From 24 February to 30 June 2022, Officine dell'Immagine is hosting the AFRICAN VOICES group in the Milanese space, curated by Silvia Cirelli, a composite project entirely dedicated to the complex and multifaceted African artistic panorama.
Safaa Erruas (Morocco, '76), mounir fatmi (Morocco, '70), Maïmouna Guerresi (Italy-Senegal, '51) and Kyle Weeks (Namibia, '92) are the interpreters of this talented and versatile set-up, a lively and dynamic stage that, as shown by the increasingly constant international attention, is experiencing a period of considerable creative excitement.
The plural in the title - voices – is meant to underline how erroneously too often a forced geographical and generational specificity is used, circumscribing, or worse still ghettoising, cultural universes that are in reality extremely variegated and heterogeneous. For several years, Officine dell'Immagine has been focusing on this multifaceted panorama, and AFRICAN VOICES has proved to be a timely exploration of the current scenario, proposing original works that have never been exhibited in Italy. Beyond simple cultural rhetoric, the intention is to provide a point of reflection on local aesthetic realities, consolidating new interpretations and enhancing their multidisciplinarity: as demonstrated by the different languages adopted by the artists involved, whose works can range from videos to installations, from photography to sculpture.
The four artists selected are internationally known and stand out for their mature and effective aesthetic appeal. Safaa Erruas was one of the protagonists of the Moroccan Trilogy exhibition, which recently concluded at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid; the famous skateboards by mounir fatmi - some examples of which are on display here - are currently exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in New York; Maïmouna Guerresi, will soon be at the Kyoto International Photography Festival in Tokyo; and Kyle Weeks, who won the Magnum Photography Awards in 2016, continues to attract the attention of countless magazines such as Vogue, Self Service Magazine or M Le magazine du Monde.
The works that Safaa Erruas is presenting in Milan intertwine grace and pain, emotion and danger, in a game of mirrors where the apparent charm is broken, to make way for dangerous items taken from daily life. Needles, broken glass, sharp syringes or wires condense behind the illusion of delicate and innocent installations, like a double-edged sword that seduces and then betrays the viewer.
Always a witness to the complex socio-cultural fabric of contemporary life, mounir fatmi stands out thanks to her stylistic approach that is able to relate to highly topical issues such as identity, multiculturalism, the ambiguities of language and the importance of communication as a social thermometer of human development. Translating the precariousness of a historical moment marked by a sense of vulnerability and collective uprooting, fatmi leads the narrative towards the synthesis of an authentic emotional landscape.
A multifaceted artist with an incisive poetic force, Maïmouna Guerresi creates an allusive dialogue between European and African culture, placing the accent on a hybrid lexical register, a combination of mystical references, expressive metaphors and thaumaturgical influences. On the absoluteness of the constant passage between earthly energy and interior contemplation, Guerresi recovers the symbolism of the body, as an allegory of the inner dimension. Gesture, colour, the choice of clothes and scenarios build an instant immortalised in its complex elaboration, an instant that gives the characters in the shots an almost ethereal monumentality, suspended between reality and transcendence.
Kyle Weeks, on the other hand, focuses his research on the overturning of aesthetic stereotypes, transferring attention to the dimension of the viewer and giving life to new and authentic representations of reality, far from the clichés that sometimes define contemporary culture. Strongly influenced by the dynamics of reportage, but also by fashion photography, Weeks surprises with a personal style that enhances the individuality and creativity of the younger African generations.
SAFAA ERRUAS was born in Tétouan (Morocco) in 1976, where she currently lives and works. She graduated from the Institut National des Beaux-Arts in Tétouan. Her portfolio contains numerous exhibitions in important foreign museums, such as Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, Liverpool (Australia), the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Museo de arte Contemporaneo Castilla y León, the Muhka Museum in Antwerp, the Kunstforening in Oslo, the Musée de Marrakech, the Musée départemental de Rochechouart, the MoCADA Museum in New York, the Institut de Monde Arabe in Paris or the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Musac de Leon and the CAAM of Palma de Canarias; as well as participating in festivals and biennials, such as the recent Havana Biennale (2015), the Alexandria Biennial (2010) and the Dak'Art Biennial (2006 and 2002).
mounir fatmi was born in 1970 in Tangier (Morocco), and currently lives and works between Paris and Tangier. She has had numerous exhibitions in important foreign museums, such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the Georges Pompidou Centre, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and the MAXXI in Rome; as well as in festivals and biennials, such as the Venice Biennale (2007 and 2017), the Sharjah Biennial (2007), the Dakar Biennial (in 2002 and 2006), the Bamako Biennial (2015 and 2017), Lyon (2009), the 5th Gwangju Biennial (2004) and the 5th Auckland Triennial in 2013. Her works are also displayed in major public collections, including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création, Paris, the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. fatmi has also received numerous awards such as the Silver Plane Prize at the Altai Biennial in Moscow (2020), the Cairo Biennial Prize (2010), the Uriöt Prize, Amsterdam and the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor of the Dakar Biennial in 2006. In 2013, she was nominated for the Jameel Prize of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Maïmouna Guerresi was born in Vicenza (Italy) in 1951. She currently lives and works between Italy and Senegal. She has participated in numerous exhibitions both in important international museums, such as the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, the Smithsonian African Art Museum in Washington, the KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, the MACAAL Museum in Marrakech, the Cultural Institute of Islam ICI in Paris, the National Museum of Sharjah and the National Museum of Bamako; as well as in festivals and biennials, such as the Venice Biennial, Documenta, Les Rencontres de Bamako, the Dak'Art Biennial, Manifesta, 13th Cairo Biennale and the International Festival of Photography in Bangladesh. Her works also feature in major public collections, such as at the Smithsonian African Art Museum in Washington, the LACMA Museum in Los Angeles and the MIA Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Kyle Weeks was born in Namibia in 1992 and studied at the Stellenbosch Academy, where he graduated in Photography in 2013. He currently lives and works between Amsterdam and Cape Town. In 2016 he won the Magnum Photography Award and his work was included in the 2017 IPF Photo Prize in London. In 2014, he was also selected for the Mack First Book Awards, while in 2019, he was selected for the British Journal of Photography. His work has also been featured in leading publications such as the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Time Magazine and The New York Times.