“It’s time to move on from talk of the ‘Dark Continent’.”
“Making Africa”- A Continent of Contemporary Design is a major exhibition of the Vitra Design Museum and Guggenheim Bilbao taking place in the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. The exhibition has been running from 14th March and set to end on 13 September 2015 so there is still time to see it. The exhibition sheds new light on contemporary design in Africa and move on from talks of the “Dark Continent” showcasing the work of over 120 artists and designers. This exhibition will show how design is accompanying and even promoting economic and political change. The exhibition features, amongst many others, the objects of Cheik Diallo, eyewear sculptures by Cyrus Kabiru, the photographs of Mário Macilau, Omar Victor Diop and Okhai Ojeikere.Africa is presented as a hub of experimentation generating new approaches and solutions of worldwide relevance – and as a driving force for a new discussion of the potential of design in the twenty-first century. When the “African boom” comes up in the media, the reports tend to focus on the continent’s fast-paced economic growth or the rapidly expanding middle class – phenomena that will remain at the root of fundamental changes in coming decades. However, another development has already altered the everyday lives of all Africans and yields a significant influence upon the work of artists and designers.
At present, there are already 650 million registered mobile phones in Africa, more than in Europe or the US. Many of these devices have access to the Internet and thus create a platform for communication and the exchange of information. This portal to the world has enabled the shift in perspective that lies at the centre of “Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design.” The exhibition focuses on a new generation of entrepreneurs, thinkers and designers from and within Africa, who – as “digital natives” – address a global audience and provide the world with a new vantage point on their continent. They often work across several disciplines simultaneously and break with conventional definitions of design, art, photography, architecture and film.
All of the works presented are underpinned by a quest to address questions of material culture and everyday aesthetics – in short, questions of design. The objects show that design in Africa is understood on a much more inclusive level than in Western societies – and they are proof that this understanding can produce innovative new approaches to design.
Find out more about this exhibition and if you happen to be in Germany; make sure to stop by.
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