We are very happy to announce that AtWork New York “Where is South?” exhibition has inaugurated on June 12th at The Africa Center in New York.
The works that joined the existing “I had a dream” exhibition were created during the 5-day intensive AtWork workshop held at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Chelsea for a group of 23 young creative talents from New York, conducted by curator and AtWork advisor Simon Njami. The workshop kicked off AtWork Tour 2019 “Where is South?”.
Says Yohana Zecarias, the workshop participant, in her introduction to the exhibition’s catalogue:
“23 people came to a basement in New York City on May 30th 2019 thinking they would be given notebooks to write and explore the meaning of South. Some were artists, some were students, some were explorers and some were lost. Some spoke English, some spoke French, some spoke silence, some spoke Spanish, some spoke Pidgin and some spoke Italian. We were met by curator Simon Njami, who spoke all.
Shapeshifting between art critic and shaman, Njami posed questions that sent us back into ourselves, back to the womb, and back to South.
Where is South? We were called to interrogate the location, both literal and abstract, of a direction that has been loaded with meaning via politic and a manipulated objectivity. South is a cardinal direction, at least. At most, it is a relative starting point for our becoming. The space where we began. The place where we left. Day by day, we became the sculptors of our narrative, etching away at the layers of performance, politic, masks, and confusion that have been created and imposed by ourselves and others, obfuscating our space of origin.
What we found beyond the intellectual linguistic gymnastics was a vulnerability that shattered our complicated lies and pointed to our simple truths of being, love, life, and death. Even through disparate tongues, we were able to find each other in ourselves, to help each of us re-member what has been broken and lost.
Each piece in the exhibition is connected by a book. The book was our first material. We each used whatever tools necessary, by any means necessary, to express the South we could not see. To excavate the South that began with us.
22 people left this basement on June 3rd 2019 not with a book, but a vision and expression of their South. We were given the power of definition, and with it, we recreated stories of creation that located us as the starting point. Why do we hold onto stories and meanings that do not serve us; stories that bind and trap us? In order to be free, you must first understand what is keeping you bound.”
The exhibition, co-curated by the participants Dalaeja Foreman and Vasilis Onwuaduegbo, will stay at The Africa Center until July 21st. Check it out if in New York and stay tuned for more news on AtWork “Where is South?” Tour. Next chapter is Libreville, Gabon!