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Lend me your dream : pan-African exhibition

"Lend me your dream, a panafrican traveling exhibition, is an ambitious project led by the FDCCA (Foundation for the Developement of the African Contemporary).

The idea was born in Mali thanks to a discussion between a Moroccan gallery owner and recognized African artists, including Abdoulaye Konaté.

Their findings : they have an international reputation, i.e., outside Africa and are present in the collections of the greatest museums and collectors, but unknown to the general public on their own continent!

FDCCA was born years later and made dreams turn into reality.

Artists support was also an important factor in the concretization of the project, artists in residence in Morocco contributed to the success of the project. They include Abdoulaye Konaté from Mali, Soly Cissé from Senegal, Barthélemy Toguo from Cameroon, or even the South-African artist, William Kentrige.

A traveling exhibition in different countries in North and South Africa

In June 2019, after an artist residency in Morocco, a pan-African adventure began in Casablanca supported by the FDCCA foundation and the 38 Gallery, managed by two commissioners : Yacouba Konaté, an art teacher and general manager of the African performing arts market (MASA), and Morrocan et lBrahim Alaoui former director of the Arab World Institute in Paris.

After the Morrocan departure from June 18 to July 30 at the Union House and a Dakar (Senegal) stopover from December 6 to January 28, it is now in Ivory Coast, Abidjan, from March 12 to April 29.

This will be followed by Lagos (Nigeria), Addis-Abeda (Chad) and Cape Town (South Africa), like a cultural caravan ambassadors of contemporary African art, ending in Marrakech in 2020.

The exhibition grows with each stopover, from 28 artists in Morocco to around thirty since the Dakar stopover. And, at each stop, the exhibition pays tribute to a local artist in recognition of his or her work: Farid Belkahia lent himself to the game in Casablanca, and Soly Cissé was honored in Dakar.

In Dakar, I couldn't miss this beautiful exhibition that kept her promises by bringing together all in one place well-known artists works, different in style, but united in work and creativity!

Bring together some fifty artists of international renown is an ambitious and costly idea. Moving these works from North to South is undoubtedly a logistical, human, and technical obstacle course on a continent where the movement of goods and people is still fraught with pitfalls.

They dared : a commendable performance, bravo !

The main exhibition was settled in the Black Civilization Museum, blowing out its first candle at the same time. The “free rein” exhibition curated by El Hadji Malick N'Diaye, entitled “Fent Bokk", brings together young talents at Dakar's Musée Théodore Monod until December 2020.

New artists joined the Dakar stage, such as Bernie Searle (South Africa), Rui Assubuji (Mozambique), and Angèle Etoundi (Cameroon). The latter presented a series of four photos honoring the woman for whom we know her commitment.

The works of Soly Cissé, sponsor of the Dakar stopover, with their fanatical character, take you into an impressive imaginary world.

The famous Congolese Le Cheri Samba faces the Ivorian Ouattara Watts : a conversation begins between two different worlds, one abstract, the other figurative, but very complementary, with a disconcerting maturity.

In the center is an installation by Burkinabe artist Siriki Ky «Africa faces her fate».This is without doubt the one that touched me the most. The artist's telling and poignant staging shows us a distressing image of Africa, rich though it is, begging from Western institutions. When will people's consciences wake up? That's the question.

Abdoulaye Konaté, a Malian artist, did textile paintings that evoked his roots and his Manding culture, and denounced the ills of Africa and the world.

William Kentrigue, for his part, touches us with his animated films about today's world, both political and poetic.

Viyé Diba, an artist born in Senegal, uses local materials like cotton and fabrics, but also recycled materials, plastic canvas, rope, etc. These works raise questions about consumerism, globalization, and the environment.

Another engaged artist is Moroccan Mohamed Melehi, with his abstract paintings in a colorful modern style. He wanted to raise awareness about climate change and its consequences.

One small downside !

I couldn't visit the exhibition of the museum Théodore Monod for lack of time, but that's just a temporary reprieve.

In my opinion, the two exhibitions had to be in the same place, as the idea was to pass the baton on to the younger generation to create more interaction and links.

For these transmissions to take place, sharing has to be effective by making contact with more local artists and sharing experiences. I'd like to see practical workshops organized alongside the academic roundtables, to get the country's cultural players much more involved, and to encourage the sharing of experiences. For me, the exhibition should have been at the same place because the idea was to pass the baton on to the younger generation to create more interaction and links.

To make those interactions happen, it is necessary to share a reality by making contact with more local artists and sharing experiences. I'd have liked to see practical workshops organized alongside the academic roundtables, to get the country's cultural players much more involved and reach out to the general public.

A less intellectual approach to this kind of event would be a good way of breaking away from the usual “inward-looking” approach and making it more popular.

If the declared aim is for the general public to discover these works, as is done in Europe in museums and exhibitions, another, less elitist approach is needed to arouse interest: get young people, schools and associations involved, give priority to local media, develop word-of-mouth, involve all local artists in this kind of project from the outset, and so on.

Until now, the Fenkk Book exhibition has enjoyed little visibility, which is a shame, especially given the diversity of the artists present.

Passing the baton with greater involvement of local cultural players would be more beneficial by creating more interaction with this exhibition; local players need to be better integrated and involved in projects of this scale!

The transmission dimension of the more experienced artists' age and international recognition should enable them to pass on the torch to the new generation and also contribute to developing a real art market in Africa itself!

As this is the first to be repeated, they'll be able to make up for it in the next stages, I hope. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, I've noticed a greater involvement of local players.

To sum up; here's a great project that's coming to fruition, to be applauded and renewed!

Ouattara Watts

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