HOME and ABROAD.
For the curatorial discourse of this 2009 edition of ewaBAMIJO, we propose "HOME and ABROAD" as the theoretical basis from which we hope to explore our critical vision. under the Artistic direction of Qudus ONIKEKU.
Context and Rationale:
Contemporary dance in Africa has struggled for a while to overcome problems like accessibility by local audience, finance and lack of Infrastructures, power and lacks critically in legislation. Dance-forms other than traditional dances in contemporary Africa, are very similar to all imported or foreign activities in the society at large, reserved particularly for the expatriates and the elite class, it is obviously there present in the society but it has been suspending and surviving in a sort of extinction, never had the ability to come to rest and be integrated in the society we operate. Moreover, there is only a thin line between the artiste and his society, paradoxically we get fame and gain grounds outside our primary society, and all these is as a result of the standards and circumstances at which we operate our art "HOME and ABROAD."
We are convinced that the notion of HOME for many artist of the 21st century varies, it could be only but, a series of thoughts, images and sensations - a CONCEPT - a cherished aspiration, ambition and ideal, it perhaps exist only in our self/deluding fantasy - Not in real-time. Maybe this earth is an eternal ABROAD after all, and so said Faustine Linyekula 'Maybe my only county is my body', but on what basis does our art excel at 'home'? The art market or its practice? Our proposition of "HOME and ABROAD" as the theme for this first international edition of ewaBAMIJO, is not a denial of the existence, importance and rewards of this intellectual tradition; but in many ways to further seek a place for the entrenchment of cultural and racial, economic and other fundamental differences under the machinery of globalisation.
Reality has proved to us that, due to our lack of infrastructure and audiences structure, many African creators make their works ready mostly for exportation in order to survive as artistes, not only for economic balance, but for their sanity and survival of their creativity, productivity, and pride in the companies they run, this irreproachable trend also have a reverse effect on our primary society. As we have seen in the recent past that a higher percentage of African audience has practically lost interest of live arts to showbiz and home movies, The basic interest of this initiation is primarily to review our basis and bring back attention to the Theatre. We believe that at this present point of our encounters, after many decades of pre|post colonial exchanges and several hand shakes with the world, it is high time we became focused on internal issues. More so, as we live in a new media world saturated with technological advancement, coupled with our vast resource of indigenous professionals, we only need to appropriate all these ready made elements as our own means and apparatus, as well as using maximized effort to sculpt our art face and divert some sluggish energy into a steady and positive change reaction.
A moment of reflection around DANCE in contemporary African...
History itself is shaped and written in bias towards the present day reality, and slightly directed to favour the orientation at which the future is dreamt of by the powerful, and so as contemporary dance in Africa, America and Europe and elsewhere where 'political correctness' matter, the ideals and the writings of contemporary dance on a global world-view has enriched itself on the inevitable notion of identity, race, gender and class. Far from identifying the contemporaneity of our dance in Africa or branding it for that matter, but approaching it from a viewpoint which doesn't ignore the state of affairs of our collective economic, social, political and cultural reality as a people. In the era of post colonialism, post modernism and post world war II, other art forms had exercised continuous revolutionary concepts that transformed into leading discourses guarded by 'political correctness'. As 'African' dance practitioners, it is inevitable to disregard the question of identity, color and other baggage of history, due to the direct exposure of our naked bodies and the visible twist of cultural expressions, which has in turn triggered a series of resistance in the part of traveling dance practitioners, as against exoticism and second class validation, if not third. However, this construction and continuous resistance have also adversely developed an institutionalised pluralistic landscape that has today turned into a combative affirmation of an ideology, and unfortunately a new form of stereotyping.
For some years, major international organisations and parastatals around the world, have worked towards building up 'discursive platform for a cacophony of African voices' outside Africa, and emphasizing 'correctness' in cultural politics; these have of course created more talks that hinder actions, it has stated more obvious problems than proposing solutions, but unconsciously succeeded to the neglect of the core existence of the young and alternative artist's project in the continent, creating further fiesta of the ex-colony and the ex-colonised, an independent pursuit of illusive relationship through artistic endeavors. Fundamental problems transformed into cocktails and social rendezvous of the dominant sect, through which the new order is defined to create restriction for liberal artistic expressions. In this first edition of EBJ we wish to draw attention to the 'political (in)correctness' of traditional trends which led to the dominative power play of multiculturalism, globalisation, identity politics and post-colonial discourse. Urgent issues facing contemporary dance today, that we wish to make a scandal of is; How do we establish an 'ethics of difference and mutual respect' within the framework of dissimilarities in cultural production and functionality? Is DANCE in contemporary Africa: An imported household branding or a local craft for export? How do we prevent 'Hegemony' without sacrificing the grounds already gained against the power status quo at Home and Abroad? By Re/Moving boundaries, are we certain of creating larger territory for dreams?
Core principles of the EBJ biennial: Negations
Africa has been told and shown constantly through western eyes, and in funny way we end up seeing ourselves through western judgment. To trail the proposition of the 3rd GUANGZHUO Triennial, ewaBAMIJO may be as well understood as a locus of questions for the international art world, boom time of fresh breeds hailing from cities yet to come around the world, as history has been written based on the intuition of a few and rules always made for us to follow, we have the conviction that there are lots of lies in history and we are set to deny everything regarded as 'truth' to lead the way for our discovery, the existence of this Biennial will be a process of discovery for ourselves; not just the fulfilling of preconceived ideas. Instead of claiming what this Biennial 'is', we wish to find out what it should not be.
The Self Imagining of ewaBAMIJO is an Ètude in Negation ...
Neither global nor local; Neither Western nor African; Neither mainstream nor independent, Neither tourist spectacle nor high art. Not multiculturalism; Not tribalism; Not post-colonialism; Not identity politics; Not sociological report; Not alternative modernity; Not showcase of new stars; Not competition for superiority; Not a celebration of our heroes and wins, Not further affirmation of all possible swear words, such as **gritudism... By saying 'Home and Abroad' we call for the renovation of the practices and theoretical interface of contemporary dance around the world, to depart from its all pervasive socio-political discourse, but work together with other kind of artists, scholars, students, critics and our audience, to discover new modes of thinking and develop new analytical tools for dealing with today's world, and bring attention to the 'limits of globalisation'.