Amsterdam North | 27.02.2020
We virtually met up with the organizers of the touring pan-African exhibition Prête-Moi ton rêve Fihr Kettani, general secretary of the Fondation pour le Développement de la Culture Contemporaine Africaine (FDCCA).
What drove you to organize the touring Pan-African Exhibition Prête-Moi ton Rêve and how did you start?
At the beginning, it started with a dream. A dream to see African art spread across its own continent. The idea was to decolonise the land and to break down borders in order to redesign a map of contemporary African art. This new map would position Africa at its centre in a clear and natural way.
The objective for Prête-Moi ton Rêve was always clear from the beginning; African art, for Africa by Africans.
Connecting a constellation of contemporary African artists to each other in order to make their work shine throughout their continent was the original idea behind the exhibition “Prête-Moi ton rêve”.
What was the motivation that led you to organize the travelling exhibition, how did everything start?
In recent years we have witnessed an unforeseen excitement surrounding contemporary African culture. Yet, even though this passion for African artists has continued to grow internationally, even to the point of attracting the interest of the general public, it remains limited to a handful of art lovers and collectors on the African continent.
Aware of the need for African people to (re)appropriate their own culture and art, and of the importance for artists from the continent to find their own following, the Foundation wishes to work to make contemporary works more visible in their homelands. We want to do this not only by working to enhance the value of the art to an African public – from amateurs to connoisseurs – but also by participating in the stimulation of the intra-African art market.
Why did you choose Casablanca as the first city?
The Foundation is based in Casablanca so we chose to do the first leg in our hometown. Many of the artists exhibiting as part of “Prête-Moi ton rêve” were doing residencies in Casablanca before the exhibition and created new, original works ready for the exhibition launch.
Tell us about the process that led you to choose the theme, the artistic disciplines and the format of the Pan-African Exhibition Prête-Moi ton Rêve.
Bringing together thirty artists with international acclaim, of fifteen different nationalities, the large majority of them residing in Africa, this first ambitious project exhibits more than 100 works reflecting the abundance and the vitality that makes up the art scene of this continent.
“Prête-moi ton rêve” also exhibits an extensive range of new pieces, crafted specially by the artists during their residencies that preceded this event, resulting in iconic works being added to the show.
Tell us about your relationship with the local community and how you chose Dakar, Abidjan, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Cape Town.
The selection reflects a diverse picture of the African continent. For example, Gora Mbeng immortalizes the beautiful Senegalese women in her paintings under glass and Seudou Keita and Malick Sidibé document a Malian perspective of African modernity through the medium of photography.
Amongst other objectives, the Foundation aims to rally the different key figures who are active in the continent’s art ecosystem as a means of supporting the art scene’s dynamic through the encouragement of pan-African cultural collaboration.
For each step of the tour, we work with a local curator for the Carte Blanche section of the exhibition and a local artist for the homage show in order to celebrate the individuality of the artistic scene in that place.
How many people make up your team? Which are their professions?
We have a team of seven: Yacouba Konaté, general curator, Brahim Allaoui, artistic curator, Arnaud Liguer-Laubhouet, Vice-President of the FDCCA, Fihr Kettani, general secretary and Mohamed Chaoui El Faiz (Cultural Advisor) and Ismael Azzenar (General Secretary Adjoint), Issam Bargach, (Communications Advisor).
How long did it take to plan Pan-African Exhibition Prête-moi ton Rêve?
Artist residences were held during the summer of 2018, before “Prête-Moi ton rêve” was officially inaugurated in Casablanca in June 2019. This was the project’s first concrete step. Prior to this, there was also time to reflect and consult all the various stakeholders, artists, curators, and foundation team members, in order to consider the best way to go about the exhibition’s preparation. Overall, this planning took about two years.
Which audiences are you trying to attract?
All too often the careers of African artists are built on exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, London and New York. All too often exhibitions focus on Africa and invite African artists, but go by without anybody in Africa actually noticing them. These exhibitions and events concern Africa and their echoes – distant and yet so close – and interfere with debates about Africa. We are haunted by these ghost-like events that create the nagging feeling that Africa as an art scene has been completely ignored and that a part of Africa’s cultural memory has been pushed to one side. And the misunderstanding persists that nothing intrinsically African is actually happening, that nothing of any worth could possibly be taking place in Kinshasa, Lagos or in any other city on the continent.
Have you planned different goals for each city you will exhibit?
Ultimately there are the same objectives for each city. We aim to attract and invite the local public to the exhibition, encourage exchanges and interactions between the artists, and we want to show the vibrancy and liveliness of the African art scene in Africa.