Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Machteld Leij

text: email

Marcel Pinas: Tembe Afaka


During the last few years discussions have been going on in The Netherlands, addressing colonialism and its complex influence in the present. This discussion is most present in the field of arts, where exhibitions show artists who counter eurocentrism while reflecting upon their own identities, upon humanity and inhumanity. Pinas’ art works resonate with this discussion, as he is already rather entangled in the fabric of the art world, in Surinam as well as in The Netherlands.

Machtel Leij on the recent exhibition Tembe Afaka of the Surinamese artist Marcel Pinas.

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Omer Fast

FastContinuity (Diptych)2012-2015c

Fast aims to question the way a recollection can be a construction, rather than a fact. It gives him freedom to embrace complex storytelling, and as he interweaves the fantastical with the mundane his movies become confrontational, they question the humanity, or the lack of it, in today’s global conflicts.

Machteld Leij on the films of Omer Fast
Continuity (Diptych), 2012-2015.

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Paulo Nazareth


As other artists and scholars have targeted ethnographical museums effectively, questioning their colonial heritage, Nazareth adds elements of his personal history to the discourse. While loosely knitting together elements and fragments of histories and his own adventures, Nazareth’s actions evoke a sense of a search for fairness. It seems as if loops and holes exist, little pockets of time and space in between his performances, his writing, in the way he talks his mix of languages, his broken English, that provide room for interpretation and for engagement.

Machteld Leij on Paulo Nazareth.
Untitled (from the Para Venda [for sale] series), 2011.

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Isaac Julien


“Isaac Julien wanted to show how the art world is functioning as a capitalist venture. So from hedge fund manager, to auction and even the cleaning lady that works for an art collector, they are all working in a way within the art world, although its mechanisms could easily be stretched to fit a more general model of society. However, the characters lack relief. Even in their enthusiasm or grief, they are stuck in their role as an archetype in the story of capitalism. That fact alone causes a distance between film and viewer. ‘Playtime’ is too much of a sketch, instead of a forceful story.”
Machteld Leij on ‘Playtime’ of Isaac Julien.

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Museum Arnhem


‘The art itself is ever so important. You have to understand, we are not going to exhibit just any art because it is made by a female artist, or an African artist for that matter. It’s all about the art itself. I especially value art that is, in one way or the other, an expression of a particular critical stance, may it be against sexism or racism, or art that addresses the relationship between art and economy. ‘

Machteld Leij interviews Mirjam Westen about non-western art.

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