Archive for augusti, 2014

Contemporary Art Nairobi

Roads are wet as we drive out of Nairobi towards Red Hill Art Gallery in Limuru between Banana Hill and Ngecha Village. Rain is hanging in the air and we see the dark skies of thunder threatening in the distance over the green hills and farmlands.

Visual artist Peterson Kamwathi is driving the car, and dancer, choreographer James Mweu, sit in the back and try to fill me in to the development of the Nairobi art scene.

Some years ago the most prominent art gallery, Ramoma, closed down and at the time it seemed like the exhibition possibilities for contemporary artists were becoming very few. But things are changing. The number of visual artists are growing, and there is a confidence in the art scene which is new. There is also quite a few interesting art spaces around Nairobi.

Red Hill Art Gallery is a fairly new space for exhibiting art and started around two years ago by Hellmuth and Erica Rossler-Musch, two former ”healthworkers” as they described themselves, with a great interest in art. During their twenty-five years in different countries in Africa they have collected art work from the most important artists in that region. A dream has been to start a gallery to show their collection, but also to support up-coming artists, and give a possibility to exhibit.

We get a tour among art works from artists such as Jak Katarikawe, Joel Oswago, Kivuthi Mbuno, Rosemary Karuga, Annabelle Wanjiku, and many more.

After the tour we have a cup of tea in the lush green garden, the rain has started to poor around us making a smattering sound as it hits the parasoll, and the conversation is about contemporary art in Nairobi, the scene, the possibilities, the challenges.

In the car back to town heading towards the next gallery, One Off Gallerythe discussion continues.

Art work in the photo by Richard Kimathi. More galleries are Circle Art Agency, Kuona Trust, Banana Hill Gallery, and of course The GoDown Arts Centre.

23 augusti, 2014

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Opera on the edge

The lake Ljusnaren is quiet, laying still, perhaps waiting for the afternoon’s big drama being played right here, in the woods outside the city of Kopparberg: Guiseppe Verdi’s crime passionnel Otello.

People arrive in cars and buses. Some have taken the direct train from Stockholm and step right out on the ground and walk slowly in the warm afternoon towards the entrance of the large wooden saw mill.

”I imagine that it would be like being in the body of a violin” says director William Relton in an interview about the acoustic. It’s a warm and very clear acoustic in the mill, he describes it, and perfect for opera.

It’s also what seems to have inspired opera-singer Sten Niclasson when he ran into the closed-down saw mill. The acoustic was impressive; the place, right on the edge of the lake Ljusnaren in Bergslagen, inspiring; and the mill in all its granduor and size as if made for opera. Not least the train rail connecting the mill directly to Stockholm, was all factors that landed the idea of exchanging wood for opera.

Opera på skäret, a summer opera festival, started in 2004 after long hours of work and discussions with local municipality, the region, and different funders. In 2014 the neighbouring municipality Örebro decided to raise the yearly amount invested in the festival.

As so many municipalities around Sweden, also Ljusnarsbergs municipality is trying to deal with a declining population, lack of jobs, young people moving to the large cities, and a challenging economic situation. Art and culture, Creative Industries, becomes a light in the dark with hope for attractiveness of people’s interest for living, establishing, and visiting.

The 795 seats are not filled this afternoon, but nearly enough. Many people from near and long away have found their way to the opera on the edge to follow Otello‘s way to his ruin driven by only one thing: jelousy.

Nätverkstan did together with Sture Carlsson an analysis of another opera in Sweden in 2014: Wermland Opera. The book can be found here.

4 augusti, 2014

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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