Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brief notes

So much has happened since my last posting in January. But such is life! Death came knocking. The Cameroonian artist Goddy Leye (1965-2011) who was running the Art Bakery, and has played a major role keeping the fires of contemporary art burning in Douala and elsewhere in Cameroon, died last month. So tragic. I hope his family finds healing in this immense loss. Travel well, journeyman.

As I write, my old friend Ulli Beier, the master of Migila House is gravely ill. My prayers are with him and his family.

On a less sombre note, I spent most of this past week in Oslo, at KHIO, the National Academy of the Fine Arts where I gave a keynote lecture at a conference on global dialogue and the arts. Until this event, I didn't realize the scale of Norwegian support of fine art and artists from Zambia. Speaking of which, I had a wonderful time with a cluster of young artists from Zambia resident in Oslo, including Anawana Haloba who I think is one of the terrific young artists working now.
Erik Solheim, Norwegian Minister of Development @ at the KHIO Seminar. He gave a good speech, until he described Joseph Conrad as one of the most important critics of European colonialism! Photos: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Berlin-based Burkinabe architect, Diebedo Kere, presenting his designs for rural schools in his home country. Memo to Nigerian architects: pay attention to this guy's work!

Kjetil Thorsen, Norwegian architecture presenting his firm's design for the amazing Alexandria (Egypt) Library, and the Oslo Opera. Smart, he is.

But the highlight of my trip, really, was seeing again after ten years Gavin Jantjes, the South African curator and artist based at the National Museum of art, Oslo.  Gavin has just organized a huge, fabulous survey exhibition of Nicholas Hlobo, the South African artist there at the Museum--the very first time a non-western artist was occupying that space, and in such an emphatic manner! This show ought to be seen everywhere, unfortunately, I don't think it is traveling.

Gavin Jantjes, with Hlobo's Ndize (2010) in the background.