Space for Pan-African Research Creation and Knowledge.
Space for Pan-African Research, Creation and Knowledge – is a multi-sited, multiple-platform project that spans the African continent and its diasporas. Its focus is the arts, broadly defined: from collage to experimental video, dance and theatre to poetry, faction and forays into free open-source software production, hip hop and ephemeral architecture, photography and high-wire acrobatics.
SPARCK is directed by Kadiatou Diallo and Dominique Malaquais, a two-woman activist/artist/scholar team. At the heart of the project are emphatically unconventional creators’ residencies, workshops, performances, publications, exhibits, films and film-showings, conferences, blogs and interventions in public space – as many and as often as time and place will allow. The project is network-driven, fluid and wide, wide open.
SPARCK embodies the ethos of the Africa Centre because it is a multi-disciplinary project that reaches outward both literally and metaphorically crossing geographical, philosophical and cultural boundaries while maintaining an interconnected and socially responsive nature.
Functioning as a triennial project, its three-year thematic modules open ambits for exchange between participants, audiences, onlookers, casual visitors and any and all who care to enter its space. The project’s first three-year programme was designed by co-consorators AbdouMaliq Simone and Dominique Malaquais, both of whom write in and about urban cultures of the contemporary “South,” choreographer and theatre director Faustin Linyekula, and Kadiatou Diallo. It is titled “Net / Works: Trans-Local Cultures in the Making of African Worlds.”
“Net / Works” is about cities and the art of the deal. Its starting point is an observation: cities in Africa today are crucibles of change, movement, imagination and visions for the future. Despite immense difficulties, not least of which massive infrastructural collapse, urban spaces across the continent are put to use by a wide variety of actors as mechanisms for constructing and renovating economies, cultures and selves. Through complex intersections of migration, commerce and related diasporic practices, they are emerging with increasing strength as platforms for cosmopolitan, highly prolific engagement by Africans with, through and across the global present.
While attention in the media is placed on the desperate efforts made by migrants to reach Europe on leaky boats, traders and businesspeople from small provincial markets across the continent buy into apparel factories in China. As Melilla and Ceuta dominate the news, African video markets boom, engaging complex networks of production and exchange with the Indian sub-continent. How do these realities coexist? At the heart of it all is the deal.
In the realm of the deal, objects, people, and places that on the surface may seem to have nothing to do with each other come together, sometimes for just a moment, sometimes longer, to produce new opportunities and resources. Nations, in the mainstream sense of the term, cannot be built in this context – in this space where things get done because, fleetingly, the time and the place is right for a particular collaboration, in this realm where there is no telling if what is possible today will be so tomorrow. Yet deals often work: money is made, people are fed and go places and create rich and engaging lives for themselves. In the process, multiple, entangled, nations are born – nations that often prove more flexible and better adapted to everyday existence on the continent than those born of colonisation’s violent cutting apart of Africa.
By mobilising various facets of artistic and media production, as well as academic deliberation, workshops exploring highly charged social issues and initiatives of various kinds that engage local communities, “Net /Works” explores how manoeuvres, tactics and performances of deal-making actually work. Its projects and partner-practitioners focus on dynamics in three medium-sized cities. Located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Senegal, each of these cities is known for its role as a centre of highly effective deal-making – in trade, cross-border commerce, and migration – across the world and for the fraught, elastic and constantly shifting relations it entertains with larger urban centres nearby. The three cities are Lubumbashi, Aba and Touba. Each is both a focus – a hub of SPARCK activities – and a platform – a gateway to other activities taking place or to be developed in urban spaces across the African world.
To read more, visit www.sparck.org