts practice, as a response to the growing problem of widening gap between contemporary African artist and the rural community. We will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural sites such as market places, local schools, village centers, and others as laboratories for workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific installations, lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world. Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. Project is open to only serious applicants. For additional information or registration e-mail to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. Project web site is www.nkafoundation.org.

 

KUMASI CURIO KIOSKS II

(Arts+ Architecture Social Experiment)

Kumasi Curio Kiosks II is a part of the 2nd Kumasi Biennial Symposium that will run from July 16 – August 6, 2011, as a response to the growing problem of widening gap between contemporary arts practitioners and the broader public across the sub-Sahara. As arts+ architecture social experiment, project is to bring together arts specialists, architects, and social interest groups from diverse parts of the world in a transnational platform to trade in cultural capital with the local public who might not normally come to art galleries and museums.

In the project, we will use Kumasi City-Abetenim rural spaces such as market places, local schools, and village centers, as empirical sites for curio kiosk workshops, artistic interventions, site-specific lectures and other community-based approaches from around the world. Each participant or collaborating team will created own curio kiosk; the size/design is open to the subject-specific needs and site-specific necessities. We use the term “curio kiosk” in anticipation that the outward design or content will invoke curiosity and bear special attraction to the public.

Thus, we invite individual or group submissions for community theatre, media arts, readings, film screening, slide shows, open studios, visual activism, musical performances, community design, social architecture and others to allow the rural community to become acquainted with international contemporary artistic practice. Project is open to only serious applicants; submissions will be reviewed until July 8, 2011. Submit your curio kiosk proposal (sketches/description) to info@nkafoundation.org and/or nkaprojects@gmx.com. Project web site is www.nkafoundation.org. And we seek as we go, nominations for the Project Curator and an expert in filmmaking/media arts, to do the DVD and create the e-publication.

Photos from the 2009 Kumasi Curio Kiosks

Slipper Kiosk Project by Patrick Tagoe-Turkson, Ghana

Portrait Shop by Brigitte Mulders, The Netherlands (portrait painter)

For additional information on the 2009 Kumasi Curio Kiosks, see:

(1) http://www.artinprocess.com/Kiosks this is a 05:56 minute video on Curio Kiosks Project.

(2) Photo Documentary, 500 photos on Flickers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artinprocess/sets/72157621992680241/ and

(3) http://www.wandsbektransformance.de/news.html to download the Artists’ Catalogue.