Press release, April 2021
27 March 2021 – 24 October 2021, Level 1
THIS IS NOT AFRICA – UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED is intended as a project for promoting greater self-insight by focusing on art and the artists’ own voices. In terms of subject matter the exhibition is one of a wide scope, involving both conflict-ridden, social and political conditions related to the continent's past, present and future and more universal themes reaching far beyond Africa’s borders, e.g. by touching on issues of power and language, the colonial era and today’s global capitalism, structural racism and counter-narratives. As the title indicates, the works in the exhibition challenge a stereotypical and traditional Western view of Africanness. The works include video, installation, painting, sculpture, photography and performance art.
- This exhibition is largely motivated by a desire to draw attention to certain prejudices associated with Africanness and to the notion that our individual perception of the world is a construct created by our own thoughts and attitudes, which may, however, be developed and challenged over time – and thus unlearned. With this exhibition we thus want to create a space for added reflection on the filters we see the world through and the blind spots they may generate, says Erlend G. Høyersten, museum director, ARoS.
- From the very beginning we have been aware of our own blind spots as a Western institution. We wished to make the stories of the exhibition open and nuanced. Therefore, it was important for us that a number of curators and guest editors from or related to the African continent were involved. It was also important that the art and the artists’ own voices were brought to the fore instead of having one single curatorial voice based on the ‘white gaze’. The result is an exhibition offering a cacophony of numerous voices coming from very different positions and places in the world, says Maria Kappel Blegvad, curator-in-charge, ARoS.
From Denmark to Ghana
This Is Not Africa – Unlearn What You Have Learned is also an art exchange project realized in collaboration with the exhibition’s guest curators, Ibrahim Mahama and Selom Kudjie. The collaboration has resulted in a number of exhibitions at The Savannah Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Red Clay and Nkrumah Voli in the north Ghanaian city of Tamale, where audiences can experience art from ARoS’ collection from April to October 2021; including works by Jesper Just, Olafur Eliasson, Hanne & Birgit, Cyprien Gaillard, Tracey Moffatt, Annika von Hausswolff, Nicolai Howalt & Trine Søndergaard, Doddà Maggy and Henrik Saxgren.
It is a good initiative and certainly one that needs to be expanded upon across institutions globally. It is important for young institutions like ours because it gives us the opportunity to learn certain practices, but it also allows us to share knowledge on different art forms, says Ibrahim Mahama, artist and founder of SCCA, Tamale, Ghana.
The exhibition is curated by Erlend G. Høyersten, museum director, ARoS, Maria Kappel Blegvad, curator, ARoS, Ibrahim Mahama, artist and founder of the SCCA, Tamale, Ghana and Selom Kudjie, artistic director, SCCA, Tamale.
AAIÚN NIN / ATHI-PATRA RUGA / BARTHÉLÉMY TOGUO / BERNARD AKOI-JACKSON / BILLIE ZANGEWA / BOLATITO ADEREMI-IBITOLA / BRONWYN KATZ / CANDICE BREITZ / DAN HALTER / EURIDICE GETULIO KALA / GRADA KILOMBA / JEANNETTE EHLERS & LA VAUGHN BELLE / KAPWANI KIWANGA / KELVIN HAIZEL / MESCHAC GABA / MOFFAT TAKADIWA / NÁSTIO MOSQUITO / NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY / NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS / ROBEL TEMESGEN / SAMMY BALOJI / SETHEMBILE MSEZANE / TABITA REZAIRE / TRACY NAA KOSHIE THOMPSON / ZANELE MUHOLI
The exhibition was made possible with generous support from: Augustinus Fonden / AKO Foundation / Beckett-Fonden / Knud Højgaards Fond / Statens Kunstfond / Konsul George Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorck’s Fond / Per og Lise Aarsleffs Fond / Martha og Paul Kerrn Jespersens Fond / Grosserer L. F. Foghts Fond / Toyota-Fonden
Press photos can be downloaded free of charge from via Dropbox when citing the name of the photographer.