Mukasa; Institut Français du Gabon; Musée National des Arts et Traditions du GabonTheme:
“Where is South?”Conductor:
“My South is where I gain knowledge.”
Tigoue Mathouet Nills, AtWork Libreville participant
AtWork Libreville Chapter 15 has been implemented by Moleskine Foundation in partnership with NGO Mukasa, Institut Français Gabon, and the National Museum of Arts and Traditions of Gabon. It was the second leg of the AtWork Tour 2019 “Where is South?”.
Simon Njami comments on the topic: “The word ‘South’ may seem to designate a precise point, but upon reflection, we realize that this is totally inaccurate. Let us try to liberate the four points of the compass from any ideology, and reconsider them for what they are: directions. If we succeed in doing so, we will rediscover that South and North do not exist as such; rather, their meanings become activated through our way of thinking. No matter where we are, there is always a ‘South.’ Therefore, we hold the power to define its meaning: ‘South’ begins with me.”
“While describing my notebook, I felt a little stuck and got help from the others. Team spirit is really strong here.”
Endambo Cynthia Fallone, AtWork Libreville participant
The workshop took place in Libreville on June 25 – 29, 2019 and was conducted by our advisor Simon Njami. Twenty-four young creative talents, mostly coming from Libreville, got together under the guidance of the leader to debate, critique and exchange about what “South” really meant to them. Choreographers, film directors, photographers, entrepreneurs, designers, slam poets, communication students, visual artists, and art directors met for the first time to enjoy an opportunity for discussion and mutual exchange. The creative outcome of these reflections was spilled out on a notebook by each participant, producing 24 personal Souths, which will be exhibited as part of the final international exhibition of “Where is South?” Tour in 2020.
“I feel more confident now, and I know I will reach my destination.”
Matsanga Mbadinga Emilie, AtWork Libreville participant.
Simon Njami is an independent curator, lecturer, art critic, and writer. He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of “Revue Noire.” Previously, Njami was the artistic director of the Bamako Photography Biennial 2000-2010, and co-curator of the first African pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. He has curated a number of contemporary art and photography exhibitions, including Africa Remix (2004-2007) and the first African art fair in Johannesburg in 2008. In 2014, The Divine Comedy exhibition, created and curated by him, started a world tour at the MMK (Museum für Moderne Kunst) in Frankfurt, moving on to the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah and the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. He is the director of the Pan African Master Classes in Photography, a project created in partnership with the Goethe Institute; artistic director of the Donwahi Foundation (Abidjan, Ivory Coast); advisor to the Sindika Dokolo Collection (Luanda, Angola); secretary of the special jury of the World Press Photography Awards; artistic director of the first edition of Off Biennale (Cairo, 2015) and the 2016 and 2018 Dak’Art.
“My most valuable memory is of the debate about love, because I learned that this is a feeling that should never be seen as a sacrifice, but a joy.”
Bignoumba Eunice J.A., AtWork Libreville participant
The workshop took place at the Institut Français de Gabon, where the participants had a collective discussion about what “South” meant to them. The workshop theme was the starting point for critical thinking. As Yveline Nathalie Pontalier wrote in her intro text for the exhibition catalogue, the theme made them think about a concept they thought they knew – ‘Where is our South?’ Isn’t it where black begins? For most of us, the answer was something we believed we already knew, or the repetition of what we learned at school.” While abandoning preconceived ideas and deconstructing their own beliefs, they were guided “through a labyrinth” and finally discovered a new awareness, a new energy that allowed them to start a journey to “their own South.”
For Bunny Claude Massassa, which made the implementation of AtWork Gabon possible, it wasn’t an easy path, but when she saw how day by day those young people were transformed by the workshop experience, she had a clear confirmation of the importance of creativity for social change.
“Today these young people are AtWorkers, they are creative thinkers, they have a different thought, they are discovering themselves, they have no fear, they are able to criticize… They are going back to the origin of thinking; if you think, you create… Today they know who they are and what their identity is…”
Bunny Massassa Claude, AtWork Libreville partner
The Moleskine notebooks created by the participants during the workshop have been exhibited at the National Museum of Arts and Traditions of Gabon. The exhibition was co-curated by the workshop participants under the supervision of Simon Njami. It was the first time that contemporary youth creativity was showcased in Gabon. From the opening to the closing day, the AtWorkers were always at the National Museum to offer guided tours to families, young visitors, and people from all social classes, all attracted by their creativity. A total of 2,000 people visited the exhibition and discovered “Where is South?”.
A special catalogue featuring the personal “Souths” and the related notebooks of all the participants has been produced by the participants themselves.
AKOUMIGUI ALANDJI Jordy
BOUSSAMBA MBINA Claudio
ENDAMBO MAKATA Fallone
EVOUNA METENG J. F.
ITOUMBA MBENG D. L.
KOUMBA Anne Greta
MAKESSA BANGAGNE I. O.
MAKOSSO Frank Noel
MANSOUROU NYINGONE Orchidée
NDEM Steve William
NDOUMBA MAUD Maeva
NDOUMBOU LINGOMBE H. G.
OGOULA LATIF J. R
PONTALIER Yveline Nathalie
SANGOYI Paul Stecy
TIGOUE MATHOUET Nills
ONG Mukasa; Institut Français du Gabon; Musée National des Arts et Traditions du Gabon
Workshop coordinators :
Bunny Claude Massassa, Emmanuelle Latte, Raphael Dackey, Miriam Gonzalez
Photo shooting :
Bunny Claude Massassa, Ikapi Henry Junior et Mbina Neny
Video shooting :
Koko Ben Aziz, Guy Marcel Raponeste
Special thank to :
Tony Mebiame, Raffaele Bellezza, Bela Ngouo