Following the success of its two earlier seminars in Dakar (2003) and Addis Ababa (2006), AICA now has plans for a third, in Cape Town in November 2007. It will be organised with the support of the Visual Arts Network South Africa (VANSA) and Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town.
The two earlier seminars provided an opportunity for comparing and evaluating different cultural and economical contexts in Africa, in terms of institutions, structures and training. The differences that can be discerned between the situations in various parts of Africa are doubtless due, in part, to critical and art historical factors, but they are not invariably determined by the colonial past, or by the widely divergent policies that individual countries have adopted since independence.
Even if there seem to be more universities and museums in Commonwealth countries than in the former French colonies, Ivory Coast, for example, boasts a good university and a notable art school, whilst Senegal, which has nothing to compare with either of these, can still be proud of having its own Biennial. Nigeria has an exceptionally broad range of institutions, on account of its size and economic potential, but remains quite closed to the outside world, because of the particular nature of its regime. In the meantime, too many countries in Africa, such as Ethiopia, can only depend on individual initiatives - and the same goes for Benin, Congo and Kenya, for example.
The Diaspora has contributed greatly to the fact that African artists are now prized in the West and welcomed at many biennials and leading international exhibitions in, notably, France, Britain, Germany (Documenta), Italy (the Venice Biennale) and the United States. This, in turn, has stimulated the creation of comparable events on the African continent, from the now defunct Johannesburg Biennial to the Biennials in Cairo and Alexandria, the Dakar Biennial and the annual ‘Meetings of African Photography’, in Bamako.
The fact that South Africa and Angola are now planning to organise biennial-type events is, of course, very encouraging, though it does not offer a long-term alternative to the need to establish permanent structures, capable of reinforcing the presence and viability of contemporary visual arts throughout the region. An organisation such as AICA can make an important contribution, by helping to fashion the tools that are needed to identify, and analyse, possible solutions to a whole range of issues, such as changes in the prevailing artistic criteria, the causes and effects of globalism, and the specific nature of the variety of different contexts in which art is taught, created and shown.
Consequently, this seminar will focus on the need for professionals from different countries in the region to meet and exchange experiences, and to engage in critical discussion with colleagues from other parts of the world.
Nowadays, we can see that more and more art historians and art critics are focusing their researches on the new artistic scenes in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and asking, in particular, what role museums and biennials can play, and who benefits from their activities.
The seminar will then be organised over three days, as follows ;
Thursday 8 November Morning (9 a.m. / 2 p.m.) Session 1 : A look at the countries in Southern Africa, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola, with their different histories, current differences and existing structures and institutions, followed by an attempt to evaluate these histories and differences in objective terms. Moderator : Andrew Lamprecht (South Africa) Speakers : Pip Curling (Zimbabwe), Gabi Ngcobo (South Africa), William Miko (Zambia), Joseph Madisia. (Namibia), Neo Matome (Botswana), Harun Harun (Mozambique).
Afternoon : visits (private galleries, Goodman Gallery)
Friday 9 November Morning (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Session 2 : An examination of the kind of art training that is available in these countries and of the infrastructure for providing this, including museums, art centres, galleries, agencies, magazines and the educational system, in general ; together with an assessment of the ways in which choices and decisions are made, or impeded, and vary from one situation to another. Moderator : Henry Meyric Hughes (UK) Speakers : Bassam El Baroni (Egypt), Carol Brown (South Africa), Raphael Chikukwa (Zimbabwe), Tineke Reijnders (Netherlands), Thembinkosi Goniwe (South Africa)
Afternoon : Open Session with the students of Michaelis School of Fine Art
Saturday 10 November Morning (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Session 3 : A discussion of national and international events, including biennials and other large-scale exhibitions and, in particular, of the cutting edge of mediation, recognition, Diaspora or resettlement and of how to deal with these realities. Moderator : Yacouba Konaté (Ivory Coast) Speakers : Fernando Alvim (Angola), Sue Williamson (South Africa), Ramon Tio Bellido (France), Khwezi Gule (South Africa), Abdellah Karroum (Marocco), Barbara Murray (Zimbabwe/ UK).
Afternoon : visits (Iziko, museums of Cape Town)