Chapter 2.

Kapwani Kiwanga



Kapwani Kiwanga




Performance h. 19


Influenced by earlier studies in anthropology, the work of Kapwani Kiwanga often merges together fiction and historical facts. Using video, sound and performance, Kiwanga produces research-based investigations that revisit history, crafting new stories from subjective perspectives, storytelling, science fiction and popular culture.

She is also interested in different approaches to embodiment in art, and for The Institute of Things to Come she presents Afrogalattica: a trilogy project (2011–on-going), where the fictional character of an anthropologist from the future has come back to our time to tell us about the Afronaut Odyssey.

“On December 8, 2058 the United States of Africa came into being. The date was chosen to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Pan-African Conference, which took place in Accra, Ghana, in 1958. It was during this historic meeting that the then President, Kwame Nkrumah endorsed the model of a United States of Africa, which called for the federation of African States. As early as 2058, efforts were aimed at uniting various African initiatives in the field of space exploration under the umbrella of the Space Agency of the United States of Africa (extracts from the performance)”.

Kiwanga reflects on some major themes taken from her research on Afrofuturism and its role in the development of the yet-to-be-created United States of Africa Space Agency. Afrofuturism, as a philosophy, deliberately chooses the future as a site for historical action. In fact, in 1974, jazz musician Sun Ra proposed “Space Is The Place”, a spatial and temporal utopia advocating space adventure and intergalactic escape as an alternative for Africans and African Americans.

By meticulously blending vast fields of knowledge relating to Afrofuturism, historical liberation movements, and African astronomy, the artist not only undermines the authority of Western academia hegemonic discourses, but also enables us to reflect and visualize alternative history lines.


Coming Soon


KAPWANI KIWANGA intentionally confuses truth and fiction in her work in order to unsettle hegemonic narratives and create spaces in which marginal and fantastical discourse can flourish. Kiwanga’s fondness for oral traditions drives a continual exploration of the formal possibilities of orality in her performance, sound, and video work. Kiwanga studied Anthropology and Comparative Religions at McGill University, Canada. She has been artist-in-residence at L’Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (France); Le Fresnoy: National Contemporary Art Studio (France); MU Foundation, Eindhoven (Netherlands); Le Manège, Dakar, Senegal.
Her film and video works have been nominated for two BAFTAs and have received awards at international film festivals. She has exhibited internationally including at Centre Pompidou, Paris, (2006, 2013), Foundation Ricard (2013, 2014, 2015); Glasgow Centre of Contemporary Art, (2008); Paris Photo (2011), Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, Almería. She has recently presented her work in solo exhibitions at The Armory Show (New York), South London Gallery (London), Jeu de Paume (Paris), FIAC (Paris), Ferme de Buison (Noisel, FR), 1:54 (London), Le Granit (Belfort, FR), Galerie Tanja Wagner (Berlin). Recent group exhibitions include: EVA biennial (Limerick) Berlin, Ethnographic Museum (Berlin), Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), Galerie Marian Goodman (Paris), Fondation Ricard (Paris), Salt, (Istanbul), Tiwani Contemporary (London), Temporary Gallery(Cologne), Museo deArte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Léon (Léon). Upcoming solo exhibitions in 2017 include the Power Plant (Toronto) and Logan Centre for the Arts (Chicago).

Kapwani Kiwanga, Afrogalactica: A Brief history of the Future, Gorki Theatre, Berlin 2014. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin. Photo: Emma Haugh
Kapwani Kiwanga, The Secretary’s Suite, 2016, Mixed-media installation, 23:00 min. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
Kapwani Kiwanga, White Gold: Morogoro, 2016, Installation view at Ferme du Buisson. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
Kapwani Kiwanga, Performing Afrogalactica: A Brief history of the Future at Exodus Festival Ljubljana, Slovenia 2015. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
Kapwani Kiwanga, Rumours that Maji was a lie…, 2014, mixed-media installation, Installation view at Jeu de Paume, Paris. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
Kapwani Kiwanga, Afrogalactica: A Brief history of the Future, Gorki Theatre, Berlin 2014. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin. Photo: Emma Haugh
anniversaire #7 - Festival Reims Scènes d'Europe
Kapwani Kiwanga, Afrogalactica: A Brief history of the Future. Performance at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin. Photo: Martin Argyroglo