Thuistezien 125 — 23.12.2020

Kudzanai Chiurai, Simon Gush, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Simon Njami, Nana Adusei-Poku, Senam Okudzeto, Renzo Martens and Jelle Bouwhuis
This is not Africa, this is us

2020 has been an eventful year. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement has reached a global peak so far. And many in the Western world realize that each of us still have a lot to learn about how we represent and treat the black community as well as other disadvantaged groups. Also in the art scene. Perhaps we should keep quiet for a moment and let the protagonists tell us how they feel and how things should be done differently.

In 2014, a debate as part of the exhibition ‘This is not Africa, this is us’ took place. This panel discussion aimed to establish a connection between the exhibitions and address issues of imaging and the way art functions in different cultures.
What is especially emerging, however, is the uneasiness of much of the conversation due to the differences in perception of moderator and participants. Together with the visual image of the non-verbal behavior of the participants, this uncomfortable atmosphere leads to an interesting conversation, which shows that institutional inequality also plays a role in art and from which the white audience in particular can learn something. But it also becomes clear how difficult it is for everyone to verbalize what you actually mean in a neutral way without saying anything from just your own frame of reference. We, white Westerners and institutions are subtly criticized here. Perhaps rightly so. Fortunately, it is never too late to learn and to turn the gaze from ourselves to the other. Keep watching until the end. Curator and critic Simon Njami has some advice for us when the conversation is almost over.

This video registration shows the panel discussion in Kunsthal Rotterdam from February 2014 that is associated with ‘This is not Africa, this is us’, a three-part exhibition including debate, initiated by West Den Haag, on the occasion of Art Rotterdam. The panel consists of moderator Jelle Bouwhuis (curator), the three artists of the exhibitions: Kudzanai Chiurai, Simon Gush and Kemang Wa Lehulere and guest speakers Simon Njami (curator/critic), Nana Adusei-Poku (researcher/curator/former professor Rotterdam University ), Senam Okudzeto (artist/writer/teacher) and Renzo Martens (filmmaker/artist).

Text: Miranda Meijer