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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

African Artists’ Foundation Announces The Grand Opening Of ‘Dig Where You Stand’ At Palais De Lomé

The Grand Opening Weekend celebrates the second edition of the nomadic art exhibition, showcasing over 166 artworks by Zanele Muholi, Victor Ehikhamenor, Renzo Martens & CATPC, Michael MacGarry, Kongo Astronauts and Dodji Efoui among other African talents who break away from linear systems and invest back into their communities.

Grand Opening Weekend: September 15 – 17, 2023 On View through: December 31, 2023

African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) is proud to announce the Grand Opening Weekend of the traveling exhibition ‘Dig Where You Stand - From Coast to Coast: Seke,’ bringing together international artists, curators, partners and AAF director Azu Nwagbogu from September 15 – 17, 2023 at the Palais de Lomé in Togo. The Grand Opening Weekend will host a series of workshops, panel discussions and performances to celebrate the exhibition’s second edition, following a successful inaugural iteration in Ghana in 2022. Exploring the regenerative potential of art in Africa and its diasporas, this year’s edition explores art as a restorative medium to investigate the impact of colonial systems in coastal cities and develop new ways of addressing decolonization, restitution, and repatriation. On view through December 31, 2023, this year’s edition is held at the former colonial palace Palais de Lomé, Togo’s first major contemporary art museum, and satellite venues in various locations in Lomé. Curated by Rosemary Esinam Damalie, General Manager and Workshop Coordinator at the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Tamale, Ghana, with curatorial advisory from AAF founder Azu Nwagbogu, the exhibition will showcase over 166 artworks from various mediums, including painting, photography, video, sculptures, and installation pieces, presenting new and returning artists including Zanele Muholi, Bright Ackwerh, Joana Choumali and Victor Ehikhamenor, who break away from linear systems and invest back into their communities.

Dig Where You Stand - From Coast to Coast: Seke’ envisions a symbolic ‘Door of Return’ as a ship coming back to Africa. Using the Ewe/Eʋegbe word ‘Seke’ (meaning anchor) as a unifying symbol, the exhibition connects Lomé, Togo, to other Ewe-speaking countries, aligning with the call for African unity. Inspired by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's call for African solidarity, the exhibition explores themes of voyage, displacement, migration, and labor, while addressing the ongoing dialogue of repatriation and restitution. Presenting a multifaceted view of the African continent through visual arts, design and installations, the exhibition showcases the work of African artists with unconventional perspectives.

To broaden accessibility, mobile photo exhibitions, film screenings, and workshops will take place beyond the Palais de Lomé. These initiatives will bring replicas of the exhibition to rural areas, engaging students and teachers in workshops and presenting case studies for inspiration. Texts, captions, and audio will be translated into Ewe, ensuring the participation of local communities in the exhibition. Taking place primarily in the Palais de Lomé, a former symbol of colonial power revived into a contemporary art museum, its transformation strongly aligns with the exhibition’s commitment to decolonization through the restorative power of art. For the next six months, the space will be showcasing works by returning artists from ‘Dig Where You Stand’s inaugural edition, such as Zanele Muholi, Bright Ackwerh, Joana Choumali, Victor Ehikhamenor, Renzo Martens & CATPC, and new participating artists including Michael MacGarry, Kongo Astronauts and Dodji Efoui.

The inaugural edition of ‘Dig Where You Stand’ was conceived as more than just an exhibition. It was the beginning of a cultural experiment to explore the role of art in shifting the decolonial paradigm away from Western museums towards a location-specific, solution-oriented approach. Emphasizing on travel, migration and (dis)placement, artists and local communities examine the economies of the colonial systems that have historically marginalized vulnerable communities and find new methodologies in the art world, creating a toolkit for commencing regenerative economic processes. Held at the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Tamale, Ghana, in 2022, and at the Palais de Lomé, Togo in 2023, ‘Dig Where You Stand’ will continue its journey to other locations across Africa, from Benin and Abidjan to Dakar, Senegal tentatively from 2024 - 2026.

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