The (Finnish) ARS 11 exhibition investigates Africa in contemporary art. In addition to artists living in Africa, the show also features others who live outside the continent, artists of African descent as well as Western artists who address African issues in their work. The exhibition features some 300 works by a total of 30 artists. The Kiasma Theatre also has a programme of ARS events and performances. The themes of the exhibition, such as migration, environmental problems and urban life are global, issues that affect us all. At best ARS 11 can produce new understanding and also provide background information on the situation in today’s Africa. The exhibition will extend the idea of what Africa, contemporary art and African contemporary art are today.

I don’t want to sound too obsessed about this, but the chosen ‘young’ African artists again really are the same ones you’ll have encountered at any recent major Africa-themed exhibition around the world (I’m thinking for example of those in the U.K., Brazil and Germany). Surely there is more than this pool of, say, ten young artists? Some curators are getting lazy.

On the other hand, of the following artists also present we haven’t seen much yet: Baaba Jakeh Chande (in the picture above) whose “performances in particular are influenced by change, the contrasts and similarities he encounters in the two lifestyles he has, Zambian and Finnish”, and Senegalese born Samba Fall (painting below), so we might take that northbound train after all.

The exhibition runs until November 27.

— Tom Devriendt

Further Reading