Flowers For Africa
Or Gallery, Vancouver (CA)
The Or Gallery is a non-profit, artist-run centre in Vancouver, Canada, with a focus on contemporary, conceptual practices. Since its inception in 1983, the Or Gallery has acted as a space for research, conceptual experimentation and documentation. The exhibition Kapwani Kiwanga: Flowers for Africa is scheduled for September 9 ? October 14, 2017 with an opening reception on Friday, September 8, 2017.
Kapwani Kiwanga?s ongoing series, Flowers for Africa,is a conceptual project that questions the material from which history is understood and imaged. Starting with research into visual archives relating to decolonization, Kiwanga located archival photographs that pictured different flower arrangements used in ceremonies or events related to the independence of African countries. She then took these images to a local florist and worked with them to recreate the bouquets found in the photographs, as closely as possible using available flowers. The fresh arrangements are then displayed in the exhibition and left to wilt over the duration of the show, just as memory might fade over time.
For the exhibition at the Or Gallery, we will recreate all of the works to date in Kiwanga?s Flowers for Africa series. These works exist in the form of a protocol; each time they are exhibited the organizing institution recreates the artworks. This exhibition is organized by artist and writer, Kathleen Ritter, and accompanied by a conversation between Ritter and Kiwanga on the use of archival research in contemporary cultural production. A publication will be produced after the exhibition.
Working with sound, film, performance, and objects, Kiwanga relies on extensive research to transform raw information into investigations of historical narratives and their impact on political, social, and community formation. Her work focuses on sites specific to Africa and the African diaspora, examining how certain events expand and unfold into popular and folk narratives, and revealing how these stories take shape in objects and oral histories. Trained as an anthropologist, Kiwanga performs this role in her artistic practice, using historical information to construct narratives about groups of people. Kiwanga is not only invested in the past but also the future, telling Afrofuturist stories and creating speculative dossiers from future civilizations to reflect on the impact of historical events.
Kiwanga was born in 1978 in Hamilton Canada and lives in Paris, France. She graduated from McGill University, Canada with a degree in Anthropology and Comparative Religions. She has been artist-in-residence at L?Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux-arts, Paris. Le Fresnoy: National Contemporary Art Studio (France); MU Foundation, Eindhoven (Netherlands); Le Manège, Dakar, Senegal. She has exhibited her works internationally and her film and video works have been nominated for two BAFTAs and have received awards at international film festivals.