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The Progress of Love: Diasporic Exhibit in Lagos, St. Louis & Houston

The Progress of Love is an African art exhibit that explores the expression of love in African culture. African documentary by Zina Saro-Wiwa explores kissing.


The Progress of Love, a joint exhibition in Lagos, Houston, and St. Louis explores African culture through questions of intimacy and cultural performances of love in the African Diaspora. The different exhibitions, at the Center for Contemporary Art - Lagos, The Menil Collection - Houston, and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts - St. Louis, examine the role of African culture, media, and economics in creating ideas and expectations that mediate the social performance of love in the digital era.  If love is universal, how is it differently manifested across contextual realities? How is love in Africa or among Africans understood and portrayed globally?

"How Do Africans Kiss?" voiced off camera is the first in an series of progressively intimate prompts given to subjects in Eaten By The Heart, a video piece by Zina Saro-Wiwa that views like a casting screen-test. The piece which considers the "mapping of emotional landscapes" and kissing in African culture is part of an exhibition of more than twenty artists to open at the Menil Collection in Houston, TX on 2 Dec 2012.

"I wonder how the impact of how we choreograph and culturally organize the performance of love impacts what we feel inside and who we become."

-Zina Saro-Wiwa

With exhibitions already open in Lagos and St. Louis, the Menil Collection opening completes an unusual geographic triad. Be sure to check the project site for more information on exhibitions and the exciting set of artists featured in the show.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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