Albano Cardoso Web

Die Interviewausgabe: Albano Cardoso

ARTsouthAFRICA 13.1 is the ‘Interview Issue.’ In it, we engage in conversation with a number of carefully selected artists, curators, writers and organisations who we know are truly committed to transformation, to changing perceptions about contemporary African art practice, and promoting the integration of communities that might otherwise not be exposed to the wealth of talent from the continent and the ways in which art can change lives. We published a number of excerpts and now present Angola- based writer, photographer and artist Albano Cardoso’s full interview.

 Albano Cardoso Web
 
Is there such a thing as ‘African art’ and does the label “African Art” enable or limit artists from the continent? What qualifies an artist to call himself or herself an ‘African artist?’ Are the issues of labels and identity still valid?
 
Albano Cardoso: Art is an inherent result of the event of life on Earth. People will always produce and react to art. Hence, there is art being produced within Africa, and African artists operating (anywhere) in the world, either as part of a structured art system or not. “African Art” has been around for a long time. But why feed old perceptions into theory? Artists in Africa want to be seen as artists, because that’s what they do on a daily basis, that’s their job. You don´t practice being African, you just are; being African is not a bar code.
 
The label ‘African Art’ acts primarily as an inhibitor for audiences, and even for new art critics, to see beyond their preconceptions about Africa, and about art. These preconceptions can turn creators into prisoners, as the audience’s verdict is often the sole input for the artist to consider when it comes to feedback.
Why stick with hollow concepts that tend to diminish and restrict by labeling the role of the artist in society? I think s/he who is an African that makes art, is therefore an African artist. Why bother to tag? Lots of people have names that have no special meaning attached to them, and yet their lives do not become meaningless for that reason alone. So really, what’s in labeling? See, it all comes down to the fact that African artists are not used to the business of being pushed around by people who aren’t familiar with the foundations and ceilings of art economics, for instance. Some people assume there’s room for dictatorship in the arts, or that you should produce only state art, for example.
 
Als Künstler kämpfen Sie so oft, und dann sterben Sie. Wenn Ihre Arbeit zufällig kunsthistorische Relevanz erlangt, werden wir Zeuge der Aneignung dieser Bilder. Wir sehen es als reine Kultur in zukünftige Generationen geschaufelt, obwohl diesem bestimmten Schöpfer zu Lebzeiten keine Hilfe angeboten wurde, ohne zu wissen, wie sich die Individualität im Zentrum dieser Arbeit entwickelt.
Afrika ist eine neue Wirtschaftsgrenze, an der junge Menschen die Zukunft Afrikas gestalten. Was möchten sie sehen, hören und lesen, das sie dazu inspiriert, afrikanische Kunst und Kultur anzunehmen?
 
Young people will eventually shape the world anyway, right? I am keen to speak to the emerging class of young executives and African entrepreneurs about really supporting local art. Certainly, by encouraging them to slowly start new art collections, but also to help them realise that the money they make and the freedom they enjoy today are the result of major cultural achievements, like political independence from Europe for example. Thus, society should leave space open for the artist to comment in order to learn that arts and culture are intrinsic to the debate about our nations, cities, and villages. We need to consider art as an ally in shaping our children’s education, and building peace, but, as it stands, how far are today’s parents from art galleries and good books? That’s what’ll dictate the future in Africa. If you follow the hot issues concerning the continent (be it religion, violence, women’s rights or homosexuality) the youngsters are often more stubborn, the conservative soldiers; they’ve been formatted by their parents without knowing it. Sometimes its scary to call it “the future” when it’s tainted all over by the past, and ignores the present.
 
Es kann argumentiert werden, dass Afrikas Zeit jetzt ist. Wie bereiten wir uns darauf vor, die Chancen, die sich ständig vor uns bieten, voll auszuschöpfen? Noch wichtiger ist, wie positioniert sich das afrikanische zeitgenössische Kunstinstitut als "Global Player", dessen Stimme gehört und respektiert werden kann?
 
I could rap on about how artists need to stand up and make their voices heard, how they need to exist within working collectives and so on and so forth. It is true that, in Africa, the heavy burden of civil war has not allowed for the flourishing of good school education, but we need to remember that the art market needs a boost too. The building of new facilities like roads, schools, factories and so on continues without expanding towards art venues. The new tall buildings (corporates) are not buying work from local artists, so I don’t know how we intend to be a ‘global player’ if we can’t achieve success locally. Art and artists shouldn’t have to walk alone, different sectors should merge in order to build up solid solutions.
Einige auf dem Kontinent sind der Ansicht, dass die zeitgenössische Kunst Südafrikas eher "westlich" als "afrikanisch" ist. Wie überbrücken wir die geografische und kulturelle Kluft zwischen Norden und Süden?
 
Should African musicians not be allowed to play western instruments either? Not everything is as western as it may appear! The same goes the other way around. Some people are still struggling with these boundary issues, but I don’t think that artists suffer from that problem. Otherwise we’d still be painting in caves, or happy just selling our art on the side of the road. I think the issue should be seen more like urban vs. rural, or history vs. future, instead. How grounded are you, ancestrally, when facing today’s events? How far are you at any given time from a road, a major city, a university, or even from a computer? Ultimately, smart tech will continue to seduce us and force us to be part of a deep globalisation that continues to happen electronically. I haven’t seen Africans discriminating about adopting European cars, or laptops, or about wearing a pair of American Levi’s. Rather on the contrary, in fact; so the concept of “western” becomes twisted even before we even take into account the amount of American Dollars that foreign investors make out of Africa.
 
It can also be seen as an issue of modern vs. traditional. Of course, many people value tradition, but Africans also want to keep up with the world, as we are very aware that the continent’s economic underdevelopment, corruption, and unqualified labor act as hurdles to a speedy improvement on schooling, jobs, and life in general. I don’t think French people today think less of themselves compared with their ancestors. Picasso was Spanish, lived in France, and became acquainted with African art through sculpture. Societies will not remain the same, because people won’t either. So, to impose, or to expect, that we should live like our ancestors did, is to enjoy seeing Africans as permanent outsiders of the global economic structure.
 
Ist ein neuer transnationaler "afrikanischer Kunstdialog" erforderlich, um die verschiedenen Gespräche, Herausforderungen und Erfolge anderer afrikanischer Kultur- und Denkzentren in den Vordergrund zu stellen?
 
Just like Bob Marley said, “It takes a revolution to make a solution”, and revolutions tend to work better when synchronized. The problem is that in some places, like Angola, for instance, mistrust can occur after the flop of events like Luanda’s Triennial of Arts, or the way that the Artist’s National Union is proudly ruled with such inefficiency.
Wenn Afrika seine Vorstellung von Afrika als Geographie oder als postkoloniale Reaktion oder als durch Schwärze definiert hinter sich lassen kann, kann es dann eher als neue dynamische Energie definiert werden?
Do you see how quickly global information and the development occurring in other regions is shaping things around us? I often like to think that I am Africa; you are Africa. Every single person represents it individually. That’s one way of getting things done, on an individual level, otherwise the mismatch will continue to occur as Africa doesn´t represent the sole body/mind everybody is talking about. We cant expect progress to happen magically.
Es gibt eine neue Generation von Afrikanern, deren Geist nicht von einer Vergangenheit der Unterdrückung oder Machtdynamik gefesselt ist. Wie engagieren und inspirieren wir sie, Kunst und Kultur anzunehmen?
 
South Africa has its unique history, and the same goes for every single country on the African continent, but we share common ground in that art has always been made, regardless of our adversities, right? So why don’t we further improve all aspects of its legacy?
Ich glaube auch, dass der einzig ehrliche Weg, Tradition zu tragen, darin besteht, ihren kulturellen Geist und nicht unbedingt ihre Formen in Angriff zu nehmen und gleichzeitig Wissen und Infrastrukturen aufzubauen, um die Kunstausbildung aufzunehmen und zu verbreiten. Kreativität sollte am Leben erhalten werden.
 
Wie können wir verhindern, dass schlechte historische Präzedenzfälle und Schubladen unseren zukünftigen Diskurs bestimmen?
 
We need to find and assemble strong partners who are focused, not only on profit but also on public education. We should be producing thoughtful content about artists and the local art scene. By exposing art to the public majority, so that people don’t just hear about it but rather experience it first hand, then, maybe, audiences will see themselves reflected in the freedom that art exercises.
Welche neuen Identitätsgeschichten werden für dieses Afrika durch seine Kunst offenbart?
I’m not so sure, but for instance I’ve been talking to some people in Brazil because I believe there´s more than religion, more than slavery that binds us together with the diaspora; there are today’s and tomorrow’s dreams to fulfill our souls.
 
Was ist afrikanische Kunst, wenn sie nicht mehr afrikanische Kunst heißt?
 
It sounds like you want a prophecy from me, but I do not know that much. I guess Africans will still be around for a long time, despite the odds. I’m just an African that reveals himself through art.
 
Was wird afrikanische zeitgenössische Kunst darstellen, wenn Afrika entsteht, transformiert und Energie gewinnt?
 
It represents the pulse of a current, living, screaming social existence to which the artists belongs, whether reflecting his/her point of view, contemplating the feat of the cosmos, or telling us about the traditional culture of the fishermen in his hometown. They say that, as Africa emerges, it’s crucial to listen to, read, and see the work of its artists, as they are the ones who are in touch with people’s daily lives. How can you invest in Africa without noticing the intellectuality of its art? Before good anthropology can take place, we need to look beyond the politicians that never set foot outside of their luxury cars and offices.
 
Was sind die tiefsten Provokationen, die Kunst heute für Afrika darstellen sollte? Und wie werden diese in 15 Jahren Afrika beeinflussen?
 
I am not good at making these sorts of predictions, but I truly believe that art in Africa shall rise and continue to be art, earning benefits for its constitutional foundations, and benefitting also from the investment happening throughout the continent. If everything is changing, why art should stay the same? We should see changes for the lack of public libraries, art galleries, literature, and theater and music venues, just as we see changes and upgrades to our roads. Why is everybody, but the artist, saying what the place for art is in today’s society? Answering these kinds of questions will definitely influence life in Africa for better or for worse, accordingly.
 
Welche Ansätze werden sich in der Kunstpraxis und im Diskurs widerspiegeln, wenn die alten Ideen von Nord und Süd - Ost und West dekonstruieren?
 
The problem is that all these kinds of ‘compass’ ideas were never designed, conducted, or reflected by ‘art activists’; being they artists or institutions. So why should we blindly follow strategies that place us artists as mere entertainers at the big financial party that rules all our lives?
Was sehen wir im Zuge eines selbstbewussten transnationalen Afrikas als den fortschrittlichsten Ansatz, den die „afrikanische Kunst“ verfolgen kann, und was repräsentiert dieser Ansatz und welche neuen Qualitäten besitzt und stellt er dar?
The trade of courage and the mechanisms of making art must be shared among us. We need to reflect upon our responsibilities and impose demands that need to be taken in account, as a class with our own rights. We need to give our full attention if we’re going to contribute to the shape of a truly free, and therefore democratic, Africa.
 
Für eine neue Generation, die nicht bereit ist, sich in die Dramen der Vergangenheit zu integrieren oder von den Anliegen einer früheren Generation definiert zu werden, fordert die Kunst neue Orthodoxien heraus, um neue Plattformen für Kunstpraxis und -diskurs zu schaffen, die kreative und intellektuelle Köpfe zusammenbringen.
Sind die aktuellen Stimmen und Medien des heutigen "Kunstbetriebs" noch relevant? Können sie den aktuellen Zeitgeist einfangen? Wie sollten wir die neue Generation einbeziehen, um unserem Diskurs ein Gefühl von Nervosität zu verleihen?
 
Even if for only that reason, art in Africa has to be able to tell this ‘new generation’ about the battles for social improvement that need to to be taken up and sustained. The fear of retrogress is too heavy to consider.
In Angola at least, the battle hasn´t started from the beginning, so it’s harder now for artists as they are alone, without the local media being able to keep up, unable to master skills beyond the pre-basics, to be polite. I believe social media will play a huge role too, as artists will have to master being vocal about their work.
 
Wer ist der neue afrikanische Kunstheld?
 
There’re so many ways of resisting the worst to come, as the effort of making art in Africa attests to. But most likely, the hero is the African continent itself; it is a unique panoramic presence. Wherever one travels in Africa there is still an abundance of hope and pain, always hand in hand. How do you help people learn the necessary tools for overcoming adversity? That could be where the African artist plays his/her role.
 
Gibt es etwas, was Sie hinzufügen möchten?
 
Please buy and learn about my new photo-book. I’m focusing on engaging new audiences in the city, but I am struggling in my hometown to put together an art show with the pictures from the book and to finally launch it publically, to seal a painful five-year endeavor. There are no art galleries in Angola. I’m also looking for an agent gallery right now to represent my work, photography and painting.
 
Albano Cardoso ist ein Schriftsteller, Maler und Fotograf, der 1966 in Luanda geboren wurde. Nachdem er in seinem Heimatland Sprache unterrichtet, in den USA studiert und in den USA, Portugal und Australien gelebt hat, schreibt und veröffentlicht Cardoso heute Bücher in Angola.
Er unterrichtete Portugiesisch an einer öffentlichen Schule.
Albano besuchte das College in den USA und lebte in den USA, Portugal, Osttimor und Australien.

Bücher:
Atlético Petróleos de Luanda - Uma História Desportiva, 2005. H / C, Sportgeschichte, 356 Seiten.
 
Tic-Tacteando O Florescer da Idade, 2010. Poesie / Portugiesisch.
 
Letztes Jahr hat Albano ein neues Fotobuch gedruckt, das ein Beispiel für Arbeiten und Praktiken in der SADCC-Wirtschaftszone ist. Es wurde in Kapstadt, Südafrika produziert
Unter Überwachung | Sob Vigilância, 2013. Fotografie, H / C, 204 Seiten.
 
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