Breakfast Live Exclusive | Clementine Deliss

Clémentine Deliss works across the borders of contemporary art, curatorial practice, and critical anthropology. She is Global Humanities Professor in History of Art (2021-2022) at the University of Cambridge and Associate Curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin.

She has acted as a consultant for the European Union in Dakar and various cultural organizations, and conducted specific research projects through the support of art academies in Vienna, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bordeaux, Bergen, Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm, and London.

As an independent curator she has organized a number of exhibitions in Europe. she was the artistic director of Africa ’95, an artist-led festival coordinated with the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

‘’I think there is this absolute desire by the artist to set up infrastructures and not to wait for politicians to do it or certainly not for outside foundations or foreign money to do what could be done locally. And so at the time that I was working in Senegal, there was a lot of engagement with that. Even if you look at the immediate post-independent period, the early 60s, you would see how for example in Nigeria the artist will take over the colonial art academy.

I think it exists today, the difference between today and thirty years ago is today we have the internet and that appears to make contact easier but at the same time, you still have to find people you can exchange ideas with, who you can trust. It is not always obvious on the internet. So you have to go to these countries. You cannot have really had a good understanding of an artist scene unless you are there and meet the people and the artist. Even if Instagram gives you a sense of what might be produced it reduces it’’.

Clémentine Deliss

‘’ I think de la repertoire was a collective. Collectives are always fascinating because everybody wants to hold on to their mythical state of a collective for example with Alhaji Sey in 1995, we took over a former Chinese workers village that have been set up to build a stadium with a micro worker from China and then there was this desire to rethink how the normal person, the public, the wider audience can be brought to appreciate art.

Alhaji Sey would hang his works on the streets. It was also a defiance of the ministry, defiance of the biennial because one of the first biennials was in Dakar in 1992. I think what Ibrahim Mahama is doing today is in the same line. It is obvious in a different capacity. Because today we have a much more evolved art market and a global art market.

I think what he is doing in Tamale is extraordinary. I mean it is really laudable and it is so fast to get everything running like this. And so open-minded to have school children coming and also to engage younger artists and not to claim every painting to be sold in the market should be the things to do. It is a much more long-term investment as an artist.’’

Clémentine Deliss

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