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AfrikaUK

7 FOREWORD The exhibition AFRICA rounds off a trilogy that set out to explore the new architecture’s connections with identity formation and culture in a wider sense. Historically and intuitively, one can see a continuity between surviving construction types and general features of a culture: in one and the same process the man-made, built environment reflects and creates the societies of which it forms a part. But is the connection straightforward or more roundabout now in the 21st century? Does the kind of place-specificity and local character that has typified construction until modern times apply at all any longer? And if one can still point to such continuities and shared features regionally, what do they actually tell us about the cultures associated with them? Do internationalism and globalization go hand in hand with the free exchange of design formulae and materials, or is the long historical experience of weather, geology, daily routines and social conditions, despite everything, more resistant than that? After dealing initially with our own Nordic region in 2012, in 2014 we shifted the focus southward to the Arab cultural sphere which, besides the Arabian Peninsula, includes most of North Africa. In the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, we mainly looked more closely at the fast-growing ‘Babel cities’ and at the emergence of new public spheres. How can Arab and Islamic traditions incorporate the acceleration of high technology and the new transformations in society that appear to be inevitable, for example in the relationship between the genders? The third and last investigation – AFRICA – concentrates on the remaining part of the African continent, the countries that lie south of the Sahara. It is the ambition of this exhibition to show that there are a multitude of alternative narratives about African culture and history. Both in the continent itself and for the surrounding world, the reconsideration and nuancing of our ideas about Africa are much needed, and as will be evident from the following it is a rather more complex picture that emerges than when the aim is to describe ‘the Nordic’ or ‘the Arab’ (although this already requires a certain boldness). Trying to extract common denominators for ‘the African’ could easily end up looking like an attempt to sum up ‘the human’ – not impossible, but perhaps not so productive either. All the same we think that with the wealth of examples and fundamentally different approaches that both the exhibition and this catalogue offer we can contribute ideas and fragments to a new vocabulary, upgrade discourse and enrich the conceptual world of the individual observer. To sum up, the aim of this type of architectural exhibition is precisely to gather together images of the time we live in – to let both professionals and experts of many different kinds and the wider public make the acquaintance of new aspects of the state of the world. On all sides we are surrounded by images, detached from their origins, launched into circulation with entertainment, profit, political or other interests as the motivations. An exhibition project like this attempts by contrast to contribute to coherence, true understanding and the special kind of entertainment that consists of the pleasure of having one’s curiosity aroused. This requires expertise, optimism, energy and a constructive view of the future. We have therefore allied ourselves with the best people we could find. Kjeld Kjeldsen and Mathias Ussing Seeberg Exhibition Curators Poul Erik Tøjner Director


AfrikaUK
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