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AfrikaUK

By Mathias Ussing Seeberg THE DOOR OPENS FROM THE OUTSIDE The initiative for the exhibition Africa – architecture, culture and identity is grounded in a simple observation. Even though Africa is the world’s second-biggest continent, surprisingly little contemporary culture from there comes our way. It is therefore fundamentally a matter of opening a door that has been as good as closed. And this door opens from the outside. The usual narrative about Africa viewed from our part of the world has often focused quite one-sidedly on abysmal poverty, drought, famine, genocide, ebola, AIDS and misdirected foreign aid. Reproducing such a picture of Africa fixes the continent in a kind of (negative) disciplining, even though there may be good intentions behind it. Our image of Africa seems to lack narratives that go in other directions, that seek other perspectives and offer people an alternative to this monolithic tale of woe. It is paradoxical how many charitable events Denmark alone has mounted to help Africa, while at the same time we can note that most people here know nothing about the continent. Neither its history, its geography nor its contemporary culture is part of our general education. It is the claim of the exhibition that there are alternative stories of the culture and history of Africa that are just as valid as the common one, but are all too rarely told, and which are necessary to the reconsideration and nuancing of the West’s gaze at Africa. The exhibition, as it takes form through seven themes, is by no means a cosmeticizing of the continent. But the focus has been turned on more encouraging and inspiring narratives that can counterbalance the idea of Africa that is so zealously maintained in the media. It should thus be seen as a possibility that opens up a number of new perspectives for us and offers us narratives about building and dwelling from which we can learn. Louisiana’s long-standing commitment to new architecture has increasingly made us aware of Africa as the home of interesting new architectural projects. The tendency has been underscored internationally in a number of striking exhibitions by which we have been inspired, including Afritecture at the Museum of Architecture TU in Munich in 2013, which focused on a number of social, user-involving construction projects; the Milan Triennale’s gigan- 13 Introduction


AfrikaUK
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