OZANGÉ | 1st Biennial of African Photography

From November 4, 2022 to January 29, 2023

La Térmica presents the first edition of the Spanish Biennial of African Photography, OZANGÉ, a cultural commitment that was born not only as an exhibition space for the work of current African photographers, with special emphasis on female creation, but is also conceived as a space for exchange, meeting and opportunity between continents.

The first edition of OZANGÉ, directed by the Gabonese-born visual artist Owanto, will be held in different venues in Malaga from November 4, 2022 to January 29, 2023 before traveling to other cities in Spain, Ivory Coast and Morocco.

Following in the footsteps of the great photography festivals in Africa that have given many artists international renown, the Biennial is not only an exhibition space with the presentation of a selection of the works of current photographers from the continent and the diaspora, but it is also conceived as a new space for this new generation of photographers who are beginning their entry into the European art market.

La Térmica and the Diputación de Málaga have organized this event, together with the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, the Málaga City Council, the University of Málaga, the Maroc Premium Foundation, the Museum of contemporary cultures Adama Toungara in Abidjan and the Spanish Embassy in the Ivory Coast as co-organizing entities.

OZANGÉ: Light

On clear days, the North African coast can be seen from the coast of Malaga, a view that feels like a revolutionary vision. The horizons, each from its own shore, remind us that, beyond those 14 kilometres of deceptively calm waters, we can see each other.

At present, the African and Eurasian plates are in a constant state of rapprochement. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine the opposite process: a slow rifting that began some 225 million years ago which turned Pangaea, a unique land surrounded by a single ocean, into the broken pieces that are our continents today.

Since that progressive event where earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, shaped the new landscapes, climates, physical boundaries and places to be, much has happened for humankind. While we live in human time, the earth continues to change at its own pace and Africa and Europe are approaching in a powerful slow way.

The new frontiers have been endlessly redefined in the course of that ancestral geological union, a conflicting journey that has challenged our bond to this day. From this present moment we can perceive how borders have evolved in complexity but at the same time, in the virtual space in which we all live, we are witnessing the creation of new ways of crossing, of meeting, of apprehending each other.

This new bridge is built of travelling questions that go back and forth, driven by the journey itself. As humanity and as artists we are in a constant search for meaning and we ask ourselves how to enlighten this path, how to make it more tangible to be crossed with conviction and without fear but with curiosity for the unknown.

Official section, tributes and retrospective

Although African music, dance, literature, theater, cinema and visual arts have been recognized for a long time, it was only in 1993, thanks to the international consecration of Malian Seydou Keïta, that the West discovered African photography. However, it had been introduced to the continent by settlers and missionaries shortly after its invention in Europe. But the diffusion in the old continent gave an image of Africa often made of clichés, subject to the desires of exoticism.

Today African photography is in full swing, and has been for almost ten years. There are many photographers who organize themselves into collectives to further professionalize their practice and gradually open up to institutions. The biennial therefore aims to bring together the work produced by contemporary photographers of African origin, and seeks in parallel to examine the way in which today’s African photographers create works as opposed to the legacy of colonial imagery that has too often determined the perception of Africa in the West.

It is Africa today that presents itself, that sees itself, that tells its story, that is an actress and is no longer subject to the Western gaze. However, to stage oneself, to tell one’s story, to present oneself, is to define oneself. This process of constantly redefining contemporary African identity is what makes photography of the continent so exciting.

Finally, the Biennial is committed to highlighting the work of female photographers and nurturing the history of photography from other narratives, in order to counteract a history of art that, too often, has overshadowed the contributions of women, promoting their invisibility in favor of male figures.

Likewise, it is committed to presenting a tribute and retrospective section, which collects the testimony of photography festivals that have shown the diversity, excellence and uniqueness of this creative art on the African continent since the early 1990s. In close collaboration with the director of the LagosPhoto Festival, Azu Nwagbogu, the Biennale will exhibit a selection of the most emblematic images presented throughout the history of this event.

Owanto – artistic director

The willingness to make way for the light is what has encouraged the creation of OZANGÉ, a brightness that does not blind but directs our attention to the highlights as well as to the shadows and shades that are generated by each of our partial gazes.

It is for that reason that I accepted the honour of being part of this first edition where the South of Europe, Malaga, becomes that bridge, that meeting point illuminated by a multiplicity of perspectives that raise the questions that we must look at together.

Photography has always been a powerful medium and today it is also an easily accessible source for reporting not only the state of world matters but the many and diverse perspectives on them.

Being an artist as curator, I am enormously grateful for all the help and advice given by fellow artists, curators and friends from the creative community. My gratitude also goes to my ancestors, for it is my mother tongue that lends its beautiful Omyènè word to the title of this Bienniale, OZANGÉ.

It is my utmost hope that we will be motivated to celebrate our oneness and embrace the positives.

Owanto.

Schedule

The first Spanish Biennial of African Photography OZANGÉ will be exhibited between November 4, 2022 and January 29, 2023 in Malaga. Later, it will travel to Madrid and other Spanish cities to be determined, to continue his journey through Africa in Abidjan and Essaouira, between 2023 and 2024.

Parallel to the exhibition, throughout the Biennial, associated cultural events will be organized such as conferences, workshops, photography contests and events, whose program is still in process.

 

Exhibition places in Málaga

The exhibition will be situated in four locations in Malaga:

Centro Cultural La Malagueta, Paseo Reding, 8
La Térmica, Avenida de los Guindos, 48
Contenedor Cultural Universidad de Málaga, Bulevar Louis Pasteur, 23
Calle Alameda Principal, Málaga

Confirmed schedule for the touring exhibition

The Biennale will begin its touring, from 2023 to 2024, at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, the Museum of contemporary cultures Adama Toungara in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and, thanks to Maroc Premium Foundation, it will be in the city of Essaouiria (Morocco)