AFRICA; ARCHITECTURE, CULTURE AND IDENTITY. Exhibition opened in Denmark at the Lousiana Museum of Modern Art

This summer’s major exhibition at Louisiana focuses on architecture, art and culture on the African continent. By pinpointing a number of judiciously selected examples from a cultural here and now, the exhibition sheds light on the diversity and complexity of the part of Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

Through a number of projects spread over the African continent the exhibition tells a story of the new architecture of different regions – with its various proposals for accommodating local traditions, strengthen the existing ones and create solutions for the future. The exhibition presents a sensuous architectural scenography and a number of installations, where the form, scale and space of architecture can be perceived on a 1:1 scale. Life around the buildings is also part of the architecture. In the exhibition art, photography, film and other arts create perspective to the architects' efforts - and helps to refine our image of this part of the world.

The AFRICA exhibition is the third chapter in Louisiana’s major series Architecture, Culture and Identity. In 2012, the museum unveiled the first chapter – NEW NORDIC – and in 2014, it turned attention toward the Arab world with the ARAB CONTEMPORARY exhibition.



What does it mean ’to belong’? The exhibition opens with a rich polyphony of answers to this question. 25 prominent artists, designers, authors and architects each provides a glimpse into their world and discuss ‘belonging’ in Africa right now.


Coexistence is a central concept across regions in Africa. The exhibition shows how the coexistence of apparently paradoxical contrasts is a condition of life and is of fundamental importance to the individual community.


Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the places on the planet where the cities are growing most. The exhibition focuses on the following six expansive cities: Dakar, Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa,Maputo and Johannesburg. All of them are important nodal points on the continent and represent a complexity of geography, culture and colonial history that is expressed in different ways of living. 


Across Africa south of the Sahara the tree plays a special role for the understanding of space. It is nature’s very simple way of creating shade and thus a place where one can seek shelter from the sun. The tree can be called a spatial archetype; a simple way of 'making space'.


Although Rwanda is one of the smallest nations on the African continent, the country looms large in the minds of many people as a result of the ethnic genocide in 1994. But Rwanda 20 years later is one of the best-functioning countries on the African continent, with a growing economy and a firm administration that is working hard 
to improve the country.


Socially rooted architecture – schools, hospitals, children’s homes, women’s centres and religious institutions – is one of the most outstanding architectural tendencies in sub-Saharan Africa.  It is characteristic of several of these projects that there is a high degree of local specificity. To a great extent they make use of local resources and try to engage in dialogue with an existing building tradition in the given region. They involve the local users in the construction process to ensure that the finished building matches local needs and the participants are trained to maintenance them once the architects have left the arena.


What will the future be like? How does one build the future? Contemporary art’s exploration of potential futures is a strong tendency on the African continent – which the exhibition here refers to as “Afrofuturism” but is a term many African artists reject.



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