According to tradition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is celebrating “Africa Day”, to mark the anniversary of the establishment, on 25 May 1963, in Addis Ababa, of the Organisation of African Unity, which changed its name to African Union in 2002. This year, due to the pandemic situation, the Foreign Ministry has created a “virtual exhibition” aimed at showing to the general public some of the main works of art from Africa displayed both in international museums and in Italy. The event, sponsored by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), will be streamed on 25 May (for more information visit the website esteri.it and the Foreign Ministry’s social media channels).
At the opening of this celebratory event (lasting approximately 50 minutes), there will be a welcoming speech by Minister Luigi Di Maio, followed by a speech by Fidèle Sambassi Khakessa, the Ambassador to Rome of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the country holding the Presidency of the African Union for the current year. Vice Minister Sereni and representatives of international organisations specialising in the conservation of the archaeological heritage – the Director General of ICCROM, Webber Ndoro, and the President of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), Maurizio di Stefano – will then close the meeting with their speeches.
The virtual exhibition has been set up in collaboration with CMS Cultura – an agency specialising in the production of exhibitions and displays – and will be guided by Dr. Micol Forti, Director of the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Contemporary Art. The exhibition celebrating Africa Day is intended to give voice to the artists, who are the direct protagonists of the extraordinary cultural universe of the continent. This video contribution is conceived as an exploration of Africa’s cutting-edge art, entering the artists’ studios, giving us a closer insight into their vision of art and life, going beyond the institutional academic and museum-based approach. Together with the artists’ voices, visitors to the exhibition will be able to admire their works which – better than any other image – will be able to provide an account of the identity of a rich, original and independent production.
Thirteen artists have participated in this celebratory project, coming from very different regions of the continent: Fatou Kande Senghor, Soly Cissé and Seni Camara are from Senegal, Dawit Abebe from Ethiopia, Troy Makaza from Zimbabwe, Malala Andrialavidrazana from Madagascar, El Anatsui from Ghana, Ifeoma U. Anyaeji and Peju Alatise from Nigeria, Ghizlane Sahli from Morocco, Gonçalo Mabunda from Mozambique, Barthélémy Toguo from Cameroon, and Mathilde Moreau from the Ivory Coast. Videos of their testimonies will be accompanied by a digital exhibition of some of their most iconic creations, totalling almost 40 artworks.
The artists involved in this project celebrating “Africa Day”, and the partnership between Italy and Africa, represent different modes of expression but are in some way connected to the topics that will be addressed at this year’s G20 meetings, of which Italy holds the Presidency: environmental sustainability, peaceful conflict resolution, migration, respect for women, harmony and balance in community living.
“Africa Day” is part of a 2021 calendar of considerable importance for Italy’s relations with the continent, which will culminate in the Ministerial event “Meetings with Africa” (7-8 October).