The research and art project “Chinafrika. under construction” goes out in search of traces of the cultural relations between China and Africa, developing the territory of a global process that will fundamentally change – not least – the Europe that exists in people’s imaginations. However, “Chinafrika” is also symptomatic of a qualification of Europe that is actually taking place. The “Provincializing of Europe“ (Dipesh Chakrabarty) has been on the way for a long time.
African, Chinese and European artists and curators, theorists and actors work together on the realisation of artistic and theoretical positions. On all three continents, the results are presented on a travelling site in the form of workshops and conferences, exhibitions, performances, film screenings and publications.
The approach of the project, incorporating three continents, breaks away from a one-sided fixation along old colonial routes (north/south), and shows alternatives (south/south), new options of mutual reflection (south/north/south) along with contrasting, multiple perspectives.
At present, the project focuses on the copper belt in northern Zambia and the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a hub for the extraction and transport of raw materials, and on the metropolises Lagos (Nigeria), Johannesburg (South Africa), Maputo (Mozambique), Algiers (Algeria) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). In China, the emphasis is on the Pearl River delta with the African trading centres in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and the free trade area in Shenzhen, as well as the political and economic centres in Beijing.
The theme of the exhibition follows four threads: Yu Gong moves mountains / Trains and transport / Trade and markets / Daily urban life / And Europe? Whilst scientists have been studying the complex field of “Chinafrika” with regard to economic and political developments for some time, cultural trade-offs and their implications have been widely ignored up until now.
Our project pays special attention to the mutual superimposition of Sino-African cultures: how life perspectives change through new international relationships and orientations, how objects and images from the “other” culture take their place in everyday life, and how the presence of new people and their habits change urban spaces. How can developments and phenomena related to the fields of artistic practice and the visual cultures, the workings of everyday society, architecture and urbanism be taken into consideration? From a two-fold perspective, “Chinafrika. under construction” observes large-scale geostrategic remodelling as well as capillary and fragmented, local and individual options for action.
Due to its “folding” format, the travelling site can be adapted to comply with the requirements of the various presentation venues and the institutional and technical conditions of the partner countries and presentation locations. The web will function as the backbone of the project.
Working Groups Chinafrika
Chinafrika working groups have already been founded in three African metropolises (Lagos, Johannesburg, Lubumbashi) and one Chinese city (Guangzhou). Their task is to generate research, theory production and artistic works on site, and to establish debates at a local level.
Each working group consists of four to five members – artists, photographers, filmmakers, scientists, journalists and/or actors (traders, logistics specialists, workers, advisers, etc.). In the final stages, they will give a local public presentation to introduce and discuss their work. Individual or collective works of art, photographs, films, texts or archive material will be developed; these may also be presented at the event locations and other places during the course of the project.