PRESS RELEASE... d 01 TEL 0033(0) BODY TALK FEMINISM, SEXUALITY & THE BODY d October 30, 2015 January 17, 2016 In Body Talk, six artists, all from Africa, and all marked

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PRESS RELEASE... d 01 TEL 0033(0) BODY TALK FEMINISM, SEXUALITY & THE BODY d October 30, 2015 January 17, 2016 In Body Talk, six artists, all from Africa, and all marked by the shared history of the continent, by its wounds and its commitments, take a look at feminism, sexuality, and the body. Body Talk is the rising voice of a generation! 1... Opening: Thursday 29 October, 7pm & Frac in Live : Performance of Miriam Syowia Kyambi... ACCESS Free admission Tuesday to Friday: 27pm & Saturday & Sunday: 11am7pm The exhibition stays open Bank Holidays Group visits in English on request Le Frac Lorraine bénéficie du soutien du Conseil Régional de Lorraine et du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication Drac Lorraine.... This is not the first time that 49 Nord 6 Est reflects on women s status and identity. The plurality of feminisms around the world and their protean struggle has always been at the heart of its concerns. It is therefore only natural that its interest has turned toward the African art scene. Koyo Kouoh, director of the Raw Material Company in Dakar and a key figure in the new artistic and critical landscape in Africa, has been invited to develop an exhibition: Body Talk. Body Talk opens our eyes to contemporary ways of looking at the world informed by the other i.e. African feminism, such as reappropriation of the body by subverting the idea of woman as sex object; embodiment of historical figures, like the Black Venus or the Nigerian woman activist Funmilayo Kuti; performative transformation that bridges tradition and modernity In order to counteract the invisibility of black women in France, even while they struggle for recognition with increasing vigor, and to restore to the black body its rightful place, we have designed a committed program of performances, talks, and meetings that accompany this exhibition. ARTISTS: Zoulikha Bouabdellah (Born in 1977 in Moscow, Russia. Lives in Casablanca) Marcia Kure (Born in 1970 in Kano, Nigeria. Lives in Princeton, NJ) Miriam Syowia Kyambi (Born in 1979 in Nairobi, Kenya, where she lives) Valérie Oka (Born in 1967 in Abidjan, Côte d Ivoire, where she lives) Tracey Rose (Born in 1974 in Durban, Afrique du Sud, where she lives) Billie Zangewa (Born in 1973 in Blantyre, Malawi. Lives in Johannesburg) CURATOR: Koyo Kouoh, assisted by Eva Barois De Caevel (RAW Material Company, Dakar) Exhibition initiated by WIELS, Brussels (BE) in coproduction with 49 Nord 6 Est, Metz (FR) & Lunds konsthall, Lund (SE) 1 Billie Zangewa, The Rebirth of the Black Venus, Private Collection. RELATIONS WITH PRESS CLAUDINE COLIN COMMUNICATION / TÉL. : 0033 (0) / AVRIL BOISNEAULT d 02 A word from the curator 1 In The Body Politic: Differences, Gender, Sexuality 1 Okwui Enwezor and Chika OkekeAgulu evoke the gathering of Igbo Women in 1929 in the city of Aba, in Nigeria. This gathering, where women used their naked bodies to protest the tax policies of the British colonial administration, stands as a powerful picture of the meaningful use of the body by Nigerian women. The event in Aba is remembered as one of the first historical occurrences of a modern Nigerian women s movement, and also an example of the critique of colonial power. Manifesting the naked female body is a practice deeply ingrained in traditional African cultures as a means to expel injustice. A notable instance happened in 1819 in Nder, a small village in the north of Senegal, whose history is marked by the tragedy of the selfimmolation of a group of women who preferred to kill themselves and their children rather than fall prey to the Arab and Moorish slave traders. The critical resonance of a specifically African and black feminism, together with the spread of artistic practices to international networks, have given shape to the development of a black feminist art. Stemming from the continent and the Diaspora, this black feminist art depicts bodies that continue a tradition of activism and freedom of expression. Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body presents a combination of newly commissioned and existing works dealing with the issues raised by such exposed bodies. What is an African female black body? Is it the supreme object of patriarchal sacrifice? Is it the sacred, stained body, transgressing the boundaries of race and gender in the way it stages and embodies history? Is it all of the above? Let us recall that this bodyvehicle is inscribed in a feminism whose originary history can be traced to Egypt in 1923, to the formation of the Egyptian Feminist Union, the first African feminist movement, led by Huda Sha rawi. In the early 1980s, some people preferred to speak of Womanism, rather than Feminism, considering it a more inclusive feminism defended 1 Miriam Syowia Kyambi Fracture (i), Performance / installation. Photo: Marko Kivioja, Terhi Vaatti & Anni Kivioja, Kouvola Art Museum Poikilo, Finland. Courtesy the artist. 1 in Contemporary African Art Since 1980 d 03 by AfricanAmerican author Alice Walker. This preference for Womanism over Feminism among some black women deserves to be mentioned: it stems from the marginalization of women of colour in the most prevalent forms of feminism, and from the fact that African women and those of African descent have been disappointed by white radical feminism, which they see as often oblivious to the realities of black women. This unity of purpose and the quest for it is what can be found in the work of the artists shown here. The works by the six participating artists can be seen as so many ways of reexploring, reintegrating and reincarnating the body; and the media of contemporary art performance, photography, video, film, installation are so many means to achieve that end. The works reference historical and political figures, they recreate modern personas and reanimate past and present bodies. This is the case with the recurring, and haunting, presence of Sarah Saartjie Baartman, known as the Hottentot Venus or Black Venus, an exposed and violated bodyobject that has become a fixture in the discussion of black body politics. Each of the participating artists is particular in the way she materially positions the body her own or an abstracted form of it in a story, and in its rereading as a singular space within an increasingly homogeneous world. It is this diversity and subjectivity of forms and answers that Body Talk aims to uncover. Koyo Kouoh Valerie Oka, Tu crois vraiment que parce que je suis noire je baise mieux?, Néon. The artist. d 04 Biography Koyo Kouoh is founding artistic director of Raw Material Company, a center for art, knowledge, and society in Dakar, Senegal, and the curator of FORUM, an educational program at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. She has a degree in banking administration and cultural management in Switzerland and in France. Koyo Kouoh, who maintains a sustained theoretical, exhibition, and residency program at Raw Material Company, also pursues curatorial, advisory, and judging activity internationally. Koyo Kouoh lives and works in Dakar and Basel. AGENDA / In collaboration with Rasha Salti, she is currently working on Saving Bruce Lee: African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy , a research, exhibition, and publication project spread out over three years, which will be featured at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow in June 2015 and September / The 37th edition of EVA International, Ireland s biennial of contemporary art, will be curated by Koyo Kouoh. SELECTED RECENT PROJECTS / Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Word of Six African Women Artists, WIELS, Lunds Konsthall, 49 Nord 6 Est 2014 / Precarious Imaging: Visibility surrounding African Queerness , RAW Material Company 2013 / Word!Word?Word! Issa Samb and the undecipherable form , RAW Material Company/OCA/Sternberg Press, the first monograph devoted to the work of the pioneering Senegalese artist Issa Samb 2012 / Condition Report on Building Art Institutions in Africa , a collection of essays presented at the eponymous symposium organized in Dakar in January 2012 and Chronicle of a Revolt: Photographs of a Season of Protest , RAW Material Company & Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. She was a cocurator of Documenta 12 (2007) and Documenta 13 (2012). Koyo Kouoh. Photo: Antoine Tempé d 05 Pictures available on request d 06 Zoulikha Bouabdellah Born in Moscow, Russia, in She grew up in Algiers and moved to France in 1993; she lives and works in Casablanca, Morocco. Nu I / Nu II, 2014 [Nude I / Nude II] Nus envers / Nus endroit, 2014 [Nudes Wrong Side / Nudes Right Side] 4 framed lasercut posters, 88 x 132 cm each. Courtesy de l artiste L araignée, 2013 [The Spider] Painted steel, 95 x 137 x 154 cm. Courtesy the artist 1 2 The artworks presented in the exhibition belong to the series entitled Nus [Nudes] (2014), and they merge two quite distinct art historical traditions: Western nudes and Eastern patterns. Each poster is cut using the traditional compositional scheme of oriental rugs: border, field, corner bracket and central medallion. The works are made of using posters, which the artist has cut using a variety of patterns traditionally used on oriental rugs: border, field, corner bracket, central medallion, etc. The cut posters are reproductions of European paintings: Théodore Chassériau s Sleeping Nymph, William Bouguereau s The Wave, Gustave Courbet s The Sleepers and Diego Vélasquez s Venus at her Mirror. The patterns and the paintings refer to two different conceptions of how to build images: one figurative, the other abstract, both of which seem perfectly strong, balanced and beautiful in these works; their encounter strikes us at once as surprising and selfevident. Zoulikha Bouabdellah s work generates catching and intelligible images for how one can build a self, male or female, that is enriched, and not dissolved, by the multiplicity of identities. The sculpture L araignée [The Spider] (2013) is composed of eight architectural arches. Each arch represents a formal style in common to East and West: Gothic, Moorish, polylobed, Roman, lancet, zigzag, horseshoe and ogee. Their gathering yields an unexpected and singular figure whose form and contours remind us of the spider, a tribute to Louise Bourgeois and her monumental work, Maman (1999). Zoulikha Bouabdellah, 1 Nu I & Nu II, L araignée, 2013 Courtesy the artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah (b in Moscow, Russia) grew up in Algiers and moved to France in A graduate of the Ecole Nationale Superieure d Arts de CergyPontoise in 2002, she now lives and works between Casablanca and Paris. Though she initially favoured video, she now works in a multitude of media challenging cultural dualities and imbalances, as well as cultural fusion and the ability to transcend borders. Since 2007, Zoulikha Bouabdellah s works focus particularly on the status of women. Zoulikha Bouabdellah has won several prizes: Meurice Contemporary Art Prize (Paris, France), Abraaj Capital Art Prize (Dubaï, UAE), Algerian Prize for young Algerian creation and Villa Médicis HorslesMurs/AFAA (Cape Town, South Africa). Her work has been shown all over the world, such as at the 52nd Venice Biennale, the first Aichi Triennale, Dak art Biennial, Mead Art Museum, Centre Pompidou, MoCADA, and Brooklyn Museum. d 07 Marcia Kure Born in Kano, Nigeria, in 1970; she lives and works in Princeton, New Jersey (USA). The Three Graces, 2014 Triptych. Rug, wood and paint, acrylic wig, polyester thread Courtesy the artist et de la galerie Susan Inglett, New York Left: The Amazons of Dahõm ey, 311 x 195 cm Centre: Ndlorukazi Nandi kabebe elangeni, 150 x 128 cm Right: Olufunmilayo RansomeKuti, dimensions variables In The Three Graces (2014), rug reliefs and threedimensional objects serve as a metaphor for the marked, vulnerable and resilient female body. Rugs cover and protect the walls the way clothing and the skin cover the body they conceal hidden things, cover shame and blemishes. The woman s body, like the tapestry in the gallery space, bears the mark of a community s trauma, yet carries the burden of its survival. The carved blackandwhite stripes on the wooden shields are reminiscent of minimalist paintings, but they are also like the keloids marks of beauty, identity or rites of passage on the bodies of African women. The candycoloured Afro wigs, for their part, speak to contemporary encounters of different worlds resulting in hybrids that defy categorization. The Three Graces refers to the terrifying, allfemale warriors of the Kingdom of Dahomey; Nandi, the mother and intrepid protector of Shaka, the legendary nineteenth century Zulu King; and Olufunmilayo Kuti, the frontline Nigerian nationalist and mother of irreverent Afrobeat musician Fela. Conceived as a collective portrait of African women recognized as powerful players in the political realms of their societies, this work speaks as well to the complex negotiations undertaken by women who must confront patriarchal structures in their daily lives. The cut, sutured, carved surfaces of the sculptural installation are indexical of the physical suffering endured by women, past and present; the weird beauty of the marks and poetry of the forms an ode to their endurance and grace. Marcia Kure (b in Kano, Nigeria) lives and works in Princeton, New Jersey. Her drawings, photomontages and sculptures imagine alternative worlds as a critical response to the postcolonial existential condition. Through appropriation and reconfiguration of normative fashion aesthetic, classic juvenile literature, African masking forms, and children s toys, she produces hybrid, darkly striking images and objects that insinuate postmodern loss of certainties and postcolonial destabilization and fragmentation of identities. Marcia Kure was trained at the University of Nigeria, she is an alumna of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Haystack Mountain School. In addition to having had over a dozen oneperson exhibitions in Nigeria, Germany, the Netherlands, England and the USA, her work was shown at La Triennale, Paris (2013), International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Seville (2006), and Sharjah Bienial (2005). Marcia Kure, The Three Graces, 2014 Courtesy the artist and Susan Inglett Gallery, New York d 08 Miriam Syowia Kyambi Born in 1979 in Nairobi, Kenya, where she lives and works. Fracture (i), Performance / installation: dressing table, mannequin head, golden mirror, wet clay pots, red waterbased paint, wooden platforms, cast iron drainpipes, video projections, video footage of the artist s performance on 12 February 2015 at WIELS, Brussels. Courtesy the artist... Frac in Live! Thursday October 29, pm Performance Fracture (i) of Miriam Syowia Kyambi... Miriam Syowia Kyambi s work examines how the contemporary human experience is influenced by constructed history, past and present violence and colonialism. At the beginning of the performance Fracture (i) ( ), which took place during the opening, Kyambi is wearing a sisal costume made with a traditional weaving technique used in the Ukambani region for manufacturing kiondos (a handwoven handbag indigenous to the Kikuyu and Kamba tribes of Kenya). Historically, colonial sisal plantations enforced limits on black Kenyans, taking away their right to establish financial security. Later in the performance, Kyambi embodies Rose, a contemporary character who has come from a rural area and wants to make it in the city. She dresses up for work, but she struggles to greet people, and she repeatedly falls down, stumbling upon the remains of a past destruction. The photographs in the slide projection are Rose s memories of her mother s home and its surroundings. She mourns the loss and attempts to arrange the clay vessels into some sort of order, propping them upright, grouping them. At the end of the performance she faces the agony of the past, forsakes the role she had built for herself and accepts the feelings of sorrow and agony. In Kenya, as any other African country, the image of success is fairly narrow, and success is usually measured with reference to the materialism of Western capitalism. Miriam Syowia Kyambi examines how a society s idea of what you should or shouldn t be constrain individuals and how in return they practice their own freedom. Miriam Syowia Kyambi (b in Nairobi, Kenya) is a multimedia artist of Kenyan and German heritage based in Nairobi. Her work combines performance and installations with impermanent and permanent mediums engaging the viewer in a dynamic process. Much of her work dissects and brings to question perception and memory, examining how the contemporary human experience is influenced by constructed history, past and present violence, colonialism, family and sexuality. Kyambi graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago and has been the recipient of several prestigious awards and grants including most recently the Art in Global Health Grant from the Wellcome Trust Fund in the United Kingdom. Her work has been shown in museums in Belgium, Finland, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States of America Miriam Syowia Kyambi, Fracture (i), Performance reactivated on 13 February 2015 at Wiels. Courtesy the artist d 09 Valérie Oka Born in 1967, to a French mother and an Ivorian father. She moved to France aged eight; today she works and lives in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Tu crois vraiment que parce que je suis noire je baise mieux?, 2015 [Do you really think I m a better fuck because I m black?] Neon. Courtesy the artist 1 En sa présence, 2015 [In Her Presence] Video footage of the discursive performance on 13 February 2015 at WIELS, Brussels. Duration: Courtesy the artist Untitled, 2015 Video footage of the performance by Lazara Rosell Albear on 13 February 2015 at WIELS, Brussels. Duration: 5 38 Courtesy the artist 2 Valérie Oka s work examines the prejudices, the things left unsaid that can be traced to the colonial ghosts still circulating today, signs of a certain racism deeply rooted in society. The neon Tu crois vraiment que parce que je suis noire je baise mieux? [Do you really think I m a better fuck because I am black?] (2015) provocatively confronts us to how the sexuality of African women becomes an object of fantasy, of fetish. On a TV monitor nearby, footage is shown of a dinner performance entitled En sa présence (2015) in which twelve guests, including the artist, are gathered around the following question: How does the white man represent the black woman? Valérie Oka invites us to discuss, exchange ideas, analyze and, in the end, come to a better understanding of the embodiment of the black woman as woman / object. In the filmed performance Untitled (2015), the artist stages a black female body, naked, in a largesize iron cage and denounces the mechanisms for devaluing and dehumanizing its embodiment. The door of the cage remains opens, thus expressing the idea that the black woman is free to remain imprisoned in the stigmas created by the white colonial imagination, or to liberate herself from them: I want the spectator to become aware of what he is looking at, to experience the emotions coursing through him at that moment. I want him to ask himself about what really bothers him, and also about the images he himself puts into circulation. Valérie Oka 1 Untitled, 2015.Performance reactivated on 13 February 2015 at Wiels Courtesy the artist. 2 En sa présence, Performance reactivated on 13 February 2015 at Wiels. Courtesy the artist The work of Valerie Oka (b in Abidjan, Côte d Ivoire) blends diverse mediums and artistic disciplines in order to achieve dynamic, multimedia compositions. Her performances, installations, drawings, paintings, and sculptures explore the fundamentals of human relationships: sexual and emotional intimacy, desire, violence, and communication or its absence. Born to a French mother and a father from Côte d Ivoire, Valérie Oka grew up in France. Sh
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