Pierre Chrisophe Gam, The Kingdom of Taali M, 2013
The exhibition enquired about design and art’s effectiveness to portray social, political, economical and technological issues that are changing Africa’s situation. Through the conception of an everyday object, conscious design aims to create a new and different experience raising the awareness of the consumer and changing his everyday life. This perspective in design is an initiative from a new generation of freethinkers fighting for the recognition of Africa as a continent offering original proposals combined with heritage; after years of submission, the new generation celebrates its liberation from colonialism’s burden via the exploration of contemporary artistic expression. The new generation has forged a new link with technology immersing themselves into the 21st century’s flow and what this has to offer. Combining efficacy, tradition and technology, the project shows Africa’s different approaches to embrace the digital era and to introduce design in African’s lifestyles. This original angle created a new type of narrative and developed original conceptions in a continent where 650 million mobile phones are used everyday – more consumers than in Europe or the United States. The media’s boom is a plausible result of this phenomenon, revealing Africa’s rebirth, its up and coming economic and political status.
Malick Sidibe, Happy Club, Nuit de Noel, 1963
Museography has played a tremendous role in the exhibition as it has demonstrated to the public Africa’s new concerns about building and encouraging dialogue. The project was divided into 4 sections. The first one, called Prologue, invites the spectator to question Africa’s preconceptions. What is Africa? or What is African design? were part of the analytical exercise. In this section, artists revisited and debated African design, its place in culture and whether or not African design actually exists. The subsequent section I and we, showcased African’s uniqueness through their aesthetic codes and forms, particularly in fashion and technology. Nowadays, platforms such as blogs and Youtube are powerful tools of expression allowing users to communicate and to reach unforeseen territories. Although media critics denounce the capacity to shape and standardize, African designers and artists apprehend forms and transform them to make them their own. Space and Object, displayed design’s interaction with consumers and how it can change the people’s lives in African cities. The last chapter, Origin and Future, centered around globalization and how the latter is affecting and transforming the continent’s life and history. The final hall was a space inviting the audience to pose questions and to relocate Africa’s position in our collective imagination.
Mario Macilau, Alito, The Guy with Style, 2013
“Making Africa – A Contemporary Continent of Design” sheds light on the African “new wave” of designers who are committed to the political context and to the thriving of Africa. New technologies help African’s “digital natives” to dialogue with the rest of the world transforming perspectives and abolishing misconceptions.
For instance, The Uncanny, a photography serie by the Belgian photographer Leonard Pongo, unveils the everyday life of a group of Congolese people living in the outskirts of the city.