AKAA (Also Known As Africa) – 1st art fair devoted to contemporary art and design from Africa in France – was held in Paris, from November the 11th, to the 13th. It represented a great opportunity for African Artists for Development (AAD) to share its vision and projects.
Founded and managed by Victoria Mann, AKAA welcomed more than 15 000 visitors over the weekend, illustrating the great success of this first edition. About thirty galleries from eleven countries exhibited 123 artists – photographers, painters, visual artists &, and ceramists- from Africa and elsewhere. All depicted a multifaceted and unbounded Africa.
The AAD team was gathered in order to offer a total immersion in the project « Refugees on the Move » and its philosophy based on the use of dance as a tool for social and cultural mediation, within refugee camps in sub-Saharan Africa. Through refugees’ words, photographs taken by Teddy Mazina (Burundian photojournalist) and Elodie Grégoire (French photographer), and videos filmed in the field, we were willing to show the power of art in the making of development projects.
On the second day of the fair, the Burkinabe choreographer Salia Sanou and his dancers Asha Thomas and Ousséni Dabare honoured AKAA with a performance. They presented fragments of his contemporary dance show “Du Désir d’Horizons” which tells his story and those of the refugees he met inside the camps in Burkina Faso, while working on our project “Refugees on the Move”.
Over the weekend, little ones and grown-ups were able to (re)discover the traveling exhibition Lumières d’Afrique through its movie of the same name, in which 54 renowned artists -one for each African state- present a work of art drawing inspiration from the theme: “Lights of Africa”.
AKAA was also a place for artistic crushes.
Among them, to name but a few:
-Ivoirian Joana Choumali and her photographic work on the practice of scarification. The photographer looked into the Hââbrés, the last generation of people bearing the marks of a dying tradition on their faces. She captured them in all their dignity and pride through a series of stunning studio portraits.
-Ethiopian graphic designer Girma Berta. Aged 26, this young multidisciplinary artist won the 2016 Getty Images Instagram grant. His images, in the square format dear to Instagram, are a mix of trimmed street photographs taken by a smartphone in Addis-Ababa, applied to warm-colored digital backgrounds.
-French-Beninese ceramist King Houndekpinkou, who draws his inspiration from diverse sources such as Japan and Bizen pottery, but also animist culture. His pieces are the result of a complex work, which speaks for itself to retransmit the close tie of the artist to clay; his emotions, his warmth, his look upon the world and his spirituality.
-Visual artist and designer Evans Mbugua, and photographer, painter and visual artist Saidou Dicko. Together, they imagined the booth created for the African house of tea Cape and Cape, as a tribute to African photography studios. Cape and Cape initials are repeated infinitely and blend together to plunge us into an olfactory universe of tea and rooibos. One could just sit on their tools and let himself be bewitched by the flavours of a colourful, dynamic, urban and contemporary Africa.
AKAA in the press:
AKAA : toute l’Afrique à la République – Le Point
AKAA: l’art contemporain d’une Afrique sans frontières – RFI