b. 1978, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Born and raised in Lubumbashi, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s once-prosperous Copper Belt, Sammy Baloji juxtaposes images from the past and the present and from the ideal and the actual in his art to reveal the cultural and historical tensions that shape his nation. Icons and ghosts from Congo’s past are heard in combination with present-day scenes of desolation to strikingly poignant effect as the artist explores the human body and architecture as witnesses to history and memory. Baloji has had solo exhibitions at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, the Museum for African Art in New York, and the MuZee of Oostende and Tervuren’s Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium. His work was featured at the 56th Venice Biennale and has appeared in many group exhibitions at other prestigious venues, including the African Photography Biennale of Bamako and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Among other prizes and awards, Baloji has received a Prince Claus Award and was partnered with Olafur Eliasson as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Baloji divides his time between Brussels and Lubumbashi.
b. 1958, England
Born in London and growing up in Addis Ababa, Belgrade, and Dakar before settling in Rome and Berlin, Theo Eshetu’s international upbringing informs his juxtapositions of African and Western outlooks within an increasingly shared global culture. Beginning in the 1980s, Eshetu’s focus on video’s expressive potential and his exploration of African cultures led to experimentation with photography, documentary film, television, and the aesthetics of video. Eshetu is recognized as one of the first artists to employ video-wall installations, and he frequently splits and mirrors moving images to dramatic kaleidoscopic effect. His documentaries have been screened at film festivals internationally, and his works have been presented in celebrated exhibitions such as GeoGraphics and Snap Judgments and at such noted venues as the American Academy and Museum of Modern Art in Rome, BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, the Kochi Muziris Biennial in India, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, Tate Britain, the New Museum along with several other institutions in New York, and the Venice and Roma Film Festivals. In 2014, the artist and exhibition curators participated in an invitational colloquium on time at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, Williams College, Massachusetts, that led to the development of Senses of Time.
b. 1961, Egypt
Born in Alexandria, Moataz Nasr now lives and works in Old Cairo. In his work, Nasr draws upon his individual heritage to bear witness to the complex cultural processes at play in the Islamic world today. At the same time, he also sets out to overcome particularism and geographical boundaries and give voice to the concerns and problems of the whole of the African continent. His work focuses on Egypt, but his goals are universal in their concern for the common fragility of human beings. Indifference, impotence, and solitude are shared human characteristics laid bare by Nasr’s multimedia use of painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation. Nasr has been featured in many important international art events, including the biennales of Bogota, Cairo, São Paulo, Seoul, and Venice, and many solo and group shows around the world including Africa Remix, African Marketplace, and The Divine Comedy.
b. 1964, South Africa
Berni Searle is a world-renowned South African artist working with photography, video, and film to produce works about history, memory, identity, and place. Often incorporating herself into her films, Searle stages narratives that explore issues of self-representation as well as relationships between personal and collective identities. Her poetic use of metaphor and ambiguity transcends specific contexts to draw on universal human emotions associated with displacement, vulnerability, and loss. Searle’s many awards include the Minister of Culture Prize at Senegal’s Dak’Art, a Rockefeller Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship, and the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in South Africa. Her work has been shown at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the Museum of Modern Art and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York, the Venice Biennale, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, among other prestigious venues. Searle is currently an associate professor at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town.
Yinka Shonibare MBE
b. 1962, England
London-born Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE is well known for his exploration of colonialism and postcolonialism in contemporary contexts of globalization. Working in painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation, and performance, Shonibare examines race, class, and constructions of cultural identity. His sharp political commentaries concern economic and political entanglements between Africa and Europe. Describing himself as a postcolonial hybrid, Shonibare wryly cites Western art history and literature to question the stereotypes embedded in contemporary cultural and national identities. After receiving an MFA from Goldsmiths College, Shonibare’s work won quick acclaim, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and added the “MBE” after his name. He has been featured at Documenta 10 and the Venice Biennale, and many noted global institutions hold Shonibare’s multimedia works in their permanent collections. In 2008–09, a mid-career survey of Shonibare’s work was shown in Brooklyn, Sydney, and Washington, D.C., while in 2011, another dedicated survey was presented in the United Kingdom at the Queen’s House London, the Royal Museums Greenwich, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, as well as at museums in Copenhagen, Gdansk, and Warsaw. Shonibare now resides and maintains his studio in the East End of London.
b. 1941, England
Known as an activist, author, curator, and internationally acclaimed artist, Sue Williamson moved to South Africa at the age of seven and has dedicated her adult life to achieving social justice and promoting the arts within its borders. She published the influential Resistance Art in South Africa in 1989 and founded the website ArtThrob in addition to producing important works of art that highlighted the under-recognized role of women in South Africa’s resistance movement, advocated for South Africa’s HIV-positive community, and provided dignified representation of the west and central African immigrants to South Africa in a time of xenophobia.Williamson’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Williamson has also participated in major international exhibitions including The Short Century, Liberated Voices, the Johannesburg Art Biennale in 1997 and 1995, the 1994 Havana Biennale, and the 45th Venice Biennale. In 2015, the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art featured a solo exhibition of her work. In 2014, the artist and exhibition curators participated in an invitational colloquium on time at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, Williams College, Massachusetts, that led to the development of Senses of Time.