Digital Master Class

Digital Master Class

Digital Master Class

Digital Master Class

1- 4 July 2021


“Write your novel”.


Simon Njami

“Simon reminded me that it’s okay to just do what you want to do and what you can do without stressing too much about being perfect. Being in dialogue with the others reminded me that there are many people around with many projects and if we can just work together we can really make the difference.”

Raffaella Carillo, Master Class participant

What does it mean to be the author of your novel? Why are we doing what we are doing? What kind of change do we want to create around us? These and many other questions were at the center of the pilot edition of AtWork Digital Master Class conducted by master Simon Njami. The 9 young creatives who connected from 8 different countries deepened their self-discovery and discussed the projects they want to implement in their community. Four intensive days of critical reflection, discussion and construction of the project, chapter by chapter. A special thank goes to Aida Muluneh for her intervention and for the story of her experience in creating Addis Foto Fest and DESTA.

Moleskine Foundation created AtWork Digital Master Class with the collaboration of Sherif Osman.



Led by our advisor Simon Njami, the workshop was held on the Zoom platform from 1 to 4 July, with the final presentation on 11 July. Under his guidance, 9 young people from India, Cameroon, Mozambique, Italy, Nigeria, United Kingdom and Morocco and from different backgrounds met to discuss the meaning of the question critically: “What does it mean to be the author of your own novel?”. Day by day, the participants were confronted with questions and provocations that made them understand better why they would like to carry out their project and what kind of change they would like to see in their community. Day by day, they received the tools not to limit their imagination, dream big and be concrete, starting from the small to get to the big.


THE LEADER: Simon Njami

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 the Cairo Off Biennale in 2015 and of the 2016 and 2018 editions of Dak’Art, the art biennial in Dakar, Senegal.

“The way the masterclass was able to lead you to think more critically and practically while also, at the same time, encouraging you to think big and believe in yourself was astounding and unique. I hope you’ll keep doing this masterclass because it is really something different from other courses on social change and it has huge potential on young individuals.”

Francesca Szemere, Master Class participant.


AtWork Digital Master Class was the first fully digital experience; our thanks go to all participants to face the technological challenges and our facilitator Sherif Osman. Through discussions, visualizations, metaphors, exchanges of ideas, and feedback, the projects took shape in the digitally created objects. A community library in India, a socially engaged art gallery in Brighton, UK, a book publishing house in Nigeria, a youth awareness project in a neighbourhood in Morocco, a project to enhance the culture of the community through reconnection with non-colonial local languages in Nigeria, an art project to change the perspective on the concept of “the other” in Portugal, a welcome house with a community library and a place to exchange ideas, create and feel at home in Cameroon, a fashion brand with Ghanaian roots that reflects on complex and multifaceted identities in Italy. Now that the projects and goals have crystallized and become concrete in the participants’ minds, we can’t wait to see the fruits of the planted seeds that will start having an impact in the multiple diverse communities around the world.

“I learned not to limit my imagination. To think of an idea and elaborate it. I learnt that I create my own reality… I am inspired to think things out of the box and act upon the thoughts to make concrete change around me. It starts from me, before the others.”

Chantal Edie, Master Class participant


The objects and “novels”, that is, the concrete projects represented by the objects created by the participants as the creative output of the workshop, were exhibited in the virtual gallery, created with the help of Sherif Osman. You can visit the gallery here and here.

Participants list

Mehek Vajawatt

Chantal Edie

Sansão Zwane

Victor Reginald Bob Abbey-Hart

Ibitomi Ibiwumi Otunola

Arinze Oduburu

Raffaella Carillo

Iman Aboutajedyn

Francesca Szemere


With the support of: European Cultural Foundation

Workshop facilitator: Sherif Osman 

Observers: Pablo Fernandez Velasco e Jade Nijman, ENS (L’École normale supérieure) Parigi.