'Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design' at Vitra Design Museum in Germany showcases work by 120+ African artists and designers.
Images provided by Vitra Design Museum
Two years of research and interviews with more than 70 designers, artists, and curators culminate in Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design. The six-month-long exhibition made its debut on March 15 at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and will be on view until September. According to the museum’s press release, the show “illustrates how design accompanies and fuels economic and political changes on the continent.”
Making Africa showcases over 120 artists and designers, many of whom practice across disciplines. Collectively, they are photographers, architects, designers, artists, and filmmakers, and their work is as vastly divergent as their nations of origin. Notable among them are Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru; Malian architect and designer Cheick Diallo; and Mozambican photographer Mario Macilau.
Attendants can expect a multidimensional and refreshingly contemporary look at African design that pushes back against the tired trope of “Africa Rising,” with its obsession on the continent's so-called expanding middle class. Making Africa does, however, acknowledge nuances in communication and digital identity, with things like burgeoning mobile phone usage among Africans on the continent.
The exhibition also ignites a conversation across generations. Work from pioneers like Malick Sidibe and Seydou Keita are deliberately displayed alongside their contemporaries, making for a subtle invitation to imagine connections and different routes of inspiration across time and discipline.
Vitra Design Museum’s Amelie Klein curated the exhibition, and she was consulted by Okwui Enwezor, director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst as well as this year’s Venice Biennale. Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design is on display now through September 13.
Tamerra Griffin is a Bay Area native currently living in Brooklyn. She holds an M.A. in journalism and Africana studies from New York University, and writes for BuzzFeed News. She loves transnational literature, pick-up soccer, chicken yassa, and live-tweeting her favorite TV shows. Follow her on Twitter at @tamerra_nikol.