Can a past that the present has not yet caught up with be summoned to haunt the present as an alternative?
In April and May 2016, Chimurenga installed the Chimurenga Library and pop-up radio station Pan African Space Station in the the Kallio Library in Helsinki. Chimurenga, mapped primarily Kallio Library’s music and multimedia’s collection to create an alternative route to the library’s collection, a setting for a pop-up live studio and an archive for the future.
The intervention continues Chimurenga’s ongoing exploration into the utopian moment shortly after African independences, when a series of Pan African festivals staged in Dakar, Algiers, Lagos and Kinshasa functioned as laboratories for the development of new, continent-wide politics and cultures. FESTAC 77 (Lagos 1977) and its predecessors, The First World Festival of Negro Arts (Dakar 1966), the First Pan-African Festival (Algiers 1969) and Zaire 74 (Kinshasa 1974) presented a shared vision of an Africa yet to come.
This Africa was as much a geographic reality as it was a construct, a continent whose boundaries shift according to the prevailing configurations of global racial identities and power. Building on their previous research platforms staged in Cape Town, Lagos, San Francisco, Sharjah, Paris, London and New York among others Chimurenga will remap these Pan-Africanist imaginations and cultural visions in Helsinki. What is important here is not the reiteration of the actual past, but the persistence of what never actually happened, but might have.
The space of Kallio Library was transformed into a pop-up live studio Pan African Space Station for entangling different realities and experiences – with participants and listeners prompted by ideas of utopia and oppression, history and the future, borders, time, art and technology. The Pan African Space Station’s live broadcasting program on 13.4.-16.4.2016 included music, conversations, travelogues and performances with local musicians, journalists, writers, curators and filmmakers. The Chimurenga Library functioned amidst a cartographic installation, mapping a series of “routes” running throughout the space. Books, records and other material from the library’s collection will be connected through a physical map that highlights networks of exchange and collaboration across place, time, disciplines and ideologies.
The Helsinki Pan African Space Station was programmed and produced in collaboration with the Helsinki-based collective Third Space (Ahmed Al-Nawas and Christopher Wessels) and the arts journal Rab-Rab (Sezgin Boynik). Guest performers and speakers include: Sonya Lindfors, Sasha Huber, Hassan Blasim, Koko Hubara, Dope Saint Jude, Angel-Ho, Jowan Safadi, Aino Korvensyrjä, Hosni Boudali, the Tricont collective, Ali Akbar Mehta, David Muoz, Aiyekooto and many more.
- New York, USA: 7-11 November 2015
- Cape Town Central Library, Cape Town: 2 May – 21 June 2009
- MU, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 21 May – 1 August 2010
- San Francisco Public Library San Francisco, US: 24 May – 29 June 2014
- Showroom Gallery London, UK: 8 October – 21 November 2015
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