African Artists Take Over NYC: Okayafrica’s Guide To Armory Weekend

It’s a big weekend for African artists in New York City. Here’s everything you should know to get you through Armory Week.

Aida Muluneh, Sai Mado / The distant gaze, 2016, on view now at David Krut Projects

It’s Armory Week, and New York is having one of its biggest weekends ever for African artists. Here’s our guide to what’s happening.

Armory Focus: African Perspectives

By far the largest event this week, and one of the most prestigious events on the New York arts calendar, is the Armory Show. Now in its seventh edition, the 2016 Armory Focus, which spotlights art from a different region each year, is African Perspectives - Spotlighting Artistic Practices of Global Contemporaries, curated by Contemporary And co-founders Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba.

According to the Armory’s communication manager, Audrey Rose Smith, the show is “the largest grouping of contemporary African artists at an American art fair to date.” The invitational section consists of 14 galleries, and the South African contemporary art galleries Gallery MOMO, Stevenson and Goodman Gallery are also exhibiting in the main section of the Armory Show on Pier 94.

The Armory Focus takes place March 3-6 on Pier 94 in New York City.

Tony Gum at Pulse NY

As Okayafrica’s Antoinette Isama reports, Tony Gum is bringing Cape Town cool to New York City this week. The South African artist is making her U.S. debut as the only African artist to showcase at this year’s Pulse New York, where she’s been nominated for the PRIZE, a grant given to an “artist of distinction” who’s featured in a solo exhibition.

Cuban artist Ciro Quintana, featured at the Aracia Gallery, uses vibrant colors and nods to the country’s African roots with the incorporation of drums in his piece, "The bang bang Boom Boom of Cuban Art."

PULSE New York runs from March 3 to 6 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street.


While its specific focus might not be on the continent, there are definitely a few African artists and galleries to look out for at VOLTA NY, the smaller affiliate of Armory focused on emerging artists from around the world. Ethan Cohen New York is showing the art of Ivorian painter Aboudia and Mozambican sculptor Gonçalo Mabunda at the gallery’s “Africa New Wave” booth. The booth for Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) features the work of New York’s Tschabalala Self. Harare’s First Floor Gallery is showing Wycliffe Mundopa, while Nairobi’s ARTLabAfrica is showing Paul Onditi.

Art South Africa reports that in total, the fair is presenting nine African artists, including Dawit Abebe (Ethiopia), Aboudia (Côte d’Ivoire), Armand Boua (Côte d’Ivoire), Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambique), Cameron Platter (South Africa), Ibrahim El Dessouki (Egypt), Paul Onditi (Kenya), Mário Macilau (Mozambique), and Wycliffe Mundopa (Zimbabwe).

VOLTA NY runs from March 2-6 at Pier 90, West 50th Street at 12th Avenue.

Aida Muluneh The World is 9 at David Krut Projects

Ethiopian photographer Aïda Muluneh‘s new solo show, The World is 9, opened yesterday at David Krut Projects. The show features 28 new pieces created by the Addis Ababa-based artist, in which Muluneh questions life, love, history and whether we can live in this world with full commitment.

The exhibition’s title comes from an expression Muluneh’s grandmother repeated: “Living in Addis Ababa for the past nine years has been a lesson; a lesson in humility, and a lesson in what it means to return to a land that was foreign to me,” the artist says. “Over the past nine years, an expression of my grandmother has stuck in my mind – she would say, 'The world is 9, it is never complete and it’s never perfect.'"

Aida Muluneh The World is 9 is on view March 3 to April 16 at David Krut Projects.

Ibrahim El-Salahi’s Alhambra At Salon 94

Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi makes his Salon 94 solo exhibition debut this week. The show, Alhambra, features new works by the seminal Modernist master painter.

Alhambra runs March 1 to April 24 at Salon 94 Bowery, located at 243 Bowery near Stanton Street.


This Compilation Shines a Light On East African Underground Music

We talk to a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation from Uganda's Nyege Nyege.

Nyege Nyege, a label in Kampala, Uganda is channelling the confidence brimming over a whole continent. Africa is no longer the future. For dance music, its time is right now.

Music For the Eagles is a compilation released in conjunction with Soundcloud to showcase the best new acts that East Africa has to offer outside the mainstream. A new wave of artists firmly blasting non-conformist energy for you to spasm to. Music that takes you places. Otim Alpha's high BPM wedding frenzy of incessant rasping vocals accompanied by feverous violin will have you clawing the walls to oblivion. Anti Vairas' dancehall from a battleship with super galactic intentions doesn't even break a sweat as it ruins you. FLO's beautiful sirens call, is a skittish and detuned nursery rhyme that hints at a yearning for love but reveals something far more unnerving. Ecko Bazz's tough spiralling vocal over sub-bass and devil trap energy is an anthem that can only be bewailed. And Kidane Fighter's tune is more trance-like prayer. These are only some of the highlights for you to shake it out to.

We got to chat with a few of the artists featured on the Music For the Eagles compilation as they took a break from the studio below.

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