By Nii B. Andrews
The 2nd edition of Also Known As Africa (AKAA) ended in Paris just over a week ago, last Sunday.
The location was the Carreau du Temple a former indoor market.
A total of 150 artists exhibited their works; there were 38 galleries from 28 countries- 22 from Africa.
All told, this summer has seen a heightened profile for contemporary African art in Paris.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton held exhibitions on South African artists and Jean Pigozzi’s collection of art from the continent.
Musée Dapper presented a show on Soly Cissé, the Senegalese multimedia artist.
Currently, Fondation Cartier has an exhibition on the late Malian photographer Malick Sidibé (until 28 February).
“Fundamentally, the African scene has a different sensuality and the artists have a different way of perceiving the world, bringing freshness with what they want to say and prove,” says Victoria Mann, AKAA’s founder and director.
AKAA should not turn out to be one those initiatives that come and go with the wind.
All of these platforms are indispensable for introducing to an international audience new emerging contemporary voices from the continent, and a deeper understanding of African narratives.
Africa has a lot of excellent art and certainly, Europe and America have a lot of money; but the overriding concern should be taste and connoisseurship.
The difficult question is if West African countries themselves are doing enough to showcase and market the tremendous pool of homegrown talent.
When it comes to an understanding of the powerful narratives expounded by the indigenous artists, that is an even more vexed question fraught with angst and myriad deflecting strategies – especially from the West African/Ghanaian middle class.
This demographic still needs to work urgently on its erudition and social conscience.