“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best, now.”
Even if a vibrant African Art scene emerged since the end of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994 and as a consequence of the ongoing globalisation, the Art scene in Africa is still small and foreigners have but limited access to it: “During the last fifteen years it was indeed considered that art from Africa was exhibited – but even so it was far too little since Western art production determines the market” said Julia Grosse, the deputy editor of “C&”.
Nevertheless, in recent years African art has more and more found its way in the consciousness of Europe. Salah Hassan (Sudan) an Art historian of the Cornell University says: “I think this is due to a new openness in Europe, but also because art in Africa is so strong. Someday you will no longer talk of ‘contemporary American art’ and ‘contemporary African, European and Asian art’. You will only talk of ‘contemporary art’ because art has much less to do with technique than with meaning.”
African Fine Arts are no longer just in the periphery of the global art world but forge an exciting link between tradition and contemporaneity, between fear and hope, destruction and progress. African artists mix in their work the traditions of the global art discourse without, however, losing sight of their own roots, says Marcel Odenbach. “They work a lot with video, photography, performance, or the Internet. The boundaries of fashion, theatre, film blur.” Such new forms of presentation and engaging art have not only a more relevant but also a greater chance of funding and effectiveness in the country as paintings, “that no one buys there anyway “.
The OSTRALE – International Exhibition of Contemporary Arts – approaches the topic as a three-year series of exhibitions. Referring to the book DEAD AID which points out the absurdity and destructiveness of foreign aid to African countries, published by the African Dambisa Moyo in 2009, they are titled DEAD AID. In the exhibition we want to look at Africa holistically OSTRALE’O15, due to the size and diversity of the continent and its subsequent (especially) economic or political situations.
Under the slogan “The African Tree”, the focus of the first year is on North, West and Central Africa. The OSTRALE´O15 takes a look at Morocco, which has established a relatively advanced and stable political system in recent years – but also to the countries of Mali, Sierra Leone and the Congo, where partial Islamism, recurrent famines and civil wars determine the daily life.
The questions and objectives of the exhibition series can be summarised as follows: Where and what is the art of the African cosmos? What potential does Art have for the development of society? What is the connection between art, integration and African experience?