The Atlantic Centre for Modern Art (CAAM) and Casa África in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria present El iris de Lucy, an exhibition of installation, photography, video, video installation, painting, drawing, and performance from January 26 to June 4, 2017 at CAAM and from January 27 to May 26 at Casa África.

Curated by Orlando Britto Jinorio, the exhibition brings together works by 25 artists from 14 countries living on the African continent, its islands and in the diaspora, working in diverse media to construct a ‘Map’ of the different existential, conceptual and formal territories they inhabit.

Here, the works provide the viewers, an understanding of the complex and varied facets of the diverse African cultural space by exploring questions of gender, identity, race, body, as well as the effects of postcolonialism including migration and borders, memory and exile.

Participating artists are Jane Alexander, Ghada Amer, Berry Bickle, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Loulou Cherinet, Teresa Correa, Safaa Erruas, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Amal Kenawy, Kapwani Kiwanga, Nicène Kossentini, Mwangi Hutter, Michèle Magema, Fatima Mazmouz, Julie Mehretu, Myriam Mihindou, Aida Muluneh, Wangechi Mutu, Otobong Nkanga, Yapci Ramos, Tracey Rose, Berni Searle, Sue Williamson, Billie Zangewa and Amina Zoubir.

The title of the exhibition El iris de Lucy, is dedicated to the memory of the Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy. The name Lucy refers to the skeleton of the adolescent Australopithecus Afarensis discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by a team of European and North American anthropologists, considered for decades as the missing link of human evolution, with an approximate age of about 3.2 million years. During the excavation, the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was playing on the radio.

However, the curator wonders why the remains of the young woman were named Lucy instead of Nehanda of Zimbabwe, Sabla Wangel of Ethiopia, Nefertari or Cleopatra of Egypt, Amina of Hausaland, Makeda of Saba, Candace of Mero, Kahina of Mauritania, Del Wambara of Adal, Nzinga of Angola, Beatrice of Congo, Manthatisi of Lesotho, Nandi of Zululand, Ranavalona of Madagascar, Yaa Ásantewa of Ghana or any of the many names of relevant women that exist in the numerous and rich cultures from Africa. This designation, emphasizes Britto Jinorio’s symptomatic example of the dominant Western look that strips Africa of her history and context.

“Why did anthropologists have to remove their connection with their own context to that hominid, their identity, their gaze or, ultimately, their iris? What would then be Lucy’s iris, her real iris, her gaze?” This historic event is the focal point of this exhibition which, in a symbolic way, aims to give back to Lucy her own look through the careful selection of African contemporary artists, fundamental with their contribution and commitment to the cultural construction of the continent.



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