Books and music,People

CHIMAMANDA HGOZI ADICHIE

7 May , 2021  

Chimamanda is a figure who has acquired great international relevance thanks to her small works in support of the international feminist movement (works which, in my opinion, are no more than facile pamphlets for mass consumption).

 

However, she is essentially a narrative writer with a literary career that is turning her into a universal writer with a very prominent African component.

 

AMERICANAH

 

American critics have definitively crowned her as one of the most interesting voices in the English language thanks to “Americanah” by awarding her the National Critics’ Prize. A narrative in which she explores her crusade against single history in a drift that takes place on three continents.

 

Prior to this work he wrote: The Purple Flower (three novels and a book of short stories written in English); Half a Yellow Sun; Something Around Your Neck (stories are by Nigerians in the United States).

 

HALF A YELLOW SUN

 

Chimamanda lives in the USA, but she is Nigerian by birth, of Igbo tradition (one of the majority -but not representative- ethnic groups in the country).

 

This work: “Half a Yellow Sun”, a title taken from the coat of arms that was chosen at the time for the independence project of the Biafra region, with an Igbo majority, is set in the years leading up to the war for the independence of this region of Nigeria, which was finally lost, giving rise to a humanitarian catastrophe.

 

Throughout the pages “recreates the lives of three characters caught up in the turbulence of the decade: young Ugwu, a clerk in the house of a revolutionary-minded university professor; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful wife, who for love has abandoned her privileged life in Lagos to live in a dusty town; and Richard, a shy young Englishman who is in love with Olanna’s sister, a mysterious woman who refuses to commit herself to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance, the protagonists of this story must defend their beliefs and reaffirm their loyalties”.

 

While even J.M. Coetzee considers it an extraordinary novel, I have to say that while all of the above makes Chimamanda promising reading, my experience is that it is a sluggish text with no clear drift until well into the second half of the book that provides anything of interest to those of us who, like me, endlessly study all possible versions of contemporary African history.

 

It is possible that much of the blame for the story’s lack of substance lies with the translation, though that is not enough to call this work weak.

 

I have read her feminist pamphlets and I promise to read at least Americanah, and when I do I promise to do so without expectation.

 

That said, it does not detract from the recognition that anyone who undertakes the noble task of writing a book deserves.

 

Chimamanda returns to Lagos every summer to give writing workshops at the Farafina Fund, which she set up with her Nigerian publisher to promote reading and writing.

 

 

 

, , , ,

Our trips

TADELAKT POTTERY

6 Apr , 2021  

Tadelakt is an elegant lime coating typical of Marrakesh that is characterised by its bright colour and its impermeability.

Its unique finish is achieved by rubbing it with a pebble and olive oil soap.

Beyond its beauty and elegance, tadelakt is a symbol of the aristocratic culture of North Africa which, thanks to the development of research, has spread thanks to its traditional and warm spirit and its many colours and its versatility in different styles.

It can be used both indoors (especially in bathrooms and floors, a thermal comfort that regulates both temperature and humidity and has fungicidal properties that limit the development of fungi) and outdoors and has inspired new building materials such as micro-cement.

This ancient technique is also used to make Moroccan ceramic vessels.

 

 

 

 

, , , , ,

Our trips

BAYA

18 Feb , 2021  

Baya Mahieddine, better known as Baya, is one of the most important post-war Algerian artista. Orphaned at a Young age, she was adopted in 1942 by the French artista, intelectual and colletor Marguerite Caminat Benhoura, who stimulated Baya’s artistic development and taught her to Paint. This edition of Derrier le Miroir was published to accompany Baya’s first solo exhibition, at the influential Galerie Maeeght in Paris. Baya was 16.

 

Baya is often described as an outsider, a child artist “discovered” by art dealer Aimé Maeght and “taken under the wings” of intellectuals and artists such as André Breton, Jean Dubuffet, and Pablo Picasso. In Derriére le miroir Baya is described as “la petite orpheline”, the little orphan. The colorful, magical world of her paintings would seem to confirm this view of her. But recent exhibitions and books show her to have been a determined artist who consciously chose and developed her own style.

 

She painted women, birds, fish, and plants in bright shades of blue, red, and yellow, frequently including patterns. The Algerian writer Assia Djebar sees the eyes as the key to understanding Baya’s artistic intentions: “Baya’s woman fixes her giant eye, wide open, on flowers, fruits, the sound of the lute and the guitar, the complicit birds, the fish in the bowl, a child perched on the head or shoulder of the hostess who is conversing with a palm tree … [Bayal, the first in a string of sequestered women whose blindfold suddenly fell from their eyes.”

 

In 1953, Baya returned to Algeria, married, had children, and stopped painting for nearly ten years. Was she preoccupied with her family, or was it because of the bloody war of independence that raged until 1962? Whatever the case, after independence she reappeared, painting again and exhibiting her work. In 1967 Baya also signed the manifesto of the group Achouem (tattoo), which called for the reassembly of “artistic elements invented by the civilizations of the Third World” to -give expression to “the new Algerian reality”.

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , ,

Cities and Countries,Travel philosophy

HENLEY INDEX, THE RANKING OF PASSPORTS

21 Jan , 2021  

*This post have been translated with www.DeepL.com

 

For 16 years the Henley Passport Index (by Henley & Partners) has been ranking all passports worldwide according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a visa.

 

The index is updated quarterly and its content is based on data provided by IATA, the International Air Transport Authority (the world’s largest and most accurate travel information database) and is supplemented, enhanced and updated using extensive in-house research and open source online data. The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.

 

Not all passports are of equal value. While some open the doors to virtually any country in the 195 countries that make up the planet, others allow you to visit only a few dozen of them. This is the case of Japan, the country with the most powerful passport in the world, and Afghanistan, which has the most powerful passport in the world.

 

According to the index, those with a Japanese passport can enter 191 of the 195 countries recognised by the UN without any problem. As of today, the United Nations recognises 193 countries plus the Vatican State and Palestine, which are considered permanent observers of the UN even though they do not belong to it.

 

Second place goes to Singapore’s passport (190), which drops one position from last year, when it tied with Japan at the top. Meanwhile, South Korea and Germany share third place thanks to a passport that allows easy entry to a total of 189 nations around the world.

 

Then Spain (which moves up to fourth place), Italy, Finland and Luxembourg 4 give visa-free access to 188 countries.

 

THE MOST POWERFUL PASSPORTS

 

At the other end of the scale, countries such as Afghanistan only allow visa-free access to 26 countries. On the other hand, the Henley index also highlights other nations such as Iraq (28), Syria (29), Somalia and Pakistan (32), Yemen (33) and Libya (37). Meanwhile, North Korea’s passport is ranked 100th, as it opens the doors to 39 countries.

 

The Henley & Partners ranking is, to some extent, a detailed picture of freedom of travel according to citizenship and shows that not all passports are worth the same. While for some, a passport is a gateway to the world, for others it is a barrier to the freedom of travel they seek.

 

BUYING CITIZENSHIP

 

With enough money one can add citizenship (and a corresponding passport) to one’s birthright through residency and citizenship by investment programmes that allow nations to grant residency or citizenship rights to individuals in exchange for a substantial investment.

 

Citizenship by investment refers to the process by which candidates are granted full citizenship in exchange for their substantial economic contribution to the passport-issuing state.

 

Residency by investment refers to a similar process, but applicants in this case are granted temporary residency, which may extend to permanent residency or, in some cases, citizenship at a later stage.

 

For individuals, the key benefits of having an alternative passport include greater travel mobility, access to global business and educational opportunities, ease of asset diversification and enhanced security in a rapidly changing world.

 

Residency and citizenship by investment programmes currently exist in almost 100 countries around the world, including 60% of EU member states.

 

The most successful and credible countries in the residency and citizenship categories are listed below.

 

Antigua and Barbuda offers one of the most competitive citizenship programmes in the Caribbean. Options start from USD 100,000 and Antigua and Barbuda citizens have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 151 destinations, including major business and lifestyle destinations.

 

Austria has one of the strongest passports in the world providing holders with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 187 destinations worldwide, along with settlement rights in all EU member states. Options for Austrian citizenship start with a minimum contribution of 3 million euros.

 

Dominica offers an attractive citizenship programme with a real estate option. Required contributions start at USD 100.00 and citizens gain visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 141 destinations worldwide.

 

The Island of Grenada has the only Caribbean citizenship programme that offers successful applicants visa-free access to China. With options starting at USD 150,000, Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers a great balance between the benefits it provides and the financial contribution required.

 

Malta’s grant of citizenship for exceptional services through the Direct Investment Regulations allows for the granting of citizenship through a certificate of naturalisation to foreign persons and their families who contribute to the economic development of the country.

 

Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers enhanced global mobility with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 124 destinations, including Schengen Area countries in Europe, as well as Russia and the United Arab Emirates. A minimum contribution of EUR 350,000 is required.

 

St. Kitts and Nevis has one of the strongest passports among all Caribbean citizenship programmes. For a minimum donation of USD 150,000, the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 156 destinations.

 

St. Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers increased mobility and global opportunities by providing visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 146 destinations worldwide. For a grant of USD 100,000, applicants can acquire their passports in as little as three to four months.

 

The Turkish Citizenship by Investment Programme offers citizenship of a country with links to Asia and Europe that has access to markets in both regions. The Turkish passport provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 110 destinations worldwide. For a real estate investment of USD 250,000, passports can be acquired in six to nine months.

 

, ,

Arts,Cities and Countries

AKAA PARIS 2020

15 Oct , 2020  

AKAA – Also Known As Africa is the first contemporary art and design fair focused on Africa in France And reinforce its commitment to showcasing contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora.

 

Decoexplorer following our commitment to contemporary African art, are delighted to announce that the 2020 edition of AKAA will take place exceptionally this year, under the glass roof of the Atelier Richelieu, in the Palais-Royal district, from 13 to 15 November. This 5th edition features twenty-one exhibitors from France, other European countries and Africa, yet one American curator,

AKAA is the only fair in France to spotlight artists working on this market and has to develop something here even if it’s smaller than 1-54 in London

 

The fair, redesigned in this exceptional context, will therefore offer a more intimate format to welcome exhibitors and visitors in the best conditions and to refocus on the sustainability of a market in full development. Access to AKAA will be by invitation only. The dialogue and the relationship between the gallery and its clientele will be privileged, in order to favour networking and projects for artists, and to continue to strengthen the market of contemporary African art in Paris.

 

Several highlights and meetings will be offered throughout the fair to enrich the visiting experience.

 

“I would be very happy to integrate those kinds of [higher calibre] artists and the more established we get, the more feasible it would be to get the participation of those [more renowned] galleries,” says Victoria Mann, the founder of AKAA.“It’s a long-term process. The idea is to open up the fair to other contemporary art scenes in the Middle East and Latin America that are in one way or another connected to the African continent because I don’t think that having a strictly African art fair is sustainable.”

Affordable discoveries by upcoming artists are aplenty from collages by Helina Metaferia, born in the US to Ethiopian parents, and mixed media works by the Bahamas-born, London-based Alexandria Robinson, both at Nomad Gallery (Brussels), to Ugandan artist Ocom Adonias’s charcoal drawings on newspaper collages at Afriart Gallery, Kampala.

Yet some dealers have suggested that AKAA could benefit from being held during Fiac in October and needs to attract more serious collectors to enable more expensive works to be sold. “Unlike 1-54 and Art Lagos, AKAA is missing premiere branding and if the audience isn’t looking for big prices, it’s difficult for the galleries to break even so it needs to work harder to attract collectors from other European cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin,” says Daudi Karungi from Afriart Gallery.

 

AKAA will return to the Carreau du Temple for its sixth edition in November 2021

 

The art director is Armelle Dakouo. For more information, visit www.akaafair.com / contact@akaafair.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , ,

Arts,Cities and Countries

MASKS. METAMORPHOSIS OF MODERN IDENTITY

2 Oct , 2020  

This exhibition, featuring more than 100 pieces and curated by Luis Puelles and Lourdes Moreno, explores how masks changed the representation of the human figure in modern art. Initially having a traditional, festive use linked to carnivals and fancy-dress costume, which lingered on in early avant-garde art in depictions of characters from the Commedia dell’arte, masks came to be identified with the grotesque in Goya’s work and emerged as a reference for portraying the face in modern art as a result of the influence of ethnographic masks of non-European cultures in the early 20th century.

 

Mirroring the sequence of a metamorphosis, the exhibition examines how masks were used in art as something absolute, beyond their well-known traditional associations with rituals, magic, the theatre and costume, showing how they went from being objects to artistic images. It traces the evolution of masks from physical objects –tangible elements placed over faces to conceal or replace them – to the gradual abandonment of the presence behind them, eventually leading to their loss of materiality and independence from the face and, ultimately, to the merging of mask and face into a new and ambiguous identity in modern portraiture.

 

Supernatural masks. The artists of the early avant-garde period became increasingly interested in non-western ritual masks as sources of inspiration for shattering the codes of figurative representation and imbuing works with new meanings and varied  nterpretations. Modern artists’ espousal of the aesthetic principles associated with the ‘primitive’ – simplicity, coarseness, spirituality, a hieratic appearance –marked the abandonment of the academic conventions of beauty and harmony and from then onwards the mask acted as a modern synthesis of the human face.

 

CARNIVAL FOLLIES

 

Over the course of history artists have turned to masks and fancy-dress costume as strategies for shaping new identities. Carnival celebrations are a paradigmatic example of the collective release of irrational urges through masks. They are a means of subverting the rules and giving free rein to the most basic instincts. We find similar strategies in the theatre, where characters wear masks and are protected by a physical barrier between reality and appearance, in a universe that combines the grotesque, the comic and caricature.

 

TRANSFIGURED FACES

 

As the last link in the genealogical chain of the presence of masks in the complex modern identity, we find portraits where faces function as ‘inhuman’ masks, with no communicative depth. The triumph of subjectivity, the absence of dogmas and loss of interest in achieving likeness gave rise to a repertoire of identities that were ambiguous, fragmented, disfigured, alienated or concealed by makeup. These ‘faceless’ portraits are an appropriate expression of today’s contradictory society.

 

Bilingual catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition

 

The catalogue, illustrated with 147 colour plates, includes texts by the exhibition curators Luis Puelles Romero, Professor of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the UMA, Lourdes Moreno, Director of the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga, and contributions from the Museum’s curatorial team.

 

In the following links you can see two videos of the exhibition:

 

https://www.carmenthyssenmalaga.org/multimedia/video/161

https://www.carmenthyssenmalaga.org/exposiciones/2020/Mascaras/vv/visita_virtual.html

 

Museo Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Málaga From 28 July 2020 to 10 January 2021

 

 

Julio Gonzalez. Máscara austera. 1940

 

 

Pablo Picasso. Etude ‘trois femmes’. 1908

 

Walt Kuhn, Boy with chistera, 1948

 

, , , , ,

Arts,History of Africa,People

FANTI DOLLS

7 May , 2020  

Fanti doll, clearly related in form ton the Ashanti  akua ba. It has been claimed that both types of doll are Ashanti, and that the round-headed type is worn when girls is desired and the rectangular-headed type when  a boy is wanted, but in fact they are the work of different peoples.

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , , ,

Arts,History of Africa

MAN RAY AND THE BAULE MASK

18 Apr , 2020  

This photograph was produced for the fashion magazine Vogue. Man Ray’s girlfriend, Kiki, a singer, actress and model, embodies the ideal of beauty at the time, a chalk white, symmetrical oval face and cherry mouth. Man Ray used the Ivorian Baule mask, probably a copy made for the tourism market, to lend this Western beauty ideal an exotic connotation. In addition, the upright mask seems to be more alive than the recumbent face. The photograph by Man Ray corresponds with the surrealist conception that collisions such as this disrupt everyday reality. The surrealists often used art from Africa and Oceania in undermining the European tradition. In doing so, they did not pay heed to the original context and function of these objects

 

 

 

 

, , , , ,

History of Africa,People

BERBERS

2 Apr , 2020  

Unknown protagonists silenced by official sources, the Berbers (or Imazighen, as they prefer to be known) are the group of peoples who since ancient times occupied almost all of North Africa, from the Siwa oasis (west of Egypt) to the Atlantic Ocean, including the Canary Islands, and from the Mediterranean to the south border of the Sahara.

 

Throughout history they have gone by many other names (Mauri, Libu, Numidians, Gaetuli, Garamantes…) reflecting their internal, geographical, and cultural plurality.

 

The Imazighen have witnessed numerous migrations, colonisations, and invasions. All have enriched their identity, while reducing their population through assimilationist policies.

However, the Berbers survive. It is calculated that there are currently over 35 million Berber, 20 million in Morocco, while the European and American diaspora account for several million

 

The Amazigh identity or identities are today reflected above all in their language, TAMAZIGHT, in its different variations (Tarifit. Tashelhit, Tamahaq…). It is also reflected in their awareness of sharing a common legacy of traditions, celebrations, and customs, and finally in their willingness to accept this legacy as their own.

 

From the late 11th century, major dynasties from North Africa such as the Almoravid (lamțūna) and then the Almohad (masmuda) tried to reunify the Islamic West, reinterpreting Is lam and homogenising and highlighting the Amazigh language ge and culture which became driving forces for Islamisation. However, the influence of the Imazighen did not end there.

 

At the height of the hegemony of the feudal kingdoms, from the 13th century, a new power came into play, the Marinids. The ties between this emirate with its seat in Fez and that of the Nasrid in Granada were solid, with mutual influences and extensive exchanges. This can be observed in the Alhambra and the major institutional constructions (madrasa, maristan, gates…) but also in everyday ceramic goods. It has even been argued that a Maghrebisation took place in Granada.

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , , ,

Arts,History of Africa

PRÉSENCE AFRICAINE

5 Mar , 2020  

Before the Second World War, black intellectuals who studied in Paris saw how European colonial powers suppressed African culture. Central to their thinking was a feasible, collective African identity, Négritude. In using this name, they changed a term with negative connotations, nègre, into a word that can express the value of black culture and history. The Négritude movement formed the basis of the magazine Présence Africaine and the “First Congress of Black Writers and Artists”, held in 1956 in Paris. Leading roles were played by the intellectuals Aimé Césaire, Alioune Diop, and Léopold Senghor. They placed great value on precolonial African traditions and art, while also applying modernist strategies in their work, such as alienation, fragmentation, and experimentation.

 

For black artists in Paris, it was shocking to see important African objects in museums which could scarcely still be found in African countries, a cynical consequence of colonial history. Présence Africaine, which is active to this day, offered a platform to intellectuals who wanted to give shape to a black self-awareness in the modern world, Or as its founder Diop put it, “Présence Africaine is open to the good will of all men (white, yellow, or black) who can help to define African originality and hasten its insertion into the modern world”.

 

 

, , , , ,