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Collect Call - Diaspora Dial

Collect Call // Diaspora Dial is a virtual exhibition designed by Forme Femine to confront the limitations on how African femininity is portrayed by African artists.

Collect Call // Diaspora Dial is a virtual exhibition designed by Forme Femine to confront the limitations on how African femininity is portrayed by African artists. The exhibition places artists of African descent in dialogue with viewers in Germany, UK and the USA on the subjects of culture and technological access. We invite the perspectives of emerging and established artists from different African geographies and belief systems, to explore new ways of engaging with femininity as a topic and as a concept to redefine and expand in relation to technology and the future.

Collect Call // Diaspora Dial references George Adéagbo’s The Story of the Lion (1999) and Tout a moi de Tous (2007). Adéagbo worked with common and artistic materials that “hint at their identical multiples existing somewhere else,” and was vocal about the underrepresentation of African art in large scale exhibitions. By observing how ‘authorship’ and ‘agency’ are created and recreated in the global art world, CC//DD asks how individuals of African descent take ownership of technology and culture outside of the Western lens.

CC//DD draws from late 20th century afro-feminist artists who pushed for self-representation in the art world, including “Where We At: Black Women Artists” (founded 1971, New York), the first known group show of black women artists worldwide. As with Adéagbo at the turn of the century, afro-feminist artists have long acknowledged the power in ownership over art from African and feminine identities. CC//DD welcomes artists’ perspectives on how the digital era creates new questions around creative power and access.

CC//DD welcomes artists to portray femininity across different social angles and multiple ideas of aesthetic appeal. Exploring these expressions of femininity from all perspectives, artists engage in diverse media for this exhibition, which will be placed on a globally accessible digital platform. This concept connects to the idea of the ‘collect call’, appraising the interwoven nature of technological enhancements and narrative ownership, as well as the transition to digital media/platform. In the late 20th century, collect calls could be made from, in principle, any public pay phone in the world. The individual who makes the call offers the other person the privilege to listen from a distance, addressing the imbalances of resources and access.

Communication between the Western world and Africa is frequently disrupted by questions of the hierarchic structures shaping visibility and narrative. CC//DD invites artwork on the uneven exchanges between Germany, the USA, UK and a constellation of African countries, and how art is a medium for old and new visibilities from African communities. The exhibition looks to soften the dualities between listener//speaker, sender//receiver, north//south and object//subject. CC//DD centers the themes of African womanhood, globalization and digitalization, especially around questions of social progress that artists are considering from the multiple perspectives their work engages.

Along creative, political and technological intersections, 2020 is particularly well-suited for tapping into the practices of artists of African descent and upbringing. The COVID pandemic’s restrictions on gathering in person and on travel, as well as accompanying global economic and political turmoil, are a special catalyst: CC//DD’s digital medium explores the need to be heard as social beings and members of an African diaspora. As with cell phones before them, today’s digitalization era offers value for continental African voices to exercise agency and serve themselves a slice of the future. Whether in Nigeria, Cameroun, Tunisia, or South Africa, communities are mobilizing both politically and creatively to demand equality and respect. Digital platforms have grown in value to continental African voices, from social media to e-payments and commerce. CC//DD captures this intersection in both form and function: placed on an entirely digital platform, the exhibition provides global visibility and accessibility for African artists and encourages uncompromising self-expression.

This collective call across the diaspora reflects on how cultural and artistic resources are transferred and restricted across oceans and people. CC//DD tests the boundaries of distance and proximity, employing the virtual as a mode for open exchange between Africa and the Western world. While intentionally focused on black feminine form and substance, CC//DD features work by artists across genders with ties to Africa.


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