The pop-up exhibition taking place in Amsterdam North presents the work of eighteen African artists who use outward appearances to tell a deeply rooted story. They upend perceptions of Africa through the use of irony, beauty and style.
The exhibition is an outtake of the last N’GOLÁ biennial (São Tomé & Príncipe July 26- August 18, 2019), curated by Renny Ramakers. During her research, she was struck by the extent to which fashion, style and beauty can be manifestations of dignity, identity and self-realisation on the African continent. This paradox of apparent superficiality that actually functions as a serious counterforce, developed into an important theme for the exhibition. The end result in São Tomé & Príncipe provoked a dialogue between the artworks as much as between the artists—who were almost all present at the opening— that merits continuation.
The aim is “to make this pop-up exhibition a travelling exhibition, we hope to bring this pop-up exhibition to various other places, and eventually back to the African continent. “, say the organizers.
The works in NOW LOOK HERE invite the public to look at Africa with fresh eyes: artists there have been working on a different narrative about the continent for quite some time: look, here, now.
At first glance, the artists stand out for its attention to outward appearance: everything is colourful, radiant, smooth, and aesthetic. On closer inspection, the seductive surface proves to be a lure that draws visitors into a deeper story, in which perspectives are reversed: white becomes black, stigma becomes beauty, a skivvy turns out to be a high priestess, and apparent footnotes to history are revealed as prominent figures.
The works address, directly or indirectly, the historical abuses and current troubles that dominate the media image of Africa. But the artists take charge of this image, and in doing so, set a completely different tone. What connects the photos, videos and performances in NOW LOOK HERE is a superior game of clichés and prejudices, in which humour, beauty and optimism challenge daily reality.
The main exhibition has been curated by Renny Ramakers and is accompanied by a publication. An extra layer is added by curator Azu Nwagbogu that dives in the connection with the African diaspora in the Netherlands. The exhibition designer is Edith Gruson.
The group exhibition includes works by Blinky Bill (Kenya), Tabi Bonney (Togo/VS), Justin Dingwall (South Africa), Omar Victor Diop (Senegal), Sunny Dolat (Kenya), Samuel Fosso (Cameroon), Raquel van Haver (Colombia/The Netherlands), Bobbin Case & Jan Hoek (Uganda & the Netherlands), Lola Keyezua (Angola), Osborne Macharia (Kenya), Emo de Medeiros (Benin/France), Sethembile Msezane (South Africa), Yves Sambu & Sapeurs (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mary Sibande (South Africa), Bulewezwe Siwani (The Netherlands/South- Africa), Stephen Tayo (Nigeria) and Sarah Waiswa (Uganda).
NOW LOOK HERE – The African of Appearance
New North, Asterweg 17, in Amsterdam North
January 24th – March 9th, 2020
Wednesday to Sunday from 11.00 to 19.00 hrs.