This is an essential show

Ayọ̀ Akínwándé

July 3rd – August 7th, 2021.

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From October 1st, 2020, to January 1st, 2021, Nigerian artist, activist, curator and writer Ayọ̀ Akínwándé lived and worked in Zurich, as an artist-in-residence at Gastatelier Gleis70. During these pandemic months, he worked on several multimedia projects –from photography, sculpture, installation to video, performance and text– that will be presented at la_cápsula.

The coronavirus pandemic led to an explosion of new vocabulary and phrases, and a key word in the title of the exhibition “Essential”, which has been central to the discourses on mobility and accessibility, became a way for the artist to continue his ongoing engagement with the subjects of migration and mobility, in the contexts of people, politics and power. Is culture essential in these times? Is this an essential exhibition? Who and how do art exhibitions help?

As Claire Bishop has concisely stated, (Euro-American) contemporary art “has been accompanied by a utopian rethinking of art’s relationship to the social and of its political potential –manifested in a reconsideration of the ways in which art is produced, consumed and debated” (2012: 3). Art, then, would be a sort of playground in which to imagine and test possible or better presents and futures. If only we all enjoyed the same circumstances. If only we were all entitled to playfully create.

But history has left countless cuts and scars around the world. “For much of humanity, history has been a process of habituating oneself to the deaths of others —slow death, death by asphyxiation, sudden death, delegated death. These accommodations with the deaths of others, of those with whom we imagine to have shared nothing, these many ways in which the springs of life are dried up in the name of race and difference, have all left deep traces in both imagination and culture and within social and economic relations. These cuts and scars prevent the realization of community. And the construction of the common is inseparable from the reinvention of community” (Mbembe, 2017: 183).

This is, thus, an essential show, for it offers a space in which to question our contemporary globalized sense of community. Akínwándé's research interests intersect –migration, mobility, borders / politics, power, imperialism / race, identity, people–. All these issues challenge and tauten the construction of a common ground.