Arts + Culture

Angola Wins, But Germany's 'ART Das Kunstmagazin' Wonders: Where Is Angola?

German magazine 'ART Das Kunstmagazin' mars Angola's win at Leon d'Oro prize with narrow-minded "Where is Angola?" review.


With Angola for the first time a sub-Saharan African country has won the Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion) prize for the best national pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennial. The distinction for an African national pavilion, however, has been greeted with inappropriate prejudice by ART - Das Kunstmagazin, Germany's leading art magazine. ART commented the jury's decision with the question "Angola! Where is Angola?" It claimed that hardly any visitor actually saw the work of the photo artist Edson Chagas in Palazzo Cini and speculated about "successful lobbying and networking" by curator Stefano Rabolli Pansera. The only reason which was given for these vague conjectures was the fact that Stefano Rabolli Pansera had already curated Angola's contribution to the architecture biennial a year ago. The German article is available here.

We ask ourselves what kind of "networking and lobbying" had preceded the Leone d'Oro prizes which were previously awarded to the national pavilions of the U.S., with Bruce Nauman in 2009, and of Germany with Christoph Schlingensief curated by Susanne Gaensheimer in 2011? Was there also speculation happening back then about the reasons for these successes? Were those winning countries, artists and curators maybe too established and influential so that there was no reason to worry about illegitimate manoeuvring? Are only Africans again considered prone to the cronyism and patronage which ART more stately translated with "networking and lobbying" to make it fit to the aristocratic environment of Venice's palazzos? ART dutifully speaks about detractors spreading such rumours, but the question remains why an influential German art magazine provided ample space for vague suppositions by obviously resentful competitors.

ART is issued by the largest German publishing house Gruner & Jahr which itself belongs to the media conglomerate Bertelsmann. It's primarily financed by advertisements of major galleries, museums, art fairs and auction houses and it would be very interesting to find out which hidden agendas ART is pursuing with its lopsided coverage of Angola's success in Venice. Maybe some disappointment about the showing of its own major business clients during the event in Venice played a role as well. The article was written by Ute Thun who calls herself "Senior Editor" at this magazine. Ute Thun mocked the choice of Angola's national pavilion to mirror the motto of the main exhibition "Encyclopaedic Palace" by calling the Angolan presentation ""Luanda - An Encyclopaedic City", instead of ignoring the main exhibition's theme as allegedly all the other national pavilions did. The question: What is wrong with picking up and variegating the main exhibition's motto? Does it mean that the artistic quality of Angola's contribution is inferior just due to its decision to artistically interpret the Venice biennial's central theme? Or does she want to tell us that the other national pavilions’ decision to deliberately ignore the main exhibition's theme proves their independence and intellectualism?

All in all, it's somewhat disappointing to see Ute Thun's narrow-minded, almost stereotypic viewpoint on this year's winner of the Leone d'Oro contrast with the magazine's aspiration to cover the art scene from a global perspective.

Safia Dickersbach, an art market practitioner, born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, currently based in Berlin, Germany, is the Public Relations Director of Artfacts.Net, a British company which is the leading online database for modern and contemporary

popular

Tay Iwar: Nigeria's Most Reclusive Musician Opens Up

In his most open interview ever, the Nigerian artist demystifies himself, opening up about his reclusive personality and why emotions are the biggest drivers of his art.

Tay Iwar won't touch anything that lacks a strong emotional pull. It's a driver for all the music that he makes.

He has been a satiated lover ("Satisfied"), a vulnerable sage ("Weather Song"), an existentialist thinker ("Utero"), and a straight-up loser ("Sugardaddy") across his debut album's songs. "I fell in love with you and I almost died," he sings on "Monica," the lead single off that album, Gemini.

When I ask Tay about Gemini on a hot, sweaty afternoon at his Bantu Studio in Abuja, Nigeria, he seems proud of it. Staring into the distance, he says he considers the RnB fusion record his first album which doesn't have him selling emotions to people. He is simply expressing himself now, rather than the more "packaged" offerings on his previous projects Passport (2014) and Renascentia (2016). It's huge artistic growth for a 21-year-old, one in which he is basking.

Tay, born Austin Iornongu Iwar, hated it when his father forced him to take classic piano lessons at an early age. But by the time he was 13, and midway through high school, that sentiment had become the opposite; he had fallen deeply in love with the art, making music on his computer, and teaming up with his brothers—Sute and Terna Iwar—to co-found the Bantu Collective. His first love was the guitar, but something about making music on the colourful "video game" early version of the FL Studio software got him hooked. Mastering instruments, and becoming a sound engineer gave him a high-level of understanding of music creation. At 16, he released his debut project, Passport, which became an instant niche favorite, offering him a modicum of fame and demand that surprised the artist.

Keep reading... Show less
Culture
Danielle Ekwueme.

This 21-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Bringing Nigerian Palm Wine Into the Future One Bottle At a Time

With her bottled palm wine company "Pamii" Daniella Ekwueme is improving on tradition and filling a void in the Nigerian spirits market.

In 2016, Daniella Ekwueme, the founder of the Nigerian palm wine company Pamii, had a casual thought when looking out at her mother's land in Abuja. "She just had this farmland and she wasn't doing anything with it," she recalls. "So I was like 'Oh, have you ever thought of planting palm trees and getting palm oil or palm wine and boxing it up?"

While her mother's answer was no, the thought took hold in her young, entrepreneurial mind. She'd had palm wine—an alcoholic drink made from the sap of various species of palm trees and endeared to many Nigerians—at weddings and gatherings in the past, but it never quite "hit the spot" so to speak. "I realized that every time I've had palm wine in Lagos or Abuja, it's always off or sour. Because palm wine ferments, so the longer you leave it, it gets bitter and [undrinkable]. So anytime I've had it at weddings it just doesn't taste right to me."

This presented an opportunity for the young student who was just 18-years-old at the time and moving between Lagos, London and Abuja: she could improve upon an age-old product, still very much in demand, by revamping the production process and packaging it. After extensive research and visits to local palm wine farms in Abuja, Ekwueme decided she was ready to experiment. Along with a small team, she bottled her first batches of palm wine in December 2017, calling the product Pamii—a naturally-brewed, premium palm wine. Ekwueme's product is different—it fills a void in the Nigerian spirits market because it's actually Nigerian-made. She reminds me that while her company isn't the first to try bottling the beverage, others fell short due to "poor execution, poor branding," and failure to "cultivate a brand and lifestyle around it."

Keep reading... Show less
Music

Rouge, Moozlie, A-Reece, J Molley & The Big Hash Will Be Part of Sway’s South African Cypher

Sway will certify more South African hyenas next month.

Sway is coming to South Africa for the #CastleLightUnlocks event. The renowned media personality has proven fond of South Africa's hip-hop scene (who wouldn't be?). Sway has hosted the likes of Cassper Nyovest, AKA, Nasty C, Stogie T and Kwesta on Sway In The Morning in the last three years.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.