Africa as a place and a font of diaspora has long served as an energizing if contentious context for producing, mediating, and sustaining art and art making. Significations is a dialogic exhibition that frames contemporary imaginations of a capacious Africa as a subject of conversation among artists from all over the Atlantic World. It extends a previous exhibition ReSignifications, that opened in Florence, Italy, in 2015.
ReSignifications offered a revision of, and re-engagement with, the history and historicity of black portraitures by inviting contemporary artists from Africa, Europe and the Americas to translate and re-stage a collection of sculptures and paintings depicting ornamental black bodies associated with decorative art known to us as “Blackamoors.” Embedded within centuries-old discourses, cross-cultural encounters, and artistic productions shaped by migration, conquest, servitude, and exile, these objects presented a rich opportunity for artists to deconstruct, compare, and contextualize portrayals of the black body in western societies from multidisciplinary angles.
Significations builds on the curatorial narrative of that exhibition by staging works in which African and African diasporic conventions of theme and style inscribe such ideas as subjectivity, citizenship, and spirituality into the larger, trans-African world of art-making. From geometry and calligraphy, through paintings and sculptures, to music and photography, Significations will offer a dialogic display of visual and performing arts that archives the texts and methods of an expansive contemporary Africa.
In Havana (Cuba) the exhibition will be titled Significations (May 9th – June 5th 2017) and in Lagos (Nigeria) it will be titled ReInventions (May 20th – July 30th 2017). Works from both exhibitions will add to ReSignifications that opens in Palermo (Italy) under the MANIFESTA Biennale in 2018.
Awam Amkpa – Curator
Nayo Sasaki-Picou – Assistant Curator
Layo Olayiwola – Assistant Curator