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COEXISTENCE Timbuktu has been a university city for more than a thousand years, and the Ahmed Baba Institute was built with the aim of gathering and preserving the innumerable Islamic writings that exist in the area. The building has been erected with inspiration from the labyrinthine streets of Timbuktu and is situated between the old city nucleus and its more modern outskirts. In 2013 Malian Islamist rebels attacked the library, and many manuscripts were lost. COEXISTENCE PERSPECTIVE: The story of the attack on the library is paradoxical, because 48  its function is to protect Islamic culture in the area. The Ahmed Baba Institute is an image of great religious diversity and the coexistence of widely different worldviews. DHK Architects / South Africa: Ahmed Baba Institute, Timbuktu, Mali, 2009 The French photographer Patrick Willocq lived in the Congo as a child and has later returned. His Old Colonial Villas of Mbandaka is a series of photographs that show a number of houses from the Belgian colonial era seen from the outside, coupled with a picture of the interior and those who live in the house now. It is clear that the houses are not what they used to be – they represent a long gone age and remain as monuments – or ruins – commemorating the Belgian colonial regime, which ended in 1960. COEXISTENCE PERSPECTIVE: The series shows the omnipresent memories of a highly oppressive colonial regime and reminds us of the ideological roots of the architecture. Patrick Willocq / France: Old Colonial Villas of Mbandaka, DR Congo, 2013 Courtesy of the artist Wangechi Mutu creates hybrid creatures – often erotic and dangerous female figures with fragmented, disparate historical and mythological origins. In other words what we are looking at is composite women: they look both like cyborgs and primitive human beings – they appear supernatural. The figures are somewhere between creation myth and futuristic fable – the first and the last beings in this world. The fragmented body does not quite belong either here or there – it is a bodily inbetween phenomenon whose identity flickers, remains obscure and is hard to pin down. Serpents are a symbol of transformation in many cultures both contemporary and ancient. Serpents are also frequently heralded as symbols of rebirth, desire and even fertility. They are often seen in representations alongside mythical female figures as divine tricksters or guardians. The Sleeping Serpent presents a gargantuan female snake in repose, seemingly following a substantial meal (her belly filled with shredded paper from magazines and junk-mail that propagates and encourages materialistic consumption). She is both vulnerable and potent in a position of slumber and display. A host of small objects placed near her resting head serve as talismans or votive offerings. COEXISTENCE PERSPECTIVE: Mutu’s works forge a bond between worlds which on the face of it look like opposites: a coexistence of modernity and tradition in a complex present. In many of her works we see a reworking of aspects of religion and belief. The strong belief in magic and invisible powers goes hand in hand with a burgeoning consumer culture. Wangechi Mutu / Kenya All you Sea, came from me, 2014 Collage painting on vinyl Collection of CJ Follini, New York Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Wangechi Mutu. Photography: Bill Orcutt Wangechi Mutu / Kenya Sleeping Serpent, 2014 Mixed media fabric and ceramic 91 x 91 x 945 cm


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