DYNAMIC AFRICA

Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.



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Posts tagged "diaspora"

Test Shots by Rog Walker.

Test Shots is an ongoing series of portraits taken in the studio with photography couple Rog and Bee Walker. Each photograph, taken mostly of their close friends and fellow creatives, is as striking as it is simple.

Opting for a sombre and dark background, coupled with poised and pensive subjects, Walker’s shots manage to maximize on the simplicity of the traditional portrait style by making use of a medium format camera that provides an image quality which, despite the powerful stillness of each individual, vividly brings the details of each photograph to life. This brings out both a sense of strength and vulnerability in each picture, alluding to the intimate two-way dialog between subject and photographer.

"This is the most organic method of communication I have. Photography is the way I speak…It doesn’t get more personal than another human, and that’s what I’m looking to capture, that connection between humanity." - Rog Walker

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GLOBAL EVENTS LISTINGS - ART & FILM: July 18th, 2014.

FRANCE: Maroc, couleur désert (Morocco, desert colour).

Consisting of over 100 rugs, blankets and cushions woven by the Aït Khebbach - a semi-nomadic Amazigh (Berber) people living along the border with Algeria, the exhibition highlights the cultural and personal significance of these woven pieces, through multimedia arts such as film, photography and music, and the women who create them.

Each life-size photograph taken by Serge Anton reveals not only the artistic tapestry of each textile, but places the woman responsible for its creation in front of her work as a way to give credit where credit is due.

Musée Bargoin, Clermont-Ferrand.
30 April - 25 August 2014.

FRANCE: Yinka Shonibare - “Egg Fight”.

Fondation Blachère is presenting a solo exhibition and new light installation by Yinka Shonibare MBE RA. The exhibition takes its cue from Shonibare’s installation Egg Fight (2009) recently acquired by Fondation Blachère.

Inspired by Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver Travels, the piece is a satirical staging of the divisions between Protestants and Catholics through the argument over which end of a boiled egg should be broken, the large or small end. This work reflects Shonibare’s interest in addressing conflicting ideologies observed in culture, politics and society.

Fondation Blachère, Apt, France.
23rd May - 20th Sept. 2014.

ENGLAND: Yinka Shonibare at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2014.

See some of Shonibare’s work at the Royal Academy of Arts in London as part of their “Summer Exhibition”.

Royal Academy of Arts, London.
9 June - 17 August.

SOUTH AFRICA: “21 Icons” photography exhibit opening June 16th at MOAD.

Mercedes-Benz presents ‘21 Icons – Portrait of a Nation’ opening at the Museum of African Design in the Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg, on Youth Day, 16 June. The exhibition runs to 17 August and features the work of award-winning photographer Adrian Steirn who, for several years, has photographed some of South Africa’s most inspiring icons.

MOAD, Johannesburg.
16 June – 17 August.

USA: “Tête de Femme” by Mickalene Thomas.

Tête de Femme, a new body of work by artist Mickalene Thomas, explores the intricacies of female beauty through painting and collage, focusing on how artifice serves both to mask and reveal the individual essence of her subjects.

Lehmann Maupin, New York.
June 26 – August 8, 2014.

GERMANY: “Giving Contours to Shadows”.

The art and research project Giving Contours to Shadows takes its cue from the Glissantian concept that history, a “functional fantasy of the West“, cannot be left in the hands of historians only. In that sense, the project looks at ways, by which artists, curators and thinkers relate to their epoch, to times past and to the drawing of prospective trajectories, thus weaving alternatives to established narratives – from embodiment practices to possibilities of pre-writing of History.

Unfolding into a group exhibition at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein and SAVVY Contemporary and a performance program at Maxim Gorki Theatre and Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, a roundtable program as well as a series of satellite projects in Marrakech, Nairobi, Dakar, Lagos and Johannesburg, Giving Contours to Shadows reflects on philosophical, socio-cultural and historical aspects of global interest.

Look out for:

September 2014 Kër Thiossane, Dakar
October 2014 Video Art Network / CCA, Lagos
November 2014 Parking Gallery / VANSA, Johannesburg

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin.
May 24 – July 27, 2014.

USA: Trenton Doyle Hancock: “Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing”.

A new and exciting exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston features work from American artist Trenton Doyle Hancock amassed over a period of two decades, from 1984 to 2014, chronicling the foundation of the artist’s prolific career. Beginning with his childhood, the exhibition provides a unique glimpse into the evolution of Hancock’s idiosyncratic vision.

'Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing is the first in-depth examination of Hancock’s extensive body of drawings, collages, and works on paper. The exhibition features more than two hundred works of art as well as a collection of the artist’s notebooks, sketchbooks, and studies, many showing the preparation for several public commissions.

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas.
April 27 – August 3, 2014.

ENGLAND: “Return of the Rudeboy” Exhibition.

This summer, London’s Somerset House is highlighting one of Jamaica’s most influential exports on British fashion, music and style - the Rudeboy.

Birthed on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, the Rudeboy (or Rudie) came to represent the young rebels who wore distinctively sharp sartorial styles such as Mohair suits, thin ties and pork pie hats. Much of their identity was rooted in aesthetics but their style was also closely connected to the music movements of the time, notably American Jazz and R&B musicians.

Curated by prolific photographer and filmmaker for music’s most wanted Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry favourite creative director Harris Elliott, this interactive exhibition focuses on and highlights the origins of Rudeboy culture in Jamaica, as well as its presence in the United Kingdom through various subcultures, through a series of portraits, installations and set pieces.

Somerset House, London.
13 June – 25 August 2014.

USA: Free Outdoor Screening of Wattstax.

A free outdoor screening of the legendary documentary that chronicles the events and social climate surrounding the 1972 Wattstax day-long concert, hosted by BAM.

Putnam Triangle Plaza, 22 Putnam Ave, Brooklyn, NY.
22 July at 8pm.

USA: “Drawing On Things” with Shantell Martin.

Inspired and led by Shantell Martin, adult workshop participants will bring their own objects to adorn with elaborate, original drawings! BYO blank canvas (any white object — clothing, curtains, tote bags, shoes, lampshades, whatever!) and drawing supplies will be provided. Open bar.

MoCADA, Brooklyn, NY.
July 2014 at
6:30 am (I think they meant pm) - 8:30 pm.

USA: 2014 AFF SUMMER SERIES, New York.

Lots of great movies to be seen all summer long thanks to the folks a AFF. Join them at various venues in NYC parks to get your fill!

Various parks, New York City,
July 7th - September 7th, 2014.

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DOCUMENTARY: “The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.”

In a world where segregation was back both by laws and social attitudes, it’s no surprise that the mainstream press in the United States served as a reflection of these ills.

Knowing firsthand the impact of words and images as weapons against their welfare, black people in the United States knew that left in the hands of racist publications, their representation, history, culture and identities would forever be at stake. Starting with communities and individuals of free black people in the 1800s, to the birth of more contemporary publications like Ebony, the power of images and the written word of black people by black people, and in the interests of black people, has always been an act of self-preservation.

This documentary brings to light a powerful and engaging account of American history that has been virtually forgotten: the story of the pioneering black newspapermen and women who gave voice to black America. 

Watch it here.

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NEW MUSIC: Y’AKOTO - Perfect Timing.

With a new album a little over a month away from release, German-Ghanaian singer Y’akoto (nee Jennifer Yaa Akoto Kieck) has given us our first taste of her sophomore effort Moody Blues with the single and accompanying video for her song ‘Perfect Timing’.

Coated with a little bit of modern jazz, a soulful blues-y essence and charming pop catchy-ness, the uber cute Y’akoto takes us on a mini-tour of Accra atop her road bike (BMX riders are becoming synonymous with the city), followed by a band of stylishly dressed followers as she relays a story of a lost opportunity for love, lots of bad luck and how she’s learned to let go.

NEW MUSIC: SZA - Julia / (Tender).

Spotted SZA wearing a Bògòlanfini print jacket in this video, amongst other beautiful prints, patterns and fabulous bold jewelry.

NEW MUSIC: Purple Ferdinand - Wasn’t Taught Love.

British singer Purple Ferdinand is back with a brand new EP that she’s currently offering for free on her websiteWasn’t Taught Love is the latest video release from her Dragonfly EP, having released Birdsand Speak True- each being raw and highly emotional lullaby-like songs about love and heartache. It’s perhaps one of the most cohesive and striking EPs I’ve come across in a long time.

NEW MUSIC: LOLAWOLF - Summertime.

LOLAWOLF, the band fronted by Zoë Kravitz and signed to Julian Casablancas’ label Cult Records, released the video for their Summertime single.

Taken off their five song debut EP that’s a mix of electro-pop with subtle R&B hints, the song features what looks like 80s or early 90s visuals of a trio of young skaters rolling around NYC. 

NEW MUSIC: Talib Kweli ft Res - Whats Real.

Great vibes, a little different to what we’re used to from Talib but great nonetheless. Definitely a summer soundtrack anthem.

Speakers For The Dead: Documentary about the original black settlers of Priceville, Ontario Canada.

When Irish settlers first moved to the area now known as Priceville in Ontario Canada, to their surprise, they found a community of black people already living there.

This documentary reveals some of the hidden history of black people in Canada.

In the 1930s in rural Ontario, a farmer buried the tombstones of a black cemetery to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery, but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss.

Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments—including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate—add to the film’s emotional intensity.

By Jennifer Holness, & David Sutherland, 2000

Brazilian Football, Jorge Ben and the Story of “Fio Maravilha”.

How I came to know of this somewhat lesser known iconic moment in Brazilian football history is a story that’s as short, sweet and somewhat romantic as the event itself. 

Anyone that knows me knows that ever since discovering his music, I’ve had a serious love affair with Jorge Ben that I see no end to. Nestled amongst his bigger and better known songs such as Taj Mahal (sampled illegally by Rod Stewart), Mas, Que Nada! (covered famously by Sergio Mendes), Pais Tropical (a tribute to his native Brazil) and his upbeat and catchy Take It Easy My Brother Charles that sees him singing partially in English, are a range of other songs that highlight and pay tribute to Afro-Brazilian legends.

There’s Xica Da Silva, the iconic story of an African and Portuguese Brazilian woman who, despite being born into enslavement, was able to accumulate wealth, power and influence in 18th century Brazilian society. The song appeared of Ben’s equally iconic África Brasil album. Then, there’s his dedication to another African victim of enslavement in Brazil, Zumbi dos Palmares who was the last of the leaders of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a settlement set up by and for fugitive enslaved men, women and children, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil. Both songs are brilliant tributes and Ben’s lyrical storytelling style brings these portions of history to life with a richness that makes them unforgettable.

However, the song that to me shows the brilliance of Jorge Ben’s musical and songwriting capabilities comes in the form of his 1972-penned ode to João Batista de Sales, otherwise known as Fio Maravilha. The song, barely two minutes in length, captures the most important moment in the short-lived football career of De Sales.

Written before the release of África Brasil in 1976, the song idealizes a friendly game between Flamengo, De Sales’ team, and Benfica in the famous Maracanã stadium that was attended by Jorge Ben.  Omitted from Flamengo’s starting lineup by coach Mário Zagallo, De Sales was put on the field after chants from the crowd demanded he play. By the second half, the game was still at 0-0, but close to the 80th minute, De Sales came through for the Flamengo’s scoring the only goal of the game (one that Jorge Ben describes as ‘celestial’) that ended in a 1-0 victory for his team. To Jorge Ben, this victory went beyond the personal. It was another victory for Black Brazil.

Since then, De Sales has played for teams in both Brazil and the United States where he currently resides and coaches football. The song has ensured that that legendary feat by De Sales will never be forgotten as it remains a favourite by fans of Jorge Ben, De Sales and the Flamengo football club.

Listen to the original, a live version, and a version performed with Gilberto Gil.

Zwarte Piet: A Tradition of Blackface in The Netherlands.

The Netherlands are one step closer to the possibility of winning the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup. Continuing with our posts related to the World Cup and learning more about the African diaspora, we decided to look at one of the country’s not-so-great cultural traditions.

The Netherlands is a country popularly known for its tulips and windmills, it’s legalization of marijuana and…for brutally colonising South Africa. But during the month of December when good cheer is supposed to be spread by all, a racist tradition dating back to the late 1800s rears its ugly head.

In a book published in 1850 and written by Jan Schenkman, Sint Nikolaas en zijn Knecht (“Saint Nicholas and his Servant”), the foundation of a Christmas tradition where the Dutch paint their faces black, emphasize their often non-existent lips with red lipstick, wear kinky-textured wigs and Renaissance period attire, was birthed through a character known as ‘Zwarte Piet’. Although not named in Schenkman’s book, the name ‘Pieter’ would not appear in print until the publication of the 1891 book Het Feest van Sinterklaas, the Amsterdam-based primary school teacher depicted Saint Nicholas’ ‘servant’ as a young page with dark skin and wearing clothes typically associated with Moors at the time. The book stayed in print for a hundred years, until 1950.

This Dutch folklore character was portrayed as a ‘helper’ of Sinterklaas (Santa Claus), also known as Saint Nicholas. According to some depictions in medieval European folklore, Saint Nicholas “is sometimes presented as taming a chained devil, who may or may not be black”, and who some allude to being changed to represent a Moor, essentially Zwarte Piet, in post 19th century Germanic European folk literature.  Part of this change came about as both teachers and clergymen became concerned with the way Sinterklaas, who was essentially a saint, was being portrayed. Folklore often depicted Saint Nicholas as some sort of a boogeyman who scolded bad children and made them fearful of him. Sinterklaas had more terrifying qualities than good ones, most of which were later transferred to Zwarte Piet.

Thus, what some say began as a ‘black devil’ was later transformed into a more human form, at the same time that it dehumanized and demonized the very people it portrayed.

As the years wore on, Zwarte Piet became more and more of a docile and childlike character who was not only Santa’s helper, but a ‘friend’ to young children. Perhaps one can say that the transformation of Zwarte Piet’s characteristics also mirrored the changing attitudes of this part of Europe to black people and Africa(ns). Where during the height of colonisation, black people were portrayed as savages and animals to be tamed, by the early 20th century, European colonists began to adopt patronising attitudes towards Africa, portraying Africans as child-like and in need of saving through the adoption of Western culture. The relationship between Saint Nicholas and Zwarte Piet seems to be a clear demonstration of this - the white god-like saviour rearing the black infant-like individual who will forever be in servitude to their false father-figure.

I’m not entirely sure when the culture of blackface in line with Zwarte Piet came about but it seems to have taken flight in the early 20th century as Piet became a much more ‘docile’ character to the Dutch public. With this popularity came the twisted celebration of European racism, one that many Dutch seem to think is harmless. According to a 2013 survey, 92% of the Dutch public don’t perceive Zwarte Piet as racist or associate him with slavery, and 91% are opposed to altering the character’s appearance.

With immigration increasing in the Netherlands, and as more and more people pay attention to this cultural ‘celebration’, there have been a number of anti-Zwarte Piet protests.

The largest Sinterklaas celebration in Western Canada, in New Westminster, British Columbia, due to take place in December 2011, was cancelled for the first time since 1985 following a debate over the inclusion of Zwarte Piet in the festivities.

In 2011, legislators in the former Dutch colony of Suriname stated that government-sanctioned celebrations involving Zwarte Piet were considered an insult to the “black part of Suriname’s community.” Demonstrators in Amsterdam held an anti-Zwarte Piet protest in 2013 on the weekend of the city’s Sinterklaas celebration in November. And now, in 2014, something that’s been a long time coming has finally happened. An Amsterdam court has ruled that the traditional Dutch figure Black Pete is offensive due to its role in continuing stereotypes of black people. 

NEW MUSIC: Tunde Olaniran - Critical.

Nigerian-American singer Tunde Olaniran's Critical music video is a work of (performance) art.

With direction from Kevin Eckert, Olaniran takes us on a multimedia and multiple layered visual journey that sees the singer play with shadows, various light hues, illustration, animation, and fashion.

Out now, Critical is a minimal drum beat-laden tune with a catchy hook and beautiful raw emotional backbone. And is that line a Kate Bush reference? Love it.

lostinurbanism:

Alain Le Garsmeur, Georgia (1983)

Enslaved Africans Were the First to Celebrate Ramadan in the United States.

In line with the start of Ramadan this year, its important to note how the history of Islam in America is inextricably linked with the arrival of enslaved Africans. Whilst some may think the second-most practiced faith in the United States does not have a long-standing history in the country, social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or “as many as 600,000 to 1.2 million,” slaves in antebellum America were Muslims. Forty-six percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims.” 

The failure to not recognize this fact is not only an ignorant viewpoint that erases both the history of early African-American presence and Islam in the US, but also sheds light on racist historical perspectives that exist both in American and Muslim societies.

With many of these individuals coming from communities throughout the Western coast of Africa, many sought to keep their faith intact as best they could, including the observation of Ramadan. Due to the harsh conditions of slavery, this was not always easily done and with time, many traditions were lost through the brutality of the system of slavery that prevented or outlawed the passing on of many significant cultural practices that were brought to the United States through enslaved Africans.

(source)

NEW MUSIC: Marian Mareba - September.

This song by Ethiopian-American singer Marian Mareba is packed full of many of the multiple genres of music that influence her folk/soul/pop/R&B sound.

The Alabama-born singer-songwriter recently released an amazing 10-track EP, Room for Living, available for streaming and downloading on Soundcloud. Her crystal clear voice and eclectic sound make for the perfect blend of soul-folk music.