THIS IS NOT AFRICA – UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED is intended as a project for promoting greater self-insight by focusing on art and the artists’ own voices. In terms of subject matter the exhibition is one of a wide scope, involving both conflict-ridden, social and political conditions related to the continent's past, present and future and more universal themes reaching far beyond Africa’s borders, e.g. by touching on issues of power and language, the colonial era and today’s global capitalism, structural racism and counter-narratives. As the title indicates, the works in the exhibition challenge a stereotypical and traditional Western view of Africanness. The works include video, installation, painting, sculpture, photography and performance art.
This exhibition is largely motivated by a desire to draw attention to certain prejudices associated with Africanness and to the notion that our individual perception of the world is a construct created by our own thoughts and attitudes, which may, however, be developed and challenged over time – and thus unlearned. With this exhibition we thus want to create a space for added reflection on the filters we see the world through and the blind spots they may generate, says Erlend G. Høyersten, museum director, ARoS.
From the very beginning we have been aware of our own blind spots as a Western institution. We wished to make the stories of the exhibition open and nuanced. Therefore, it was important for us that a number of curators and guest editors from or related to the African continent were involved. It was also important that the art and the artists’ own voices were brought to the fore instead of having one single curatorial voice based on the ‘white gaze’. The result is an exhibition offering a cacophony of numerous voices coming from very different positions and places in the world, says Maria Kappel Blegvad, curator-in-charge, ARoS.
The exhibition is curated by Erlend G. Høyersten, museum director, ARoS, Maria Kappel Blegvad, curator, ARoS, Ibrahim Mahama, artist and founder of the SCCA, Tamale, Ghana and Selom Kudjie, artistic director, SCCA, Tamale.
Arists: AAIÚN NIN / ATHI-PATRA RUGA / BARTHÉLÉMY TOGUO / BERNARD AKOI-JACKSON / BILLIE ZANGEWA / BOLATITO ADEREMI-IBITOLA / BRONWYN KATZ / CANDICE BREITZ / DAN HALTER / EURIDICE GETULIO KALA / GRADA KILOMBA / JEANNETTE EHLERS & LA VAUGHN BELLE / KAPWANI KIWANGA / KELVIN HAIZEL / MESCHAC GABA / MOFFAT TAKADIWA / NÁSTIO MOSQUITO / NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY / NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS / ROBEL TEMESGEN / SAMMY BALOJI / SETHEMBILE MSEZANE / TABITA REZAIRE / TRACY NAA KOSHIE THOMPSON / ZANELE MUHOLI