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AKAA: "This cross look between the African continent and the rest of the world"


Also Known As Africa (AKAA) is more than a fair. This is the promise of a unique dialogue with the African continent through contemporary art. 45 galleries from 19 countries feature African artists and artists inspired by Africa. Interview...

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"Puzzle" (detail) by Kenyan artist Dickens Otieno. Tapestry from aluminum cans and coffee capsules. 210 x 161.5 cm. . Presented at AKAA by the Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi. © Siegfried Forster / RFI

Also Known As Africa (AKAA) is more than a fair. This is the promise of a unique dialogue with the African continent through contemporary art. 45 galleries from 19 countries feature African artists and artists inspired by Africa. Interview with Victoria Mann, the founder and artistic director of this event which opens this Saturday, November 9th its 4th edition at the Carreau du Temple, in Paris.

RFI: Three years after the creation of this fair dedicated to African contemporary art and inspired by Africa, what is today the role and the rank of AKAA ?

Victoria Mann : AKAA has become the rendezvous for contemporary African art in Paris for enthusiasts, collectors, artists, galleries. It is a place of exchange, meetings, business, and we are very proud of the selection presented this year.

Of the 45 galleries present, 18 come from Africa, seven galleries more than the previous year. What does this mean to us about the 2019 edition ?

It is extremely important. AKAA, and in a more global way the contemporary African market, can not be done without this dialogue, without this crossed glance between the local actors on the African continent and the rest of the world. Today, at AKAA, with these African galleries that invest, who come from afar, who bring their artists to Paris, the international capital of the art world, we can see that there is a real work for the diffusion, for the meeting, for the discovery - because we are a fair of discoveries for the Parisian public.

Today, you find yourself surrounded by other fairs investing African art : Fiac , Paris Photo , 1:54 , Parcours des mondes . Fairs that have developed a lot in recent years by expanding their offer. Your decision to focus only on contemporary African art or inspired by Africa while staying in Paris may it be too limited for the world and the current market ?

Indeed, there are fairs that develop very quickly and create like "chains" of fairs. I find that very interesting. We have plenty of development ideas for other types of events and other types of projects elsewhere. But, I would like to take the time to stabilize Paris, to create a fair that is really anchored in Paris, financially and economically strong. Every year, we become more and more stable. We are a small team. I carry all this on my shoulders, I do not have big groups behind me who finance, as it is the case with the Fiac or Paris Photo. All these ideas of development, we have them in mind, they will be done, but I can not go faster than our own music.

AKAA Slide 2019

  • Ocom Adonias, 30, "Saint Galilaya", 100 x 100 cm. The Ugandan artist presents at AKAA one of his drawings / paintings made on newsprint, presented at the Afriart Gallery in Kampala.
    © Siegfried Forster / RFI

  • Two photos from the series "Pluto" by David Uzochukwu, an artist of Austro-Nigerian origin, about the creativity of Nigerian youth. Presented at AKAA by Number 8 Gallery, Belgium.
    © Siegfried Forster / RFI

  • The artist Francisco Vidal, 41, lives and works between Lisbon and Luanda. For his carte blanche at AKAA, he presents 50 portraits of artists and "Contemporary Landscapes".
    © Siegfried Forster / RFI

  • Osi Audu, born in 1959 in Nigeria: "Self-Portrait after Gelede Headdress" (2018). Presented at AKAA by Sakhile & Me Gallery, Frankfurt / Main.
    © Siegfried Forster / RFI

  • The South African artist Morné Visagie, 30, at AKAA, in front of "Orlando", a work created from recycled material.
    © Siegfried Forster / RFI

Among the discoveries to be made this year at AKAA, could you give us two examples?

Here, for example, at AKAA Underground, we are in the world of Francisco Vidal, an artist who lives and works between Lisbon and Luanda. This is one of the projects that is very important to me. It started with a conversation with the artist in a cafe. When I proposed a carte blanche to Francisco, he took it very literally, because he invested the space from floor to ceiling. He painted 60 portraits of artists present at AKAA. Through his work, he has created an artistic and social link between artists and the public.

There is also the Carole Kvasnevski gallery stand with the project of the great South African photographer Zanele Muholi and her collective. His project is the dissemination of the artists of his collective to be in the exchange with the younger generations of artists in South Africa. Three of the artists she coache came with her here to AKAA to reinterpret her corpus. It's a project that makes me vibrate.

Read also: Paris Photo: Ming Smith, a legend of African-American photography

► Watch video : African American artist Kehinde Wiley: a word, a gesture, a silence

AKAA, Also Known As Africa, from November 9 to 11, 2019, at Carreau du Temple, Paris

Source: rfi

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