An introduction to AKAA contemporary African
art and design fair in Paris

Nataal is a proud partner for the first edition of AKAA (Also Known As Africa) this week. The international art fair at Carreau de Temple in Paris is devoted to contemporary art and design from Africa and is the brainchild of entrepreneur Victoria Mann. “The artists from the African continent and its diaspora have a well-deserved place on the contemporary art scene, garnering increased attention and interest. In Africa, just as in other parts of the world, cultural and commercial events are created to support this increased interest. So in 2013, I decided I wanted to be part of that support,” says Mann.

“The artists from the African continent and its diaspora have a well-deserved place on the contemporary art scene, garnering increased attention and interest”

“Artists, galleries, institutions and fairs are many. Africa is multifaceted, plural and inclusive. And so, there are many ways to present, support and believe in artists who are related to this continent. AKAA is mindful of its approach to the milieu of contemporary art from Africa and the image of those artists working within that milieu. We understand that these artists are beginning to succeed in reversing the historical trends and prejudices that have often been a barrier to recognition and livelihood. The Western perception of contemporary African art is now on a positive threshold. AKAA is honoured to contribute at this vital moment.”

Mann has assembled an esteemed selection committee including Parisian gallerist Dominique Fist, Elisabeth Lalouschek, artistic director at October Gallery London, Simon Njami, independent curator, co-founder of Review Noir and artistic director of Dak’Art Biennial 2016, Azu Nwagbogu, founder of LagosPhoto Festival and the African Artists Foundation, and AKAA’s artistic director N’Gone Fall. Together they selected 30 galleries from 11 countries including Addis Fine Art (Ethiopia), 50 Goldbourne (UK), Circle Art Agency (Kenya), Guns and Rain (South Africa), Artco (Germany) and Galerie du Pont Neuf (France).  The work of 115 renowned artists from Africa, its diaspora and those whose work reflects their personal experience of Africa will be on view including such diverse talents as Joanna Choumali, Nicola Lo Calzo, Safaa Mazirh, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga and Grace Cross.

Meanwhile the fair’s cultural program Les Recontres AKAA, directed by Salimata Diop, will offer talks, screenings, signings and performances fuelling the growing conversation around art in Africa. El Anatsui discusses the semiotics of meaning with Mpho Diop, Pieter Hugo will be in conversation with Karolina Lewandowska and Bruce Clarke presents his book Ghosts Of The Sea.

In addition AKAA boasts a number of Special Projects, among them Nataal’s exhibition of four of our contributing artists (read all about our show here.) Instagram and Getty presents photographer Girma Berta (read our story about Berta here). Cameroon’s cultural space Bandjoun Station hosts the group show Walk On The Moon. African Artists For Development focuses on its work with Refugees On The Move and there is an area for design and architecture by Johannesburg’s Museum of African Design. Come, explore and enjoy.

AKAA is at Carreau du Temple, 4 rue Eugène Spuller, 75003, Paris from 11 to 13 November


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