New York, NY 10013
Prompted by recent instances of violence against black African migrants in Morocco, Omar Berrada discusses an ongoing project investigating histories of trans-Saharan encounters over centuries of commercial, spiritual, and scholarly exchange when the desert looked more like a bridge than a barrier, one where cultures met and created new, creolized forms of life.
Teju Cole’s DJ lecture is an exploration of the way music, over the past 25 years, played an essential role in his personal notion of Africanness. Through a rejection of national or ethnic boundaries, he developed a sense of common cause with other Africans, in a way that had not been available to him as a Yoruba boy growing up in Lagos. African music, in all its diversity, and the way it recenters acoustic experience, has been a highly subjective locus of understanding how the past can be narrated and how the borderless future can be imagined. The talk is accompanied by musical examples from the beginning of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st, from Senegal all the way to South Africa and the diaspora.
The Revolution Won’t Be Televised (Directed by Rama Thiaw, Country: Senegal, Year: 2016). Old men who relentlessly cling to their roles as heads of state have developed negative images in many countries of Africa. When President Abdoulaye Wade wanted to run for office yet again in 2011, a resistance movement formed on the streets.
Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai (Rain the Color of Blue with A Little Red in It). (Directed by Christopher Kirkley in collaboration with Mdou Moctar and Jerome Fino
County: Niger). The first ever Tuareg language fictional film, based on the legendary rock-u-drama Purple Rain, Akounak or Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red in it explores the world of a musician trying to succeed in the raucous subculture of the Niger guitar scene. The protagonist, real life musician Mdou Moctar, must battle fierce competition from jealous musicians, overcome family conflicts, endure the trials of love, and overcome his biggest rival – himself. Carried by stunning musical performances from Mdou, the film is a window into modern day Tuareg guitar and an experiment in participatory ethnographic filmmaking.
The Performa Institute's 2017 program concludes with the residency of Kwani Trust, a Nairobi-based literary network. Kwani Trust presents Everyone is Radicalizing, an experimental subversion of its upcoming printed journal issue Kwani no. 9. The Kwani platform at Performa features an installation which includes photography, oral history, audio recordings, and film, as well as a series of public programs at the Performa Hub. Everyone is Radicalizing takes as its point of departure aspects of radicalization across East Africa with focus on the Kenyan Coast and North Eastern Kenya as a nexus of cultures, religions, and politics. The project uniquely amplifies the area’s historical and cultural context by taking a broad, exploratory look at phenomena often described in monolithic terms, such as terror, insecurity, violent extremism, and radicalization in the region and beyond.
Functioning primarily as a publishing house since 2003, Kwani Trust produces contemporary African writing, offers training opportunities, produces literary events, and has established a place for Nairobi within larger literary networks. The film selections are organized in collaboration with the African Film Festival New York.
Omar Berrada is a writer and translator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists residency in Marrakech. Previously, he curated public programs at Centre Pompidou, hosted shows on French national radio, and ran Tangier’s International Book Salon. In the past year, he edited The Africans, a book on migration and racial politics in Morocco, and curated exhibitions on the work of writer and filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani, at the Marrakech Biennale and Witte de With in Rotterdam. Currently living in New York, Omar is a co-editor of the Sharjah Biennial’s publication platform www.tamawuj.org, and the guest curator of the 2017 Abraaj Group Art Prize.
Teju Cole (b. 1975, Kalamazoo, Michigan, raised in Lagos, Nigeria) writes the column “On Photography” for the New York Times Magazine. His publications—named books of the year by the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, NPR, the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and Time—have received PEN awards, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Internationaler Literaturpreis. He exhibits, publishes, and lectures widely, including a solo exhibition at Fondazione Forma per la fotografia in Milan in 2016.
Image credit: Kwani Trust, Graphic by Michael Araka-Musa Omusi. Concept by Billy Kahora