Spread the joy of experiencing contemporary African art from the comfort of your home.

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Billie ZANGEWA Soldier of Love , 2020, Soie brodée / Embroidered silk ©Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels
Billie ZANGEWA, Soldier of Love, 2020, Soie brodée / Embroidered silk © Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels


Welcome to the first of #Artinthetimeofcovid19 series.

Let’s face it: things are rather grim in the world right now. The death toll caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge. Meanwhile, businesses and public spaces have had to shut down as part of an extensive set of sanitary measures designed to contain the disease. These measures are saving our lives while sadly endangering our livelihood. And now, ongoing confinement has started taking its toll on people’s mental health.

We can’t change this gloomy climate. However, we can create within it, a virtual space of escapism: one that transports us into studios, exhibition spaces, or into gripping visual tales. #Artinthetimeofcovid19 is a budding thread that emerges from this place. And with each artist featured, it is curling, unfolding, extending to connect us to what we love, art, from the comfort and safety of our home.

We will endeavour to make the series #Artintimeofcovid19a weekly digital rendezvous. A spirited way to stave off isolation and remain engaged. We will navigate through Contemporary African Art, Black culture, art history, and any compelling recorded material. In the spirit of cooperation, feel free to submit an idea or digital find of your own. We will, of course, give you full credit.

Billie Zangewa – Soldier of Love – 3.03 min

In times of fear, rancour, and divisive public discourse, Billie Zangewa’s silk-based artworks extol a radical response: Love. Not love as a simple and naïve sentiment but as gestures and attitudes that activate healing and help to transcend trauma. The exhibition at Galerie Templon in Paris is temporarily closed, but you can catch a glimpse of it here.


Group Show – Croyances: faire et défaire l’invisible (tentatively translated as Beliefs: encrypt and decode the invisible) – Self paced

Let’s linger in Paris and head to the Institute for Islamic Cultures to see the virtual exhibition “Croyances, faire et défaire l’invisible” (tentatively translated here as Beliefs: encrypt and decode the invisible). It is a visual meandering through African mythologies, belief systems, and a broad investigation of the connection between our material world and the invisible world. Far from serving a vision of a static past, these artworks also reframe the concept of faith, and what is held sacred. The recorded sacred song dedicated to Wi-fi (in French) is a timely and ironic inclusion in the show curated by Jeanne Mercier, who also co-curated Macaal’s inaugural exhibition Africa is No Island in Marrakech in 2018.

There is no denying that the immersive 3D experience reaches its limits with such an expansive show spread over a multi-story building. However, what we lose in terms of a cohesive view of the exhibition, is made up for with the ability to zoom in closely into each work. If you are lost at some point during the navigation, click on the icons of the floor plan or the dollhouse (lower-left corner) to get your bearings back.


Institut des Cultures de l'Islam
Institut des Cultures de l’Islam – Croyances: faire et défaire l’invisible

Faustin Linyekula – Our Bodies, Our Archives – 1:05 hr

“Suddenly, we are reminded of our fragility, how fragile our lives are” it is with these timely and poignant words that Congolese artist Faustin Linyekula opened his unique performance “My Body, My Archive.” It was recorded at the last minute in lieu of “BMW Tate Live,” a series of performances by three artists, canceled due to the closure of the Museum. The hour-long performance makes tangible imprints history leaves on bodies, and questions out loud, how people can construct their identities when their history has been “left in ruin.”


Afronauts – Short Film – 14.04 min

An endearing story that is seldom known, let alone shared, is that of the Zambian science teacher Edward Mukuka Nkoloso who launched a space program to rival that of the US and the Soviet Union in the mid-sixties. The program only went as far as recruiting a young team called Afronauts before disbanding, making headlines and attracting in the process, an unhealthy dose of scorn. However, even if the program floundered, its real, albeit belated, success lies in the way it is capturing the imagination of a young generation of filmmakers and artists intrigued by the dreams and aspirations of Nkoloso. Afronauts is a short fictionalized film by Vernac Media inspired by Nkoloso’s project.


Tate Shots – Artist Zineb Sedira – 5:51 min

Last month, London based French Algerian artist Zineb Sedira became the first Algerian woman nominated to represent France at Venice Biennale. The announcement sparked protests over her support for the Palestinian cause. She has refuted some of the accusations in a recent statement published in The Art Newspaper. Sidestepping the controversies, here is the artist, in her own words, giving an insight into her work at the confluence of history, memory, and transmission in a 2017 Tate Shots.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye – 4:13 min

With the coronavirus pandemic upon our shores, it remains to be seen whether Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s first survey due to open at Tate Britain in May will go ahead as planned. While we await further clarifications, here is a short interview of the artist explaining how the fictional subjects on her canvas are brought to life.


Inside My Studio – Njideka Akunyili Crosby – 3:53 min

In this episode of “Inside My Studio,” Njideka Akunyili Crosby doesn’t actually take the viewer into her studio (find out why in the video). Instead, the Nigerian American artist gives an insight into her practice, why it is essential to go to the studio every day and finishes with her thoughts on the astronomical price tag attached to her work.

Let’s stay connected and make sure confinement doesn’t turn into isolation. We are keen to know what you make of this first episode. We will go back to the drawing board if you think we have fallen short. So feel free to let us know what you would like to see more of or less of?

We are looking forward to connecting virtually with you around the second iteration of #Artinthetimeofcovid19.

Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Connected via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Obatala Team.


Note: there was a spelling mistake in the hashtag Artinthetimeofcovid19 and it was amended accordingly. 

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