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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kenya's Sinking Venice Pavillion

At the 2013 Venice Biennale the world was  treated to the bizarre spectacle of Kenya (the country that gave the world Wangechi Mutu and Magdalene Odundo) being "prostituted" to China and Italy with a pavilion where artists from these countries greatly outnumbered Kenyan ones. As if this wasn't sufficient humiliation, despite the inevitable outpourings  of derision, critical outrage  and depositions to government ministries,  the same individuals  are set  to do a repeat performance this year. 

I think the piece of art work from the 2013 Biennale that summed up the  disgraceful 2013 enterprise most successfully  was the main instigator, Armando Tanzini's carved African woman. This piece (most likely not carved by him as he is in the habit of paying African artists to produce work for him under questionable ethical circumstances) seems to  hint at his relationship with Africa. The unfortunate woman lies prostrate on the floor with her well rounded "African bottom" raised invitingly for someone to take advantage of. 

The antics displayed through this pavilion inadvertently spotlighted the African realities of ruthless and irresistible foreign influence in pursuit of resources, exploitation, political, financial,moral and sexual corruption, collusion, impunity  and a failure to value ones own people/assets. 

In Venice this May it seems the world will be presented with the same unconscious exposé and meditation on negative aspects of Kenya and  it's continent. On the other hand - if action is taken it may it not be fanciful to imagine that viewers will be looking at an empty pavilion  with large signs stating " CLOSED BY PUBLIC DEMAND"?.

Monday, March 16, 2015

African Contemporary and Modern Art Auction 2pm, 26th March online via London's The Auction Room


100 x 63 cm Executed in 2010,  Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000
Check out  latest auction with The Auction Room here . Works from all over the African continent and some from the Diaspora - from London to Trinidad. Prices range from £300 to just under £30,000.  

This sale presents a great opportunity to bid for highly sought after works by Maimouna Guerresi, Fabrice Monteiro, Goncarlo Mabunda, Pascale Mathine Tayou, Ablade Glover  and many others at  favourable prices.

Selected works  will be on view at Mallet, 37 Dover Street, London W1S 4NJ from 19th - 26th March 2015 10am - 5pm, Mon - Fri (weekends by appointment).

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mario Macilau: The Road Not Taken

Mario Macilau Advert JPEG
The brilliant Mozambican photographer, Mario Macilau arrives in London next week for his first U.K. solo show, The Road Not Taken. This follows  his participation in The Saatchi Gallery’s first Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America exhibition  last year. His new show contains a collection of powerful images from two major series The Price of Cement and Out of Town.
Most of Macilau’s work is concerned with representing the plight of marginalised people but what makes his images so powerful and so haunting is the absence of voyeurism and intrusion that is the back story of many photographs that are in the public domain. Here there is a palpable sense of trust between photographer and subject. Macilau’s explicit aim is to allow his models to tell their stories. The results may be harrowing but they invariably invoke a sense of shared humanity.
Cement girl
Mário Macilau | Untitled (5) | The Cement Series | C-Print | 80 x 120cm | Edition of 6 plus AP £2,000 courtesy of Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd and the Auction Room. .
His Price of Cement images portray workers in illegal cement bagging operations – working at night in lethal environmental conditions.

His Out of Town works focus on neglected communities – the image below is of a Maasai man taken in Kenya in 2014.
tribesman  copy
Mário Macilau | Untitled (1), Out of Town Series | 2014 | | C-Print | 80 x 120cm | Edition of 6 plus AP £2,000 courtesy of Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd and The Auction Room
Mario Macilau: The Road not Taken, 23rd March – 10th April, is at Mallet, 37 Dover Street,  W1S 4NJ