Running from the 4th of February to 3rd of April, Calvert 22 hosts the stunning Red Africa season, featuring an inspiring catalogue of events that explore the legacy of cultural relationships between Africa, the Soviet Union and related countries during the Cold War.

The season will present historical and contemporary responses to the geopolitical and cultural connections of African nations to the Soviet Union and related countries” – Calvert 22

Using various artistic disciplines, Red Africa Season will explore and uncover some of the stories throughout the 20th and 21st century in relation to Africa and its experiences amidst the backdrop of the Cold War.

Deeply informative, carefully selected and visually stunning exhibitions, music, talks and films await visitors – Things Fall Apart curated by Mark Nash being one of them.

In true What’s On Africa style, we present you with a top 10 ten list of events from the season making sure you don’t miss out.

Red Africa at Calvert 22 from Calvert 22 Foundation on Vimeo.

1. Visit Things Fall Apart

When: Wed – Sun, 12pm — 6pm

The highlight of the Red Africa season, Things Fall Apart will feature artists, filmmakers and groups from across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Drawing on film, photography, propaganda, and public art, the exhibition presents interdisciplinary reflections on African connections to the Soviet Union and related countries.

Curated by Mark Nash, the show gathers the responses of contemporary artists to different aspects of Soviet and related nations’ interests in Africa, particularly focused on ambitions to influence the development of political structures through film and art.

The exhibition reaches back to the beginning of the Soviet era through the work of Russian-American artist Yevgeniy Fiks. Fiks explores representations of black people in Soviet press and propaganda as early as 1920, which he presents through The Wayland Rudd Archive. The exhibition also re-examines relationships built during the height of the Cold War, including Tito’s 1961 visit to Africa.

Accompanying Things Fall Apart, a free series of curated films will expand on some of the themes explored in the exhibition. Continue reading to find some of the best featured films as part of Things Fall Apart and the Red Africa Season

Participating artists: 
Filipa César; Onejoon Che; Radovan Cukić and Ivan Manojlović (Museum of Yugoslav History); Angela Ferreira; Yevgeniy Fiks; Kiluanji Kia Henda; Isaac Julien; Stevan Labudović and Milica Tomić; Alexander Markov; Tonel; The Travelling Communiqué Group; Jo Ractliffe.

2. Watch Octobre by Abderrahmane Sissako

When: Wednesday 16 March 2016 7:00pm — 9:00pm

Octobre, Sissako’s second film, made while he was a student at VGIK, the the Moscow film school, is about the relationship between Ira, a young Russian woman working in a hospital, and Idrissa, an African student in Moscow. The film follows both characters in their daily lives as they experience casual racism of neighbours, the vibrant musical culture of African buskers on the metro, and arbitrary encounters of everyday life.

Filmed in a semi-vérité style, the film reflects the rather despondent mood of its characters: Idrissa’s impending departure for Africa looms, and Ira decides to conceal her pregnancy from him.

Book here.

3. Watch the Performance: The Solid Image – Notes on the “Luta ca caba inda” project

When: Tuesday 22 March 2016, 7:00pm — 9:00pm

Filipa César is an artist and filmmaker interested in the porous boundaries between the moving image and its public reception, the fictional aspects of the documentary praxis and the economies, politics and poetics inherent to the production of moving images. Between 2008–10, a great part of César’s experimental films have focussed on Portugal’s geo-political past, questioning mechanisms of history production and proposing spaces for performing subjective knowledge.

Since 2011, César has been researching the origins of cinema in Guinea-Bissau, its imaginaries and potencies, developing that research into the collective project “Luta ca caba inda” (The Struggle is Not Over Yet).

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Things Fall Apart artist, Filipa César, who will be offering an unique insight into the “Luta ca caba inda” project featured in the exhibition.

Book here.

4. Observe Yelena Khanga in conversation with Ekow Eshun

When: Thursday 03 March 2016, 7:00pm — 8:30pm

Yelena Khanga, the recognisable face of black Russia has epitomised the liberal wave that swept Russian television in the 1990s.

As a host of a popular chat show about sex—Pro Eto (About That)—she has opened a new chapter in both Russian journalism and the country’s tumultuous history of race relations. She is the daughter of Lily Golden, the prominent African-American social activist, and an author of the critically-acclaimed book Soul to Soul: A Black Russian American Family 1865-1992.

Yelena Khanga will join Ekow Eshun, the creative director of Calvert 22 Foundation, for a conversation about her life and career as a black journalist in the Soviet Union, the United States and modern Russia.

Book here.

5. See Picasso and Modern Africa

When: Thursday 17 March 2016, 6:30pm — 8:00pm

In this talk Picasso scholar Lynda Morris reveals the artist’s surprising historical engagement with politics and the peace movement and his many connections to Africa.

Picasso once made the statement to L’Humanité on the Liberation of Paris in 1944 that “Fascism is Racism”.  The artist focused on racism through various collaborations with figures throughout the world, including Alioune Diop of Présence Africaine, Aimé Césaire, Léopold Senghor, Mazisi Kunene of the ANC in London and Frank McEwen, the first director of what was then the Rhodes National Gallery in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. His final partner, Jacqueline, had also lived in Burkina Faso for four years with her first husband. Additionally, a set of photographs by the Argentine photographer Roberto Otero depict a confrontation in 1962 between Picasso and Joseph Hirshhorn, who owned mines in Katanga.

Lynda Morris curated Picasso: Peace and Freedom at Tate Liverpool in 2010, based on Picasso’s correspondence with the Museé Picasso in Paris. This talk won’t fail to provide  a worthy insight into the artist’s life.

Book here.

6.Watch Cuba, an African Odyssey by Jihan El-Tahri

When: Wednesday 23 March 2016, 7:00pm — 8:00pm

As part of Red Africa’s series of free film screenings El-Tahri’s award-winning documentary has been featured. It adds to our understanding of the African context of the Cold War. From 1961 to 1991, the continent was a battleground for four different competing interests: The Soviet Union wanted to extend its influence into a new continent; the U.S.wanted to take advantage of Africa’s natural resources; former European empires felt their grip on the area weaken; and newly formed African nations fought to defend their recently won independence.

Cuba, an African Odyssey explores how Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, gave critical support to Africa’s liberation movements. This influence was instrumental in advancing the decolonization process, which brought independence to much of the continent.

Book here.

7. Enjoy Red Africa Night featuring Kalakuta and DJ Edu

When: Thursday 25 February 2016 8:00pm — 11:00pm

Calvert 22  joins forces with The Africa Centre to present a night featuring some of the most innovative Afrobeat acts around as part of its new seasonal programme, Red Africa.

Hear the music of the incredibly talented guitarist Emeka Elendu with his tribute band Kalakuta and the hottest Afrobeat sounds, curated by the world’s leading African music ambassador himself, DJ Edu.

Book here.

8. Watch Teza by Haile Gerima

When: Wednesday 02 March 2016, 7:00pm — 9:00pm

Set in 1970s Ethiopia, Teza (Morning Dew) tells the story of a young Ethiopian as he returns from West Germany as a postgraduate. Anberber comes back to a country at the height of the Cold War and under the Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. Working in a health institution, he witnesses a brutal murder and finds himself at odds with the revolutionary party running the country. He is ordered by the regime to take up a post in East Germany and uses this opportunity to escape to the West until the Berlin Wall falls and Ethiopia’s military regime is overthrown.

Teza won the highest award at the 2009 Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, Special Jury and Best Screenplay awards at the 65th Venice Film Festival, and awards in five categories at  the Carthage International Film Festival in Tunisia.

Book here.

9. Watch Sans Soleil by Chris Marker

When: Wednesday 09 March 2016, 7:00pm — 9:00pm

This experimental essay film combines thoughts, images and documented actions mainly from Japan and Guinea-Bissau, “two extreme poles of survival”. Other scenes were filmed in Cape Verde, Iceland, Paris, and San Francisco, recreating what a female narrator reads from letters supposedly sent to her by the (fictitious) cameraman Sandor Krasna.

In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted Sans Soleil the third best documentary film of all time.

The film will be introduced by Christine van Assche, curator at large at Centre Pompidou and co-curator of the Chris Marker show for the Cinémathèque Française.

Book here.

10. Explore the Calvert Journal

The Calvert Journal is a guide to the contemporary culture of the new east: the post-Soviet world, the Balkans and the former socialist states of central and eastern Europe.

From art and film to architecture and design, avant-garde culture from these countries has helped shape our view of modern life. But it remains an underreported and unfamiliar part of the world to many.

This is the inspiration for The Calvert Journal, which covers the region’s culture and creativity through a mix of daily features, news, interviews and photography.

Before you immerse yourself in these events, be sure to explore the journal here.

Calvert 22 is a not-for-profit organisation committed to dialogue and discovery through the development of international creative networks. 

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