Africa at the MAXXI in Rome: ‘African Metropolis. An Imaginary City’ and ‘Road to Justice’

Africa is in the spotlight in Rome as two major exhibitions and a vibrant programme of events are taking place from 22nd June to 4th November 2018 at the MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Art. Supported by Giovanna Melandri, president of the Fondazione MAXXI, the aim of these exhibitions is to bring about reflection and discourse on Africa amidst existing notions and contradictions, such that arts and culture serve as tools for interrogation, dialogue and diplomacy.

These exhibitions are titled “African Metropolis. An Imaginary City” and “Road to Justice”.

African Metropolis. An Imaginary City

Done in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MAXXI presents African Metropolis. An Imaginary City. Curated by Simon Njami, two-time curator of Dak’Art, Africa’s largest biennale, and Elena Motisi, this exhibition will have on view, over 100 works by 34 African artists. These works feature the ‘beauty and contradiction’ of African cities in relation to today’s world. Explored through various mediums – photography, installations, sculptures, fabrics and videos – these works recreate the chaos, richness and the multiple facets of contemporary African and global identity.

Through five chapters identified by the curators – ‘Wandering’, ‘Belonging’, ‘Recognising’, ‘Imagining’ and ‘Reconstructing’ –  the exhibition presents the complex structure of a metropolis in which the urban space is perceived as a location where diverse experiences and realities converge in traditional and modern dialogue. 

Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Behind This Ambiguity, 2015-2018. Courtesy the artist.
Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Behind This Ambiguity, 2015-2018. Courtesy the artist.

The 34 artists featured are Akinbode Akinbiyi, Heba Y. Amin, El Anatsui, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Sammy Baloji, Bili Bidjocka, Mimi Cherono Ng’ok, Godfried Donkor, Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny, Meschac Gaba, Lucas Gabriel, François-Xavier Gbré, Simon Gush, Hassan Hajjaj, Nicholas Hlobo, Délio Jasse, Samson Kambalu, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Abdoulaye Konaté, Lamine Badian Kouyaté (Xuly.Bët), Youssef Limoud, Onyis Martin, Lavar Munroe, Hassan Musa, Paul Onditi, PEFURA, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Antoine Tempé, Andrew Tshabangu, Sarah Waiswa, Ouattara Watts, James Webb, Amina Zoubir.

Some of the artists in this exhibition were also featured at the 13th Dakar Biennale, which comes with little surprise as Simon Njami was the curator and artistic director of Dak’Art in 2016 and 2018. 

African Metropolis. An Imaginary City also features newly commissioned site-specific projects by Bili Bidjocka, Meschac Gaba, Hassan Hajjaj, Youssef Limoud, Alex Mawimbi and James Webb.

This exhibition will be on view from 22nd June until 4th November 2018.

Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm, Thursday 11am–10pm 

Road to Justice

Curated by Anne Palopoli Road to Justice features 11 works by 9 African artists. Created under the main objective to bring about a reflective engagement on Africa, these works will present the diverse realities of the continent. A journey from a wound to healing and the complexities therein. Some of the artists featured in Road to Justice exhibition are part of the MAXXI Collection.

Towing a chronological sequence to depict the past, present and future, the works will take the form of video works, photography, installations, and paintings.

Exhibiting artists include: John Akomfrah, Marlene Dumas, Kendell Geers, Bouchra Khalili, Moshekwa Langa, Wangechi Mutu, Malik Nejmi, Michael Tsegaye, Sue Williamson.

This exhibition will be on view from 22nd June until 14th October 2018.

Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm, Thursday 11am–10pm

Other programs and events lined up for the exhibitions include meet-up with African artists, architects, writers, live and dance music, and a film season on the occasion of the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

Venue: MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Art

Via Guido Reni, 4A | 00196 Rome | Italy.

Feature image: Akinbode Akinbiyi, Victoria Island, Lagos 2006. Via 

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