Simon Njami (b. 1962 Lausanne, Switzerland, lives in Paris) is a writer and an independent curator, lecturer, art critic and essayist. He was visiting professor at UCSD (University of San Diego California). He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the cultural magazine Revue Noire. Previously, Njami was the artistic director of the Bamako Photography Biennial 2000-10; co-curator of the first African pavilions at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007; and artistic director of the Luanda and Douala triennials and the Lubumbashi Biennale. He has curated numerous exhibitions, including “A Collective Diary” (2010), “A Useful Dream” (2010), and the Johannesburg Art Fair (2008).
Njami is author of biographies of James Baldwin (1991) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (2007), and has contributed essays for the catalogs for the Sydney Biennale, Documenta and others. Most recently he has curated “WIR SIND ALLE BERLINER: 1884-2014”, an exhibition that offers a critical knowledge sharing platform on the Berlin Conference, on past and current socio-political and economic phenomena in a Europe of flourishing nationalism and racism, as it deals with issues like migration flow or border and identity politics at Savvy Contemporary. His new exhibition «The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists» was previously shown at MMK (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt a64m Main) and at The SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah, USA) in 2014 and is currently on show at The Smithsonian Museum of African Art (Washington DC, USA). Njami is currently the advisor of AtWork, an itinerant artistic educational format he conceived together with Lettera27 Foundation, in partnership with Moleskine. He is also directing the Pan African Master Classes in Photography, a project that he conceived with the Goethe Institut, and setting up the collection of contemporary art for the future Memorial Acte Museum in Guadeloupe.
Yinka Shonibare CBE
Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art, first at Byam School of Art (now Central Saint Martins College) and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA.
Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. His trademark material is the brightly coloured ‘African’ batik fabric he buys in London. This type of fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new sign of African identity and independence.
Shonibare was a Turner prize nominee in 2004, and was also awarded the decoration of Member of the ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ or MBE, a title he has added to his professional name. Shonibare was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta 11, Kassel, in 2002 to create his most recognised work ‘Gallantry and Criminal Conversation’ that launched him on to an international stage. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennale and internationally at leading museums. In September 2008, his major mid-career survey commenced at the MCA Sydney and then toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. He was elected as a Royal Academician by the Royal Academy, London in 2013.
Shonibare’s work, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ was the 2010 Fourth Plinth Commission, and was displayed in Trafalgar Square, London, until January 2012. It was the first commission by a black British artist and was part of a national fundraising campaign organized by the Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum, who have now successfully acquired the sculpture for permanent display outside the museum’s new entrance in Greenwich Park, London.
In 2012, the Royal Opera House, London, commissioned ‘Globe Head Ballerina’ (2012) to be displayed on the exterior of the Royal Opera House, overlooking Russell Street in Covent Garden. The life-sized ballerina encased within a giant ‘snow globe’ spins slowly as if caught mid-dance, the piece appears to encapsulate a moment of performance as if stolen from the stage of the Royal Opera House.
In 2014, Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate and Terrace Hill, commissioned ‘Wind Sculpture’ and it is installed in Howick Place, London. Measuring 6 metres by 3 metres, it explores the notion of harnessing movement through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time.
In 2017, Wind Sculpture VI was featured in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of the Arts, London as part of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Shonibare was also commissioned by the Yale Center for British Art to create Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina for inclusion in ‘Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World’, which went on display at Kensington Palace, London in 2017.
His new commission with the Public Art Fund, Wind Sculpture (SG) I, is on display at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park until 14 October 2018.
In January 2019, Yinka Shonibare was awarded the decoration of CBE.
Shonibare’s works are included in prominent collections internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands.
Olu Amoda is an internationally celebrated Nigerian sculptor, muralist, furniture designer, and multi-media artist whose iconic work using repurposed materials and metal expresses the very best of modern African sensibility. Amoda was born in Warri in the Niger Delta in 1959 to his father, a goldsmith, with whom there seems to be evidence of some subtle interdependence of a ‘flaming’ strength drawn from the sole element of consanguinity apparent in the art of both father and son.
He graduated in sculpture from Auchi Polytechnic in 1983, and was awarded a Masters of Fine Arts from Georgia Southern University in the United States in 2009. He has worked as an Artist-in-Residence in Villa Arson in Nice, France (2000), the Bag Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa (2003), at the Appalachian Statue University, in Boone, North Carolina (2006) and at the New York Design Museum (2010).
His work is housed in local and international collections including with the New Ark Museum in New Jersey, USA.. He has exhibited around the world, including at the Skoto Gallery and at the Museum of Art & Design in New York, at the Georgia Southern University in the United States, at the Didi Museum, Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institute & the Nimbus Art Centre in Nigeria, at the 6th Biennale de L’Art African Contemporain in Dakar, Senegal, at The World Intellectual Property Organization [WIPO] Headquarters, in Geneva, Switzerland, and with the current touring exhibition of “out of the ordinary” organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in the United Kingdom.
He is Founder and Chief Executive of Riverside Art and Design Studios in Yaba, Lagos, and has taught Sculpture and Drawing at the School of Art, Design and Printing at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos since 1987. Amoda has received numerous awards including the Delta State Honor For The Most Innovative Sculptor of The Year.
Eva Maria Ocherbauer
Eva Maria Ocherbauer is an Austrian born photographer, curator and lecturer living in Berlin. She studied Scenery at the “Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst” in Graz, Austria and performed as a dancer and actress before joining the “Werkstatt für Photography VHS Kreuzberg” in Berlin, Germany to get trained as a photographer.
Her photographs had been featured internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including “Kreuzberg – Amerika“ CIO Berlin, 2016 / “Geniale Dilletanten” Haus der Kunst, München, 2015, “Röcke Tragen” Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, 2012 / “Milk Drop Coronet” Camera Austria Graz, 2010 / “The Park” Galerie September Berlin 2010, ““BauhausBarokoko” Chartgallery Art Basel, 2007 / “Simultan” Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2005 / “City Pity” DAAD Galerie Berlin, 2000 / “Fotografie Des Unsichtbaren” Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach – Kunsthalle Krems – Fotomuseum Winterthur, 1997, “StadtPark Eins” Photofestival Houston, 1993. Publications including “Berlin West” self-publshed 2016 / “FICTION” Superlabo, Japan, 2013 / “One Day / Ten Photographers” Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 2010 / “la vie et la mort” Fotohof edition Salzburg, 2005 / “Das Kräuterufo” Martin Schmitz Verlag Kassel, 1995 / “STILL ALIVE” Edition Camera Austria Graz, 1993 / “Louvre Boutique” Edition Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, 1989 / “Berliner Designhandbuch” Merve Verlag Berlin, 1987.
Her first collaboration with institutions on the African continent started in 2010 with “Watching You, Watching Me” an exchange project Berlin/Addis Ababa, in partnership with Aida Muluneh. After “Crossing Compasses” in 2012 in partnership with the Yaba College of Technology and the Goethe-Institute Lagos she established in 2013 the LagosPhoto Summer School in cooperation with the African Artist’ Foundation.
In 2016 she founded the FotoFactory.Lagos, a teaching programme aimed at young Nigerian photographers who are interested in developing their skills and careers. FotoFactory.Lagos is jointly designed with Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie and supported by The Femi Akinsanya African Art Collection and Aachron Incorporated.
Her photographs had been featured internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including “One Fine Day Soon” Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg 2018
Oliver Enwonwu, the Director of Omenka Gallery, is the youngest son of the pioneering modernist artist, Ben Enwonwu. He is an artist, curator, art administrator, writer and illustrator. Enwonwu has exhibited extensively and curated many shows all over the world. He is the president, Society of Nigerian Artists. He is the founder, executive director, and a trustee of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation and sits on the board of several organizations including the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria, and the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria. Enwonwu is also the founder and editor, Omenka magazine.