A profound love for words and images shape Pascale Obolo’s world and artistic output. Hailing from Cameroon and raised in Paris, this prolific creative works between publishing, journalism and cinematography. Bureau N met with her in Basel during the I Never Read art book fair where she’s the first exhibitor to represent independent publishers from Africa. As the founder of the African Art Book Fair and the contemporary art journal AFRIKADAA, Obolo seeks to foster artistic voices from Africa, offering them increased visibility and a platform for widespread discourse.
Pascale Obolo with one of her colleagues
When did you establish the African Art Book Fair?
It’s a very young project. We started in 2016 at the Dakar Biennale, but before that we founded AFRIKADAA, an art journal created by a collective of artists, art critics and book lovers. The idea is to present each issue’s content in an actual exhibition space. We want to have a platform where we can show the artists we collaborate with whether they are from different parts of Africa or the diaspora. Most national museums are not interested in showcasing this kind of artists, they go for safer choices. So the journal acts as a sort of laboratory and a curatorial exercise. Also, we invite various writers from around the world to contribute, and thus the result is a great mix of academic writing, clearly journalistic pieces, and experimental texts.
How did your collaboration with I Never Read come about?
INR is the one who found me and initially we were thinking of joining forces during the Art Paris fair but unfortunately we didn’t manage to get financial backing. Then later on, we picked up the discussion again and they invited me to talk about the projects I’ve been involved in and introduce them to indie publishers from Africa — a completely unknown scene to them. It’s the first time that an African publisher is exhibited at the fair, so that’s very interesting.
What kind of books did you bring with you this time for the fair?
We selected three books (award-winning artist Marc Johnson with lacune féconde, books by artist Sammy Baloji from Galerie Imane Farès and others) and as well as the upcoming issue of AFRIKADAA, which will be out in September 2017. We publish three issues per year plus one special edition. Last year we collaborated with the Centre Pompidou for their group show “Museum On/Off”. The museum gave us a carte blanche to propose ways on how to reinvent the museum in the future. I suggested a fictional museum including artists that I knew the Centre Pompidou had never exhibited before. We decided to do an extension of what we did there and create “paper museum” of sorts for the special issue.
How many publishers did the African Art Book Fair have first?
Not that many, maybe 25. From different places in Africa. We also invited three artists from South Africa who use the book as their artistic medium.
What would a potential collaboration between the African Art Book Fair and I Never Read look like next year?
We actually have plenty of ideas. For the next edition of the fair in Dakar in May 2018, we’re thinking of doing an exchange with Basel and mixing publishers from the north with publishers from the south. It will be more of an artistic project and we’ll question the role and existence of fairs in the contemporary world. Why are there so many nowadays? And what purpose do they serve, especially for independent initiatives.
Running parallel to Art Basel, the annual Swiss Art Awards exhibition, organized and conceived by the Federal Office of Culture since 1899, provides a representative overview and unique insight into contemporary art and architecture in Switzerland. It shows the works of the artists that have been invited to the second round of the Swiss Competition for Art and Architecture, and aims to encourage the cultural movers and shakers originating from Switzerland. A definitive index for art professionals and art lovers alike.
Aiming to foster the notable art publishing community worldwide, the annual I Never Read, Art Book Fair is back in Basel for the sixth time. What started as a platform for experimental publishing and printed matter straddling the line between art object and reading material, has now become an integral part of the renowned Art Basel week. More than 130 publishers, authors, artists and designers from more than twenty countries will present their art and artist books, catalogues, monographs, rare editions, magazines and zines from the fields of art, photography, graphic design and architecture. This time around, fair-goers will have the opportunity to also see projects from Latin America and Africa: from works by publishers specializing in risographs, independent books by Latin American artists, and conceptual editions all the way to niche magazines turning the spotlight to African photography and small local publishers. Like every year, the fair will be accompanied by a radio station hosting talks about zine culture and the world of publishing within the arts.
Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntags SYNTH im Tieranatomischen Theater
Built in 1790, the Tieranatomisches Theater (Veterinary Anatomy Theatre) is the oldest still-existing academic building in Berlin. Since 2013, the Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik has used the venue as an experimental exhibition space. Based on research and teaching at the Humboldt-Universität, the programming is dedicated to an interdisciplinary investigation of material cultures of knowledge, and to new practices in displaying them.
SYNTH, an installation on the phantasm of sound and music synthesis by the artist, composer and researcher Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag, is one such investigation. Shown and heard throughout the Theater’s seven rooms, technical and aesthetic objects connect the 19th century’s physiology to Neue Musik, media theory of the 20th century, and contemporary experimental music. For Sonntag, sound art is spacial art, a form that addresses the percipient’s whole body. Space itself becomes corporeal as well: turning the classical anatomy theater into a Rausch-Körper (“body of noise”), the artist composed the three-act chamber opera SINUS especially for the venue’s unique architecture. There will be held a number of discussions, workshops and events regarding the exhibited objects and instruments. All the while, Sonntag’s radio opera RUNDFUNK AETERNA – a work commissioned by Documenta 14 – will be broadcasted worldwide. Sonntag developed his own special circuits for RUNDFUNK AETERNA, and, in the tradition of Marinetti, Arnheim and Brecht, investigates the radio and (radio wave) as a form.
Refuting the idea of linear time, the 10th-century Arab thinkers of Kalam theorised the radical freedom of every single ‘now’. For the sake of God’s creative freedom, they demanded the dissociation of the present moment from the chains of cause and effect, and their ancient theories of ‘cut-up’ give rise to Fragments From Our Beautiful Future. Contemporary Interventions in The Bumiller Collection #3. The exhibition presents the work of Jerusalem-born Steve Labella and Berlin-based Rebecca Raue in a constellation with ancient chess pieces and Persian mirrors from the Bumiller Collection, dating from the 11th to the 17th century. In his series 38 Days of Re-Collection, Sabella imprints black & white photographs upon colored shards of paint, peeled off the walls of houses in the Old City of Jerusalem. Resembling ancient artifacts, the fifteen fragments present a unique archive of personal and collective memory, of home and displacement. Raue’s Kalila wa Dimna series uses acryl and mixed media to intervene in 18th-century illuminated manuscripts printed on aluminum composite panels. A dense layer of commentary is created on the colourful illustrations, and the artist develops a visual language that draws inspiration from the Lettrist appeal of the underlying Arabic texts.
top work by Steve Sabella / bottom works by Rebecca Raue
Images by Anders Sune Berg
“Darkness dissolves form and is the void out of which all things arise.
Therefore, unlearning can be a positive force of progress.” – Kirstine Roepstorff
Developed by visual artist Kirstine Roepstorff for the Danish Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia — 57th International Art Exhibition, the project influenza. theatre of glowing darkness challenges viewers to embrace darkness as a positive force of healing, transformation, and empowerment. The exhibition explores the metamorphosis that occurs between the destruction of the known and the embrace of the new. The title influenza contains dual meaning: in Italian it means “to influence,” in English it’s a common viral disease. If flu—as metaphor for the 21st century condition—is spread through social contact, its antidote may also be found in its own logic of person-to-person transmission: each individual’s ability to make affective choices, the grassroots power to influence change. It’s conceived as both symptom and cure. influenza consists of an immersive spatial theatre experience and a structural intervention in the pavilion and surrounding gardens. The large-scale installation uses light projections, glass, sound and a recorded dialogue between three disembodied protagonists: Dark River, Midwife, and Seed, to explore darkness as a condition of reconciliation.
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture soon presents the seventeenth Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim to three outstanding Swiss culture practitioners: conceptual artist Daniela Keiser works with the media of photography and language, which she translates into different exhibition and presentation formats. Peter Märkli’s architecture, teachings and drawings are widely recognised and particularly valued by the younger generation of architects. The author and curator Philip Ursprung is honored for his cross-disciplinary research in history, art and architecture. The Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim was founded in 2001 by the Federal Office of Culture in collaboration with the Federal Art Commission. It honors figures from the worlds of art and architecture as well as criticism, curation and research whose work is of particular relevance and importance for contemporary art and architecture in Switzerland and beyond. The laureates, and this year’s winners of the Swiss Art Awards, will receive their accolades on June 12th, 2017, in Basel. The exhibition SWISS ART AWARDS, which showcases the participants in the second round of the Swiss Art Competition, also includes film portraits of the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim 2017 recipients.
left: Daniela Keiser, Out of the Blue (1998/2016) Installation Nr. 10. Installation view Kunsthalle Vebikus, Schaffhausen (2016). Courtesy of the artist and STAMPA Galerie, Basel © Daniela Keiser. Photo: Daniela Keiser // middle: Peter Märkli’s La Congiunta, Giornico 1992. Photo: Heinrich Helfenstein // right: Cover of the new book by Philip Ursprung ‘Der Wert der Oberfläche – Essays zu Architektur, Kunst und Ökonomie’. gta Verlag, 2017. // Portraits by Katalin Deér / BAK, 2017.
Gallery Weekend Berlin is a celebration of the galleries and serves as a culmination of their year-round activity. As they discover artists, maintain lasting relationships with them, and continually promote and disseminate their work worldwide, the galleries are a point of contact for curators, critics, and collectors. Sprawled across 47 spaces in the city, easy to find with the Gallery Weekend Map.
All from Instagram Gallery Weekend
piece by Tomás Saracena (2017) and installation by Diana Sirianni
How do political and economic interests shape the urban environment? Which boundaries and power structures are encoded in it? In Between Spaces, 15 artists examine questions and contradictions found in urban life. The exhibition places work by Gordon Matta-Clark and perspectives on East Berlin into a dialogue with current artistic positions. The featured artists appropriate unused spaces and lend new forms to the inconspicuous spaces in-between. From 1970s New York to 1980s East Berlin and the global village of today, various frames of reference are brought together with the notion of urban space acting as the social, artistic and political hub of a society. Artistic positions on urbanism and public space, with Gordon Matta-Clark, Isa Melsheimer, Sabine Peuckert, Andrea Pichl, Diana Sirianni, Annemirl Bauer, Sibylle Bergemann, Simon Faithfull, Antje Fretwurst-Colberg, Brigitte Fugmann, Raumlabor, Marjetica Potrc, KUNSTrePUBLIK, Tomás Saraceno, and Ursula Strozynski.
Simon Faithfull, 0o00 Navigation Part2 – A Journey Across Europe and Africa, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Polaris, Paris / Andrea Pichl, “Bau auf, bau auf.” 2010-2017. Courtesy the artist and Krome Gallery / Gordon Matta Clark, Splitting, 1974 Courtesy of the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark & Galerie Thomas Schulte