• Flowers for Africa –Kapwani Kiwanga
  • Flowers for Africa –Kapwani Kiwanga
  • Flowers for Africa –Kapwani Kiwanga
  • Flowers for Africa –Kapwani Kiwanga

Flowers for Africa

Kapwani Kiwanga

09 September
14 October, 2017

Curated by: Jonathan Middleton and Denise Ryner

Flowers for Africa

Kapwani Kiwanga

Curated by: Jonathan Middleton and Denise Ryner

Organized by Kathleen Ritter
Conversation Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 2PM

 

Tunis, Tunisia, March 1956. The leader of the Neo Destour Party, Habib Bourguiba, on his return from Paris after signing the Franco-Tunisian Common Protocol, addresses a crowded stadium celebrating Tunisia’s independence. As he speaks into the microphone, his lapel is decorated by a simple boutonnière, an adornment signaling this as a special occasion. This image is captured on screen from grainy black-and-white footage sourced in the British Pathé newsreel “Tunisia Receives Her Independence”.

 

Through extensive research into archives related to decolonization, artist Kapwani Kiwanga locates images such as these representing defining moments of independence in countries throughout the African continent. Each image features, to a greater or lesser extent, a floral arrangement—perhaps the only common element to be sourced across a range of ceremonial occasions recognizing the decolonization of Africa. These arrangements range from a boutonnière to an elaborate bouquet.

 

Kiwanga then takes these images to a local florist in order to recreate the bouquets as closely as possible to the archival images. The fresh arrangements are displayed in a gallery and left to wilt over the duration of the exhibition, just as the memory of a celebratory moment might fade over time. Titled Flowers for Africa, Kiwanga’s series is a conceptual project that questions the material from which history is pictured and remembered. These artworks exist in the form of a protocol; they are recreated for each exhibition according to a set of detailed instructions, with differing results based on the interpretation by the florist.

 

This exhibition at the Or Gallery is the first exhibition of Kiwanga’s work in Vancouver, and the first solo exhibition that recreates all of the existing works in her Flowers for Africa series, for which there are nine to date. The series is ongoing as Kiwanga continues to source images of all 54 states across the continent. The 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, installation, and objects, Kapwani 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 untold histories and structures of power, examining how certain events in popular and folk narratives 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 that complexify our understanding of human experiences. 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.

 

 

Image: Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa : Tunisia, 2014
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Jérôme Poggi, Paris
© Photo : Aurélien Mole
Collection FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris (FR)

This exhibition at the Or Gallery is the first exhibition of Kiwanga’s work in Vancouver, and the first solo exhibition that recreates all of the existing works in her Flowers for Africa series, for which there are nine to date. The series is ongoing as Kiwanga continues to source images of all 54 states across the continent. The 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.

Artist Bios