African Modernism exhibition to be showcased at the National Art Gallery
The Goethe-Institut Namibia will begin 2020 with African Modernism – The Architecture of Independence: a photographic exhibition, curated by Manuel Herz, which will open on 30 January at 18:00 at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN).
The exhibition will explore the pre and post colonial architecture of five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and will be flowed by side event and a social media competition with a cash prize of N$1000 per category.
Daniel Stoevesandt, Director of Goethe-Institut Namibia they have been in pursuit of this exhibition to visit Namibia for a while, primarily with the intention of sparking discourse on what independence means to the people of Africa and how that very special period directly after independence is manifested in architecture.
“The exhibition and its documentation of buildings that very often symbolize modernization through their architecture and the city’s urbanisation also function as tools of liberation and instruments for forming a new identity,” he added.
Snobia Kaputu, Chief Executive Officer of NAGN said this travelling exhibition’s relevance to Namibia and the country’s history cannot be overlooked. “The different eras of colonization in Namibia came with infrastructural change and therefore, Namibia is not an exemption to the experience of architectural change. For example, the forceful removal of people from the Old Location, where they were living in their own erected houses as per their traditional practices and having been moved to the outskirts, of Windhoek to a different architectural layout named Katutura ‘the place we do not want to go’ is of great importance,” she emphasised.
She highlighted that despite the violent history, inhabitants of Katutura now have access to better structures for housing and improved sanitation facilities, compared to those of the Old Location.
The photo collection of 80 buildings in Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Zambia capture the transition to independence during an economic boom in Africa that enabled political leaders to utilize architecture as means by which an independent nation expresses its national identity and mirror aspirations. The goal, very often, was to have the new buildings that were mostly designed by architects from Poland, Yugoslavia, Scandinavian nations, Israel and the former colonisers outshine those erected during the colonial era.