ColabNowNow

ColabNowNow 2019 brought together 11 outstanding artists and storytellers from Africa and the UK.

The artists were selected from an open-call on the basis of their strength of practice, commitment to collaboration and willingness to share their skills.

An intense and challenging learning experience for all, ColabNowNow was highly collaborative.

Hear the artists talk about the creative collaboration process

The artists co-created work with and in response to one another and in response to one another, work which explored gender, safe spaces and the relationship between the digital and physical.

The artists began their experience in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the Fak'ugesi African Digital Innovation festival in September 2019, culminating in a brand new exhibition - Traces and Spaces - at Maputo Fast Forward Festival in Mozambique.

Their work is sure to challenge, spark discussion and emotionally resonate with its audiences.

Welcome to the exhibition

Ghana:
Kwasi Darko

HERE AND NOW

By our very genetic makeup we should be fluid. We are half water and water does not resist, water flows. However, restrictions are placed on bodies and how they should interact with each other. From intimacy and emotions, we are conditioned to conform to specific gender roles and confinements.

What happens then when one flows fluidly through contemporary and traditional African spaces in a non-normative expression of gender and identity? What is the outcome to self and to society?

In my work I seek to explore this notion through the use of body movements and interaction.

Artist Lindsey Abudei, from Nigeria, collaborated with Kwasi to produce a track 'Wind' to accompany the work.

and there is no place for us
in heaven
or hell

the earth
or the stars

all been occupied
reserved

your home occupied
your land occupied
your body occupied

there is no room for us
no space for us
no love for us

or perhaps there was none

we are the ones
who carved their way
through stone

by fire
and water
and earth

by winds to storms

we are the reason
the universe needs to
expand

we do not need or want
your need
your love
your acceptance

we just need the space
and we have plans for what we can do with it
-vacuum

Text on image reads: You are about to enter a safe space to experience the latent music in the self
Text on image reads: You are about to enter a safe space to experience the latent music in the self

Tanzania, Tunisia and Egypt:
Arafa C. Hamadi and Shirin Khlif and Mouazi

SAFE SPACES

Safe spaces are defined as communities that instil specific rules and guidelines that protect its marginalised members from prejudice and microaggressions. Artists, specifically those who are part of marginalised communities, are deserving of spaces that respond to their creation processes and performances.


Arafa C. Hamadi and Shirin Khlif:
Spacial Confessions

Spacial Confessions is a collaboration between Arafa C. Hamadi and Shirin Khlif in the frame of their Safe Spaces project.

Arafa C. Hamadi

To create this space, I first began with imagining the form of sound or idea reverberating outwards from a single point – a form similar to that made after a stone is dropped into water. From this form, I imagined a maze-like space that could be inhabited at various points by the sound artist.

The final structure that you walk through is a literal narrative, taking you from the most outward point of the mind into the creative centre then out again, attempting a play between transparency/openness and the solidity/confinement of creation.

Shirin Khlif

Sound is something that I understood and felt without training, it was a part of who I am.

This sound installation is an invitation to catch the variety of sounds and noises of infinite space...to listen to the sounds as they are and to connect to the hidden music that lays inside yourself.

Using a series of soundscape composition, composed with digital sounds and 3D binaural sounds - the listener is teleported to other places, realities and moments captured through memory.

Listeners immersed inside the sound installation.

Listeners immersed inside the sound installation.

Listeners get comfortable inside the sound installation.

Listeners get comfortable inside the sound installation.

While creating, I focused on field recording along with minimal and concrete music composition in a minimalist space. Let the sounds carry you to a new level of listening and discovery; converging memory of space with spaces of memory.

Mouazi and Arafa C. Hamadi:
Prefer Not To Say

Prefer Not to Say installation is a collaboration between Mouazi and Arafa C. Hamadi in the frame of the Safe Spaces project

Mouazi

I attempt to explore what the allocation of gender, and how humans, who are otherwise born within the non-normative parts of the gender spectrum, are directed towards one of the more appreciated/accepted binaries.

We propose that gender is imposed through a form of shaping and chiseling of a person’s own identity by their surrounding environment.

Family, schools, society and even the state are often active participants in enforcing gender norms. Accordingly, a person’s whole world becomes distorted and affected by what seems to be the global reality.

Mouazi perfoming their spoken word piece at Maputo Fast Forward festival.

Mouazi perfoming their spoken word piece at Maputo Fast Forward festival.

The digital space has the capacity to interrupt this process by proposing the alternate world view through literal narrative and asking the audience to engage with the artist(s) outside the presumptions of the gendered world.

Arafa C. Hamadi

While working with Mouazi, I realised very quickly that the narrative and creation process of their poetry resonated entirely with my own story as a queer and gender non-conforming person.

Installation by Arafa C. Hamadi as part of Prefer Not To Say.

Installation by Arafa C. Hamadi as part of Prefer Not To Say.

With this in mind, I created a safe space that I would also feel comfortable working and existing within – a blank canvas that one can only imagine from outside but can fully experience within before swiftly being pushed away.

As queer people we deserve to inhabit spaces that do not particularly cater to the needs of the cisgender and heterosexual community, as this space is a literal gesture towards defining how queer art/poetry can be presented.

Uganda:
Isabella Assimwe

OHA

I'm intrigued by this concept of the future. There’s liberation in knowledge of how critical thinking in present time interlinks the threads of the past with those of the future.

My work explores these relationships using pattern and textile as the site of investigation for times to come.

Oha? Ori oha? Translates as Who? Who are you? It is the search for a deeper understanding of self, expressed as a series of poetically textured stories brought to life; digitally in the reinterpretation of African pattern and physically by taking us on three African women’s journey towards actualisation; mind, body, spirit through the lens of their native textile.

Ivory Coast:
Keren Lasme

COSMIC DANCE

"Music is a spiritual thing"
Fela Kuti

The Cosmic Dance is a visual and sonic journey into the psyche. It explores the idea of music as being a spiritual instrument and its ability to alter consciousness and allow access to the divine plane.

Behind the scenes shot of artist Keren putting together her exhibition piece at her desk

Behind the scenes: artist Keren putting together her exhibition piece.

Behind the scenes: artist Keren putting together her exhibition piece.

Through the use of symbolic aesthetic like sacred geometry and gold, The Cosmic Dance asks us to expand our consciousness and imagine what lies behind the veil once the communication between the physical and spiritual realms is established.

UK:
Joe Beedles

ETON PALAVRA

I work with audio, video and lights. With a background in electronic music, I create gallery installations that see the removal of myself as the role of performer and instead allow autonomous systems to generate content from algorithms or pre-set rules; where audio elements trigger lighting and projections simultaneously.

Eton Palavra is a layered project. It includes research on how personal stories and their embedded messages and meanings often become lost in translation or misinterpreted when recommunicated in a variety of contexts across a range of different meta physical and digital platforms.

The ambiguous narrative weaved from these encounters captured throughout the ColabNowNow residency comments on and is a direct reflection of how communication breaks down through the inherent processes of speech dictation and translation apps.

Malawi:
kyle malanda

ABSENTIA

My sister’s death made me start thinking about how the digital age is changing the way we grieve, the way lives and histories are recorded, and what it means to, essentially, immortalise ourselves on the internet.

I wanted to explore what it means to lose someone in a time of accessible and democratised historical record keeping.

Close up of artist Kyle assembling her work for the exhibition at Maputo Fast Forward.

Artist Kyle assembling her work for the exhibition at Maputo Fast Forward.

Artist Kyle assembling her work for the exhibition at Maputo Fast Forward.

This work speaks of both her physical absence and digital presence where words have consistently failed me. All the collages in this series are made with pictures and posts from my sister’s Facebook page.

Mozambique:
Lara de Sousa

DARE IT!

As a young Mozambican filmmaker, I combine my political vision with a poetic language, searching for a 'non-place' between Mozambique and other realities.

'Dare It!' is my first interactive piece, where I’m inviting people to project the abstract identity of their cities, awakening their desires, fears, and dreams. This is my way of seeking a new aesthetic along with ethical ways to portray individual narratives - putting the subjects in the centre of their own choices.

Nigeria:
Lindsey Abudei

ATHENA

I'm interested in human experiences in every sphere — my personal ones and of those around me. I'm about (finding) freedom — in our selves, our stories, our conversations, our lives and our communion with each other.

Athena is a stream of immersive sounds that are a tribute to those who are not spoken for, to those who feel invisible — as a woman, as a being, as a human.

You exist in this space — in this warm, transcendent space — bask in it.

I made it for us.

South Africa:
Sandile Mohlongo

THE LABYRINTH

I create interactive art that attempts to help people deal with anxiety, self doubt and to induce a calm state with a hint of mysticism.

Object 123 [A Potential Cure for Stress and Anxiety] is symbolic of a journey to our own centre and back again out into the world. This Sacred space will attempt to help you connect with yourself, quiet your mind and heal.

The artists work together to assemble The Labyrinth.

Close up of the construction of The Labyrinth.

Close up of the construction of The Labyrinth.

Sandile sitting at the centre of The Labyrinth at Maputo Fast Forward Festival.

Sandile sitting at the centre of The Labyrinth at Maputo Fast Forward Festival.

Instructions 1. Take a deep breath and follow the path 2. Close your eyes and take a fortune. 3. Repeat fortune as you walk out.

Object 123 can also be used as a meditation and prayer tool.

The artists work together to assemble The Labyrinth.

The artists work together to assemble The Labyrinth.

Close up of the construction of The Labyrinth - white pebbles arranged on the ground in a semicircle.

Close up of the construction of The Labyrinth.

Close up of the construction of The Labyrinth.

Take a look at the final ColabNowNow exhibition at Maputo Fast Forward Festival 2019.

Take a look at the final ColabNowNow exhibition at Maputo Fast Forward Festival 2019.

Acknowledgments

ColabNowNow is a project by the British Council sub-Saharan Africa Arts developed in partnership with the Fak'ugesi Festival in 2017, with Maputo Fast Forward in 2018, and with Fak'ugesi and Maputo Fast Forward in 2019.

Thank you to our facilitators Valerie Amani and Will Hurt who supported the ColabNowNow creatives with the artistic and technical development of the works.

Special thanks to Maputo Fast Forward (Raquel Nobre and Filomena Mairosse), Fak'ugesi Festival (Tegan Bristow and Christa Dee) and to the tireless producer Jess White.