At Performa 2015, the Chimurenga Library took the form of a library-of-people, bringing together a broad spectrum of NYC based friends and collaborators to create an improvised, pop-up library of bodies of knowledge.
We pursued 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 presented a shared vision of an Africa yet to come, as a way to rethink the present.
These historic events provided an opportunity for a myriad of personal and artist encounters that allows for an understanding of diaspora less as a historical condition than a set of practices.
The Chimurenga Library at Performa 2015 invited a broad spectrum of artists, performers, writers and musicians to participate through conversations, performances and happenings that provoke us to rethink our histories and to speculate on our futures through artistic and cultural practice.
How can we draw on our shared cultural history to better understand our current geopolitical realities? What are the new networks, families, friendships and symbioses within art, culture and society that require us to redefine our concepts of Africa and the world? How do we build new forms of knowledge production in a global context? How do we harness how music puts pressure on language to create new languages? Can a past that the present has not yet caught up with be summoned to haunt the present as an alternative?
At Performa 2015 we engaged trade as both the process of buying, selling, or exchanging goods or services and the practice of exchanging ideas, imaginaries, perceptions, vocabularies and bodies of knowledge.
The library became a hub of interaction, featuring a series of pop up stores that experiment with trade, informal economies, aesthetics and body language, mobility, infrastructure and immigration.
Collaborators in the library installation included Neo Muyanga, Harmony Holiday, Shariffa Rhodes-Pitt, African Record Centre/ Yoruba Book Center / Makossa Records, Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Africa Is A Country, Hisham Aidi, Innove Gnawa, Brent H Edwards and many more.
- Kallio Library, Helsinki: April 13 – May 28 2016
- Cape Town Central Library, Cape Town: 2 May – 21 June 2009
- San Francisco Public Library San Francisco, US: 24 May – 29 June 2014
- Showroom Gallery London, UK: 8 October – 21 November 2015
- MU, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 21 May – 1 August 2010
- La Colonie, Paris: 13 – 17 December 2017
- Raw Material Company Dakar, Senegal
- Civil Lines
- Joe An Essay by Sam Kahiga June 2008