Digital Imaginaries – Africas in Production

Research and exhibition project in Karlsruhe, Johannesburg and Dakar – funded by the TURN fund

Project description

Collective images can shape public perception of what Africa was, is and could become in the future. According to the postcolonial visionary Édouard Glissant (1928-2011), these different “Africas” can be described as a technological web of relationships which extend far beyond the physical boundaries of the continent. In this sense, Africa is not so much a vision as it is a relational category which can comprise any number of contradictory possibilities. Yet how did these Africas originate? Based on science, technology and post-colonial studies, it is evident that cultural techniques are influential in constructing collective concepts

Digitalisation is playing a crucial role in the radical transformation taking place throughout Africa. The digital practices developed on the continent are changing African societies and how they are perceived around the world. Apps and digital content created in African nations have become increasingly prevalent in the global technological market. Despite the widespread dissemination of mobile phones, Africa’s digital infrastructure is marked by local and global asymmetries. Well-networked digital hubs and scenes have appeared alongside new forms of digital inequality. The fact is that digital innovations and applications in Africa still rely on infrastructures that are dominated by the Global North and increasingly by China. This project aims to address the contradictory diversity of digital progress on the African continent and highlight the necessity to imagine the digital sphere in a richer, more multifaceted and global manner.

The project brings art institutions together to explore the relationship between art and science, and in so doing, artistically and scientifically investigate conceptual techniques of the self, of gender and the state. For each exhibition, the project coordinators plan to commission artistic works which reflect on their production conditions and unmask the fact that exhibitions themselves are colonial techniques that contribute to producing images of Africa.

This project is organised in cooperation with the independent Centre for Digital Art Kër Thiossane and the Afropixel Festival in Dakar, the Wits Art Museum, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival in Johannesburg, the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the ZKM Karlsruhe.

Artistic director: Julien McHardy (NL); Research director: Richard Rottenburg (DE); Curators: Marion Louisgrand Sylla (SN), Julien McHardy (NL), Fiona Rankin-Smith (ZA), Philipp Ziegler (DE); Advisory curators: Elvira Dyangani Ose (GB), Neo Muyanga (ZA)
Participating artists: Younes Baba Ali (MA), Tegan Bristow (ZA), Serge Attukwei Clotted (GH), Layla Gaye (SN), Neo Muyanga (ZA), Marcus Neustetter (ZA), Myriam Syowia (KE), Grada Kilomba (PT), João Orecchia (ZA)

Additional dates

  • 1 May -15 Jun. 2018, Kër Thiosanne Villa for Art and Multimedia/Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar – workshop, exhibition
  • 1 Aug. -30 Sep. 2018, Wits Art Museum (WAM), Johannesburg - exhibition

TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries

In 2012, the Federal Cultural Foundation established the TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries in order to encourage a wide range of German institutions to shift their focus on the artistic production and cultural debates in African countries.


No upcoming events at present

Previous events

  • 17 November, 2018 to 17 March, 2019:

    Eröffnungswochenende: 17./18.11.18: Mit Künstler/innen aus verschiedenen afrikanischen Ländern, einem Coding-Workshop und einem Maker's Brunch.

    ZKM, Karlsruhe

  • 17 November, 2018 to 17 March, 2019: Exhibition

    ZKM, Karlsruhe


ZKM - Zentrum für Kunst- und Medientechnologie

Lorenzstr. 19
76135 Karlsruhe (external link, opens in a new window)