The Chimurenga Library

The Showroom and The Otolith Collective present the Cape Town-based outfit Chimurenga. For their first UK presentation, Chimurenga will infiltrate The Showroom’s building in the form of The Chimurenga Library, inserting themselves into the existing frameworks, functions and structures of the space without displacing its everyday activities. Founded by Ntone Edjabe in 2002, Chimurenga (a Shona word that loosely translates as ‘struggle for freedom’) is at the centre of vibrant new cultural projection across Africa, which includes championing new music, literature and visual arts.

Drawing together myriad voices from across Africa and the diaspora, Chimurenga takes many forms operating as an innovative platform for free ideas and political reflection about Africa by Africans. Outputs include a journal of culture, art and politics of the same name, a quarterly broadsheet called The Chronic, The Chimurenga Library – an online resource of collected independent pan-African periodicals and personal books, and the Pan African Space Station (PASS) – an online music radio station and pop-up studio.

For the first five days The Chimurenga Library plays host to PASS with a live broadcasting programme of music, interviews and events with Chimurenga collaborators in London including musicians, journalists, writers, curators and filmmakers. The live broadcast studio will function amidst a major cartographic installation, mapping a series of ‘routes’ running throughout the building between the two floors.

These taped routes will link ideas with people, writing, research, music, publications, record cover design and other materials. Other events will take place off-site in different venues, extending these ‘routes’ still further. After the live broadcast studio closes, the sounds and images generated in this process will live on as part of the library installation until the show closes.

Areas of interest will include the work of photographer George Hallett – who used the book jacket and record sleeve as a curated exhibition space during the apartheid era; a critical look at the concept of and crude distinction drawn between Sub-Saharan and Arab Africa; and FESTAC ’77, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture held in Lagos from 15 January to 12 February 1977.

Working with many UK collaborators such as the London-based collective Sorryyoufeeluncomfortable and UK participants of FESTAC ’77, ideas, thinking and debate will move fluidly between events, environments, broadcasts, music and sound recordings, publications, archive material and objects.

Bringing together existing work, research material and areas of interest whilst at the same time expanding focal points, the project represents a moment of activation, interaction and expansion within a mobile and complex network of geographical and organisational contexts.

The London PASS is programmed by Chimurenga (Ntone Edjabe, Graeme Arendse and Ben Verghese), The Otolith Collective (Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar), Sorryyoufeeluncomfortable (Mahamed Abdullahi, Nadeem Din-Gabisi, Deborah Findlater, Laurél Hadleigh, Jacob V Joyce, Rabz Lansiquot, Nyasha Mangera-Lakew, Anni Movsisyan, Yusuf Musse, Salina Popova and Imani Robinson) and Pass Me the Microphone (Amanprit Sandhu and Hansi Momodu-Gordon). Guest presenters and interviewees include: Kinsi Abdullah (Numbi Arts), Larry Achiampong, Teju Adeleye, Agency for Agency (Barby Asante and Teresa Cisneros), Junior Boakye-Yiadom, Paul Bradshaw, Phoebe Boswell, James Currey, Dego (2000 Black), Christine Eyene, Bryan Gee, Henriette Gunkel, Hassan Hajjaj, Ayesha Hameed, Shabaka Hutchings, Anthony Joseph, Yoel Keenan, Kevin LeGendre, Jenny Mbaye, Michael McMillan, Christian Nyampeta, Zak Ove, Hardeep Pandhal, Pinise Saul, George Shire, Dele Sosimi, Tom Skinner, Marsha Smith, Matthew Temple, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Esa Williams and Rehana Zaman.

The project is co-curated by Chimurenga, The Otolith Collective and The Showroom, and has been supported by the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa and the British Council. The project is also generously supported by Wendy Fisher and Caro MacDonald & Mark McCain, with additional support from Kathy Robins. With thanks to Robert Devereux.

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of James Currey, George Shire, Christian Nyampeta, The Stuart Hall Library, Ros Gray, Henriette Gunkel, Kodwo Eshun, Matt Temple (Matsuli Records), George Hallett, Christine Eyene, Francois Larini, Lubaina Himid, Centre for Contemporary Art at University of Central Lancashire and John Akomfrah in loaning objects for the exhibition.

We also gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the British Library in supplying audio recordings for the exhibition. The recordings are drawn from the Library’s African Writers’ Club collection.


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