art me africa

M+M Ethiopian Style

Posted in ethiopia, installation by artmeafrica on November 30, 2008

An assemblage of bright ‘n primary colored plastic bowls, lights, and gyrating fans cribbed from household good stores, Assefa Gebrekidan’s installations are like a theme park birthed from the creative cooperation of Vladamir Tatlin, Ethiopian Orthodox painters, and the makers of Mouse Trap. Thematically playing with light as a substance of magic and missiles, Gebrekidan calls viewers up to the switch plate, leaving the passive to venture through his abstract ode to readymades in the dark. Exhibited at London’s Camden Arts Center during his 2005 fellowship, the set of six, Coming Out, A Glimmer of Hope, Wheel of Time, Unwanted Guest, A Cracking Night, and Inner Power is Gebrekidan’s only work to be found on the net, begging the question, where did his infamous photos of clay pot destruction wander off to?


Everybody loves Lolo

Posted in africa, art, photography, south africa by artmeafrica on November 30, 2008

Ayanda Makhuzeni, Gugulethu, Cape Town, Western Cape, 2007


Shot in Jo’burg’s polychromatic streets, Lolo Veleko’s Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder (2004+) and Wonderland (2007+) are sexy compendiums of young fashionistas and urban spots that boldly declare Urban Africa ain’t just Hyena men and crumbling Lumumbas. Owing to her subjects’ boss coordination of accessories and necessaries, Veleko’s photos could easily be popped into a more racially astute version of Nylon’s Street Stylin’ section, even if she isn’t snapping for commerce. Veleko documents looks as vocab for cultural communication and q’s of complex post-Aparthied identity. But before calling it classic post-colonial politicin’ v. shallow hipster connoisseurship, consider the parallels between her work and Fruits‘s insight into transformative Japanese textiles and hair color or if ensembles sans baby tees make you sleep better at night, think The Sartorialist– afterall, they are both repped by Danzinger Gallery (Chelsea, NY). Yet despite being represented in Chelsea and by Goodman Gallery (Gauteng, J’burg), Lolo sits under a measure of obscurity in NY’s Chelesea/Soho/LES/Dumbo/Billyburg gallery pentagon. So tsk tsk to all you in-the-dark photophiles and go check out her latest exhibit in Berlin.

InReview: Grace Ndiritu and Poetics of the Cloth African Textiles/Recent Art

Posted in africa, art by artmeafrica on November 23, 2008

On exhibit at NYU’s Gray Gallery Poetics of the Cloth African Textiles/Recent Art is an awkward shot-gun marriage between shiny trash turned fine art and yet another conservative, banal stab at curating African work. There is El Anatsui, the renowned Ghanian bad ass of scrap metal and and golden bottle tops; Sokari Douglass Camp, a Nigerian politial practitioner of recast scrap metal; and other textile imaginators who weave ‘n torque patterns out of anything but their grandparent’s sewing kits. Standing outside the cloth-metal crowd is Grace Ndiritu, a video cloth temptress extraordinaire hailing from the U.K. and immigrant parents. Whether training her lens on women’s blue scarfed heads in slowmo that make lonely planet traveler home videos look like a sham or recording herself defiantly wrapping and unwrapping herself into a temptpress in the Nightingale (2003), Ndiritu becons our voyeuristic desire to glaze over and gaze.

Sadly, the wall scribblers tacked up the interesting details in a small font, letting the oversize letters discourse like its 1999 all over again: really, how many more times does a university gallery need to reiterate that art is everywhere in baby-step language? While wall text shouldn’t leave the art impaired shipwrecked in jargon, the show’s curators over did it. And to make matters worse, The New York Times‘s Karen Rosenberg butchered it further. Opening her review with “to the casual Western eye “African art” equals “African sculpture” [and as this] exhibition makes clear, this picture is laughably outdated,” Rosenberg ironically opted not to mention that minus the wall hangings and a tv, the exhibit is sculptures. And as if Rosenberg hadn’t already sewn herself into a rhetorical quagmire, she later laid the misinformation down by penning “One of the show’s discoveries, Grace Ndiritu…” as if Ndiritu work hadn’t been reviewed in Frieze in 2007 or  given a shout out in Holland Cotter’s (i.e. NYTimes ole man of art reviewing) April ’08 review of Flow, which showed at the Studio Museum of Harlem. Apparently writing for The New York Times doesn’t necessitate reading it anymore.

But trash talk aside, catch the show: it‘s on view ’til December 6th.