There has been much written recently about the proliferation of the ‘Africa Issue’ amongst many contemporary art publications and journals. So, true to form, last week saw the launch of the latest volume of feminist art journal n.paradoxa at London gallery Tiwani Contemporary. And the volume’s theme? “Africa and its Diasporas.”
n.paradoxa editor Katy Deepwell is not unaware of the problems with a regional issue. She pre-empted criticism in her opening remarks which were disparaging of ‘token’ Africa issues followed by a closure of the debate. She published this volume despite misgivings, she said, because there is ‘too much good work being done’ by doubly-underrepresented female African artists. Volume 31 of n.paradoxa sets out to bring the practices of these women artists into the critical discourse, and to kick-start further discussion in the publication and elsewhere.
It remains to be seen if Deepwell and her contributors will succeed in that aim. This volume is certainly an ambitious start, ranging across media and regions, if a little heavy on the diaspora. Bisi Silva, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, writes the guest editorial. She asks whether the proliferation of independent art organisations spearheaded by women (like Nubuke Foundation, Ker Thiossane, Raw Material, Nike Art Gallery, Terra Kulture, Doual’Art and Silva’s CCA) has ‘impacted significantly on the presentation, documentation and the visibility of women’s artistic practice on the continent’. The answer seems to be — not really. Running through the articles, though, is an exploration of how women artists are organizing and representing themselves to change that.