Cui Jie | “China Africa” @ Centre Pompidou
Antenna Space is pleased to announce artist Cui Jie’s participation in the group exhibition « ChinaAfrica» at Centre Pompidou, exhibits her painting works.
Thirty years after « The Magicians of the Earth », fifteen years after « Africa Remix », five years after « Multiple Modernities from 1905 to 1970 » and following on from the exhibitions devoted to Wifredo Lam, Latiff Mohidin and, most recently, Ernest Mancoba, the Centre Pompidou continues to explore the history of non-Western contemporary art, with a special focus on the ties between China and Africa. Should the China and Africa connection be seen as a form of total emancipation from colonialism or as the expression of a new relationship based on domination ? The ChinaAfrica exhibition examines the real and imaginary spaces resulting from this dialogue, which were first constructed within a framework of Marxist ideology and colonial and then de-colonial history. Yet it is also an implicit interrogation of Western history, as it relates to these regions.
At the turn of the 20th century, W. E. B. DuBois, the Pan-Africanist American thinker, advocated the idea that Asia could forge the pathway for worldwide racial liberation. As an echo to this belief, we have witnessed an increasingly strong tie between China and Africa, which has been established through political, ideological, and to a large extent, economic interests. This Afro-Asian meeting of two principal regions of the Global South sheds light on the urgency to shift away from the colonial and Western frameworks of representation. Yet, what new realities have been developed from this transcultural encounter? What mobility, public realms, or forms of expression have emerged ? And what Utopian or dystopian projections have come to light ?
This exhibition is an attempt to reveal and rethink the phenomena rooted in this Sino-African encounter, from the shared imagery of struggles to the configuration of a transcultural or globalized identity. It questions certain economic trends (through the works of François-Xavier Gbré, Pratchaya Phinthong and Yonamine) and the social transformations born out of this relationship (Wang Bing, Anawana Haloba, Marie Voignier), and propels the unleashing of critical imagination (Cui Jie, Musquiqui Chihying, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Binelde Hyrcan).
The interweaving of critical engagements from the past and the present here also leads to speculations of the future. In this context, the potentials, as well as the failures and alternatives to various forms of economic cooperation are utilised as connections to explore the socio-political realm. In her paintings, Cui Jie employs the images of Chinese telecommunication signal towers in Africa as a way to open up an imaginary space of control and prosperity.
The artists invited by the Centre Pompidou for this exhibition are not only African or Asian. Many of them regularly collaborate with the institution, and some are already represented in the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne. Together, their works evoke the central concern of « ChinaAfrica», which aims to question the legacy of colonialism reconfigured by post or neo-colonial political and economic alliances.
Exhibition curators: Alicia Knock and Yung Ma, curators at the Musée national d’art moderne.