PRESS RELEASE 10 May 2000
CONTINENTAL SHIFT - A CROSS-CULTURAL JOURNEY
African artists in Europe
CONTINENTAL SHIFT - A CROSS-CULTURAL JOURNEY is a joint project set up by four museums in the Dutch-Belgian-German border region. The project focuses on the works of Asian, African and Latin American artists who live and work in Europe. One of the participating museums, the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, will present an exhibition of African artists who are part of a generation that developed under the continuous influence of Western art centres and modern art history. These artists present alternative models, maps and stories to dominant European opinions and views of art - the products of their shifting between the African and the European experience. The themes they address range from the social value of art, the post-modern city, alienation, hybrididity, and cultural and economic globalisation to national, ethnic and sexual identity. The work of these artists brought all these issues to the foreground in the nineties. The exhibition will run from 21 May to 10 September.
The artists, who left Africa either voluntarily or involuntarily, belong to a world in which the old boundaries of space and time have disappeared, the legacy of global expansion, the democratisation of travel and new communication technologies. All these things have led to hyperactivity and a highly complex reality in which different "worlds" meet. In her astounding wall decorations, executed on a grand scale, Mary Evans analyses the power of cultural codes in our modern European reality, adding much irony and humour to her interpretation. She created a special installation for the exhibition entitled "Scope"; here, she explores typically Western ways of perceiving, receiving and representing. Two other artists who make us aware of how culturally determined the Western way of looking and imagining is are Ghada Amer and Yinka Shonibare. Using typical, everyday means of expression, Amer has designed a feminine, erotic language in her embroidered paintings that is suppressed in the Arab tradition. One of the better known works in the exhibition is "Double Dutch" (1994) by Yinka Shonibare. It consists of fifty paintings that explore the ideology of the post-colonial world and the politics of the art market. In short, it is a work that addresses a theme that is indispensable in an exhibition about contemporary contributions by non-western artists to the developments in modern art in Europe.
In addition to Yinka Shonibare's somewhat older paintings and works by Ina van Zyl and Andries Botha which have been exhibited elsewhere, CONTINENTAL SHIFT in Maastricht will also include new works produced especially for the exhibition. Meschac Gaba will present a new "department" of his museum project "Museum for Contemporary African Art"; Fernando Alvim has been asked to produce a work that offers an understanding of the artist's own field of work and that encompasses much more than what is normally meant by the label "visual artist"; Everlyn Nicodemus shows apart from her series "From the book 'Room'" new three-dimensional collages or "nettings"; Kendell Geers has produced a new video installation and Barthélémy Toguo has conceived a new, gallery-filling wall installation called "The Unfinished Theatre".
For information about the joint project and the various exhibitions, please visit www.continentalshift.org.
Meschac Gaba will stage a performance in the Bonnefantenmuseum's Grand Café during the opening event on 21 May.
The pressconference will take place in Maastricht on 17 May at 3.00 p.m. in Maastricht