There are a plethora of websites and blogs that promote technology, music, literature and other thematic areas, many of which do a great job covering Africa comprehensively.
Top quality websites that veer away from the stereotypical “traditional” African art and that promote, improve understanding and celebration of African arts in their entirety are thin on the ground.
We, therefore, decided to bring you what we think are the top 10 sites of note that any connoisseur of African art should not do without. Some are established sites run by Art scholars, entrepreneurs and others are relatively new and are the fruits of bloggers. What these sites all have in common, to varying degrees, is a passion for promoting the arts, especially visual contemporary arts both in Africa and to some extent in the African diaspora.
ASAI’s (Africa South Art Initiative) objective is “promoting and supporting the development of a critical discourse on the visual arts in Africa”. ASAI’s importance mainly derives from its drive to reconnect South African Art with both “African” art within South Africa (ie from those classified as “black” during apartheid and “African” Art from the rest of the continent. For those looking for a forum for debate and cultural activism ASAI will serve your needs.
AACHRONYM is a commendable blog run by the art historian, S.Okwunodu. His blog focuses on world wide African art and how it interacts with areas such as new media. AACHRONYM deals with a variety of socio-political issues, notably the cultural appropriation of art, the protection of intellectual properties of artists and the repatriation of stolen art.
African Digital Art (ADA) is run by Jepchumba, herself a digital artist amongst other things. ADA is described as “an online collective, a creative space, where digital artist enthusiasts and professionals can seek inspiration, showcase their artistry and connect with emerging artists”. ADA, we believe is the only fully fledged web 2.0 site amongst our top ten, with a quirky if not the biggest collection of African Digital Artists in a single web space.
ArtSpeakAfrica is run by Bisi Silva and mainly focuses on the Nigerian visual art scene. This site is the most comprehensive personal blog on the list. ArtSpeakAfrica gets up close and personal and is peppered with interesting stories about Nigeria and beyond. For a comprehensive blog that rarely misses an exhibition, expo or event in Africa’s most populous country, look no further than ArtSpeakAfrica.
African Colours, managed by Maggie Otieno, is an established site that was re-launched recently. The breadth of coverage of art news and events, passionate promotion of artists (over 300 to date) makes it a true guide to contemporary African Art. The arts forms showcased include design, fine art, mixed media, photography and sculptures and their coverage extends to the most obscure corners of Africa. It is regularly updated with a strong and vivid use of imagery.
Nka Journal is arguably the most authoritative source of information for African artists, curators and art historians in general. The editors, Chika Okeke-Agulu (Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University), Salah M Hassan (Professor of African and African Diaspora art history, Cornell University) and Okwui Enwezor (Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute) have as a group contributed enormously to contemporary African art. As one would expect from a group of scholars, the intellectual rigour deployed in discussing and analysing African art is unparalleled.
Creative African Network makes it into the top ten mainly because of its strong links with other networks such as the “Creative Caribbean Network” and the social networking site www.creativeafricanetworks.com . This site is sponsored by PUMA and, therefore, has the potential to fully utilise PUMA’s brand to introduce African fine art to new markets. Fine art is one strand of what is on offer on this site, design, fashion, film, architecture, photography, performance arts and dance are some of the others. The site has many features which include a cultural directory, an exchange page, events, biennials and many more.
The Contemporary Image Collective (CiC) is a North African based not-for profit initiative formed to “create a platform for production, exhibition, dissemination, research, education and exchange”. An important dynamic to CIC is it’s collaboration with artists on an international level to enhance exchange of ideas.
ArtThrob is an award winning South African based visual arts publication founded by Sue Williamson in 1997. Their site has comprehensive information on mainly South African art news, events and reviews. For tons of information and images on a large collection of contemporary South African artwork, look no further than ArtThrob.
The October Gallery makes it into the top ten for one very good reason. It provides the avid contemporary arts fan with a chance to view elite African artists in an international context. The Gallery has been instrumental in bringing to worldwide attention many of the world’s leading international artists, including El Anatsui, Rachid Koraïchi, Romuald Hazoumé, Nnenna Okore, Laila Shawa and Kenji Yoshida.
There may be other sites of equal quality to the ones mentioned above in the top ten. If you know of any, please feel free to add to the list by providing us with details (ie URLs) of the site(s) in the comments section below.
Contributors to the List: Gor Soudan and Nii Thompson