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Awol Erizku Gives The Great Art Masters 21st Century Updates In 'The Only Way is Up'

Ethiopian-born artist Awol Erizku gives the great art masters 21st century updates in The Only Way is Up at NYC's Hasted Kraeutler Gallery.

The Only Way is Up for emerging talent Awol Erizku after debuting his photo, sculpture, and installation exhibition at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in New York City. Born in Ethiopia, 26-year old Erizku wants to remove the “black art” connotation from artistic dialogues. It’s a very bold approach for such a young artist, but Erizku’s latest exhibition tells us that he is ambitious and serious about it.


The Only Way Is Up debuted in June 2014 and it sought to give the great art masters “21st century updates.” According to Hasted Kraeutler's website, the show took its title from a Quincy Jones record and consists of "re-contextualized and re-purposed ready-made objects." In an interview with Complex, Erizku explained “With the show, I am trying to create a new vernacular, in terms of how you see my work and black art as being universal.”

Erizku, who completed his B.A. at the Cooper Union in 2010 and received his M.F.A. from Yale, recently curated a group show entitled Deep End: Yale MFA Photo 2014, a presentation of work by photography recent graduates at Yale. The exhibition is currently on its third and final run at the Los Angeles gallery Diane Rosenstein Fine Art. The show features photography, video, sound installation, textiles, sculpture, performance, and mixed media by five men and five women who are testing the limits of their chosen medium.

Erizku says his first inspiration came from the Bronx where he wanted to paint a more positive outlook on the youth of his community who were subjects of harsh and critical stereotypes. Though Erizku’s subjects may appear mundane or even unappealing to some, he seeks to bridge the gap on how people define beauty by working with these “unappealing” subjects. “‘Hidden in plain sight’ in my work extends to the people I photograph," he told Palladium Boots. "To me, they are beautiful but they aren’t models. Finding a regular person and seeing the beauty in them and wanting to work with them and photograph them is a kind of discovery.”

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"Kata" single cover.

Listen to Tekno's New Single 'Kata'

The Nigerian artist and producer returns with a melodic banger just in time for the weekend.

Nigerian artist Tekno is back with his second single of the year, "Kata."

The heavyweight artist and producer delivers a melodic track that sees him singing about his devotion to his lover over drum-filled production from Phantom. The track features subdued vocals from. the artist, and a beat that's easy to move along to. The song follows the track 'Beh Beh' which he released earlier this year.

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Image courtesy of ARRAY.

What to Watch at Home During Coronavirus Shutdown: ARRAY's New Digital African Film Series

The film platform, from director Ava DuVernay, is hosting a weekly movie-viewing experience for the "global online community of cinephiles."

If you're looking for African films to dive into while at home during the coronavirus outbreak, a new digital series from award-winning director Ava DuVernay's film collective ARRAY is a great place to start. The multi-media platform and arts collective is launching its #ARRAYMatinee series, and each film will be available for viewing here.

#ARRAYMatinee is a virtual movie-viewing experience that will screen a string of the collective's previously released independent films from Africa and the diaspora. The weekly series begins on Wednesday, April 1 with a viewing of the 2015 South African coming-of-age film Ayanda. "Viewers will take a cinematic journey to the international destinations and cultures featured in five films that were released via the ARRAY Releasing independent film distribution collective that amplifies that work of emerging filmmakers of color and women of all kinds," says the platform in a press release. To promote a communal viewing experience, viewers are also encouraged to have discussions on Twitter, using the hashtag #ARRAYMatinee.

The five-part series will run weekly until May 13, and also includes films from Liberia, Ghana, and Grenada. See the full viewing schedule below with descriptions from ARRAY, and visit ARRAY's site at the allotted times to watch.

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Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories.

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Stogie T Enlists Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and More, for ‘The Empire of Sheep’ Deluxe Edition

Stream the deluxe version of Stogie T's EP 'The Empire of Sheep' featuring Nasty C, Boity, Nadia Nakai and more.

Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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