I feel like there was a very close relationship between the three co-curators and Bonaventure
The 12th edition of Les Rencontres de navegar por aquГ Bamako (Bamako Encounters) , a photography biennale that takes place in the capital of Mali, s of Consciousness. A Concatenation of Dividuals, the current project was conceived by its artistic director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and the team of three curators, namely, Aziza Harmel, Astrid Sokona Lepoultier, and Kwasi Ohene Ayeh. The exhibition is on view at a variety of venues in Bamako from the 30th of .
Aziza Harmel is a co-curator of Les Rencontres de Bamako. Aziza is currently developing a curatorial research program Qayyem, which will be roaming between Mass Alexandria (Alexandria), MMAG Foundation (Amman) and l’Appartement 22 (Rabat). In the interview conducted by Lesia Prokopenko, she talks about the structure and the concept of the biennale, her work on the project, the dialogue between the African diaspora and the continent, and zombification as a way to resist the immateriality of labor.
Aziza Harmel: It started with Bonaventure: he simply called me and said, “Listen, this is the last moment thing, Would you want to come on board and co-curate the 12 edition des Rencontres de Bamako with me?” Then he immediately sent me the proposal, and I was very interested.
Actually, I was always interested in working more in the continent. And I met Bonaventure in 2017, when I was working at documenta 14 as a curatorial assistant and the coordinator of the whole exhibition of Learning from Athens. .. It’s interesting that documenta 14, which was also quite a controversial one, with its idea of inclusion, brought my way all these beautiful chances and encounters. I am very thankful for this crazy and beautiful experience.
So I began working on Les Rencontres in late e to Berlin and started thinking about the public program in relation to the conceptual framework Bonaventure had proposed to us, we discussed it a lot at our weekly meetings.
She is an independent curator based in Tunis, Tunisia, who has in recent years worked at documenta 14 and Steirischer Herbst 2018
AH: I would say that it was pretty organic. Right now, looking back at it, I wouldn’t be able to tell who did what exactly, but it had quite a clear framework. Much of my work had to do with the public program, the talks and forums. Astrid was dealing a lot with the accompaniment of artists, and Kwasi did a lot of writing and worked on the film program… I feel like we had a lot of freedom. Kwasi was in Ghana: at the time he was in Accra and now he is in Kumasi, and Astrid is from Mali, but she moved to Paris, so she was traveling between Bamako and Paris. And I was in Tunis most of the time-or in Egypt. A lot of the conversations were taking place via Skype.
Sometimes things would get unbearably intense: we were understaffed, and it was impossible for us to do both the curatorial work and the production for 85 artists. I really salute the courage of my colleagues, they were amazing. Every time I was thinking, “This is it!” they would be supporting me and moving forward.
AH: It really took me some time to reappropriate it. In the conceptual notes that Bonaventure wrote, he talks about the album of Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach titled Streams of Consciousness, and how there is this back-and-forth motion, the flow between the two soloists, like a flow between the black African diaspora and the continent. And also there’s a flow in terms of taking a risk and putting yourself out there. To me, it was really about the inner voice and the idea of the flow. It began with the thinking about the possibility of freedom, the potentiality that each body could have that makes it able to have streams of consciousness. I was interested in the possibilities this could give: who could improvise, who could take a risk-and who was allowed to take risks. It’s about creating a space that allows these flows.