#6 Munchen |
#10 The Interviews |
#12 Berlin |
#13 Dresden |
#16 Copenhagen |
#17 IFFR |
#18 Riga |
#19 Conceptual Art |
#20 The Swiss Issue |
#21 Aktie! |
#22 Rotterdam Art Map 1.0 |
#23 Bruxelles |
#24 Maasvlakte 2 |
#25 Douala |
#26 Rotterdam Art Map 2.0 |
#27 Tbilisi |
#28 Budget Cuts NL |
#29 Italian Issue |
#30 Rotterdam Art Map 3.0 |
#31 It’s Playtime |
#33 Rotterdam Art Map 4.0 |
#34 Arnhem Art Map |
Editorial Writing about Talking About!
Rotterdam, March 2010
What happens when we make time to talk with our peers from another country, from another continent, from another cultural context altogether? For the project Talking About!, we invited six artists and cultural practitioners from Douala (Cameroon) to travel to Rotterdam in September 2009 to gain an overview of the Dutch contemporary art scene. Part workshop, part tour, Talking About! was primarily a peer-to-peer exchange, a sequence of conversations between our Cameroonian guests and their Dutch counterparts. From the outset, we were determined that we would not predetermine the topic of conversation nor did we want to specify the outcomes of this two-week trip.
Our model for this open-ended approach was an earlier project in which we had both been involved, one as co-organizer, the other as guest. In 2007 the Rotterdam-based iStrike foundation and the organisation doual’art from Douala worked together on the event SUD Salon Urbain de Douala, a week-long festival that took place across the city, comprising a series of performances and the inauguration of many works in public space. 1 iStrike and doual’art invited a group of Dutch-based artists and curators to attend. 2 Beyond meeting members of the local art scene, there were no defined prior expectations of us, no requirements to produce something as a direct result of the trip. Within this open framework and rather improvised atmosphere, many connections were made between the Dutch visitors and their Cameroonian homologues, connections based on personal affinity, chance, timing.
One of the people we met there, Achille Atina Tah, a young cultural mediator then working for doual’art, mentioned one evening that he would be keen to see how institutions functioned in the Netherlands. This started a chain of extended conversations with other arts professionals both here and there, with funding bodies, with artists, with embassies, with visa agencies which lasted almost two years. The conclusion of those conversations was Talking About! The first week comprised a hectic schedule of visits to art institutions and cultural funding bodies.3 Interspersed amongst these visits were several public or semi-public events, which enabled us to broaden the conversation to include additional interlocutors. 4 For the second week, each of our guests worked together with a host, a carefully chosen artist, collective or institution who had been ‘match-made’ with our guests. Achille Atina Tah worked with me [Zoë Gray] at Witte de With; Ruth Belinga with Annie Fletcher and Charles Esche at the Van Abbemuseum; Goddy Leye and Hervé Youmbi with Kim Bouvy & Elian Somers at Het Wilde Weten, with David Maroto (Duende), and me [Lucia Babina] of iStrike; Lionel Manga with Emiliano Gandolfi & Alexander Vollebregt at TU Delft; and Achillekà Komguem worked with Rob Hamelijnck & Nienke Terpsma at Fucking Good Art.5
This last pairing was made as Achillekà is the founding editor of the magazine DiARTgonale and was looking for ways to develop his publication in new directions. One idea that emerged from this pairing was to create a magazine that combines the formats and readerships of the two publications. The outcome is the magazine you hold in your hands. This issue of Fucking Good Art of which we are proud to be the guest editors is designed to be inserted inside DiARTgonale. The format is adapted to fit the size of its Cameroonian sister publication, yet it retains its signature pink paper and design. The same articles that appear here in English will appear in French in DiARTgonale, with certain differences due to the differences between our editorial decisions and those of DiARTgonale’s editor.
Within the pages of Fucking Good Art Writing About! you will find the transcript of an artwork by Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, a story of one young Cameroonian’s attempt to cross the Sahara desert and make it to the promised land of Fortress Europe. As a counterpoint, artist Goddy Leye in conversation with Emiliano Gandolfi narrates his European training and how he decided to invest his career in a life-long project in the district of Bonendale in Douala. Goddy Leye and his frequent collaborator Ruth Afane Belinga each present a short text ruminating upon ideas encountered during Talking About!, in relation respectively to art and gentrification, and to the professional practice of curating. Achille Atina also explores certain ideas that came to light in Rotterdam, in his examination of public art and what it could mean in a Cameroonian context. Rob Hamelijnck and Nienke Terpsma present the transcript of their harbour tour with Achillekà Komguem and Lionel Manga. Musing together about art’s possible functions in such a massive, industrial context, their conversation ranges from the situation in Rotterdam to that in Douala. Annette Schemmel meditates upon retellings of history in the light of the 50th anniversary of Cameroonian independence, whilst Lionel Manga and Alexander Vollebregt explore what it might mean to take things to the ‘next level’.
We hope that the texts presented here in this special issue of Fucking Good Art give you a sense of the collective adventure we have experienced to date. We also hope that they form the springboard for further adventures and conversations, between the participants of Talking About!, the contributors to Writing About! and also amongst those of you whom we are yet to meet.
1 The festival Salon Urbain de Douala was part of the program SUD 2007 which was realized by iStrike and doual’art and included also the project Ars&Urbis International Workshop (Douala 2007), the publication Douala in Translation (episode publishers, Rotterdam 2007), and WideSUD (2008). For further information see www.istrike.net
2 The group consisted of Patricia Pulles (Sonsbeek 2008), Edith Rijnja (Rijksakademie), Esther Vossen (at that time De Appel), Alexander Vollebregt (TU Delft), Libia Casto & Ólafur Ólafsson - together with the authors.
3 We visited the Premsela Foundation, Platform 21, SMART Project Space, De Appel, De Bazel, Prins Claus Fonds, Das Arts, If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution (all Amsterdam); De Paviljoens (Almere); Casco and BAK (Utrecht); Stroom (The Hague); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, NAi, Nederlands Fotomuseum and Witte de With (all Rotterdam).
4 The guests presented their work at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten. The discussion I Am Public: Art and Social Change in Douala was held at Witte de With. There was a discussion session at Enough Room for Space and a drinks reception hosted by Fucking Good Art. A night of films selected by the guests was shown at WORM, titled Cameraroon! Het Wilde Weten hosted a debate about the role of local artist collectives in a global context, titled The Glocal Artist Collective. Finally, Club Attent presented Lions club international, a night of funk fusion with DJ Nemawashi in attendance.
5 Full biographies of all the guests and hosts can be found together with the detailed programme of Talking About! on the weblog: www.talkingabout-rotterdam.blogspot.com
^Lucia Babina and Zoë Gray