Taking place on - Thursday 10 September 2015 from 9:00am
Taking place at - Southbank Centre ( Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX)
Organised by: Southbank Centre
AFRICA UTOPIA IS BACK: LINE-UP ANNOUNCED FOR 2015
10–13 September 2015
Africa Utopia is back for a third time and explores what can be learnt and celebrated from modern Africa and the African diaspora. The festival investigates the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-changing continents and looks at how Africa can lead the way in thinking about society, community, business and technology, fashion, gender, power, politics, sustainability and activism.
This year’s festival features some of the greatest artists from the African diaspora across music, dance, literature, fashion and the visual arts. Highlights include:
● Living legend of afrobeat Tony Allen with star guests including Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté;
● Senegal’s mighty Orchestra Baobab gives their first London show in three years;
● A one-off gig from one of West Africa’s greatest singers Kassé Mady Diabaté;
● The launch concert of Chineke! – Europe’s first Black and Minority Ethnic classical symphony orchestra, including Elegy in memory of Stephen Lawrence by black British composer Philip Herbert;
● UK premiere of Star Boy Productions, an original performance about the migrant’s story of survival by acclaimed Belgium-based director Ahil Ratnamohan;
● The first UK solo exhibition of work by South African visual artist Dineo Seshee Bopape;
● Southbank Centre debuts from a younger generation of emerging African musicians including
Cameroonian Blick Bassy, currently making waves with his new album Akö, and Kenyan songstress Maia von Lekow;
● A showcase of the influence of Africa on a new generation of UK artists and DJs presented by Wormfood, including psychedelic Gnawa fusion from Electric Jalaba and a club night featuring African Head Charge and Afriquoi – who launch their new album;
● A day celebrating African-inspired fashion, including the return of the People’s Catwalk;
● A full programme of talks and debates across the weekend;
● Take part in Afrikan yoga, free events and workshops (including dance and singing) and delve into the many faces of modern Africa with free art, a buzzing marketplace and street-food on site.
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said, “Africa’s influence on the UK – and worldwide – is immense. Throughout Africa Utopia we explore what Africa can teach the West, by displaying fresh perspectives on contemporary Africa and shining a light on its rich tapestry of culture, politics, society, gender, business, and activism. I am delighted that this year’s Africa Utopia provides a platform for both legendary African artists and emerging, provocative voices from the continent and the diaspora.”
The festival culminates in the historic launch of Chi-chi Nwanoku’s visionary orchestra Chineke!. The project chimes with Southbank Centre’s vision that background, race and creed should be no barrier to arts for all.”
Musical highlights during Africa Utopia include some of the continent’s most influential musicians, alongside emerging artists – showing the breadth of Africa’s influence on the UK scene. Southbank Centre welcomes back legendary drummer Tony Allen to celebrate his extraordinary career with star guests including Grammy Award-winning master kora player Toumani Diabaté and his son Sidiki Diabaté (the debut performance of these three musicians), and French rap star Oxmo. Long acknowledged as Africa’s finest kit drummer, Allen was a key collaborator with Fela Kuti in the 1960s and 1970s and one of the creators of afrobeat. He has since worked with artists including Damon Albarn (the Good the Bad and the Queen, Rocket Juice and the Moon), Air, and Grace Jones (Sun 13 Sep).
One of West Africa’s greatest singers – and Malian musical royalty – Kassé Mady Diabaté is joined by young kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko, Lansiné Kouyaté on balafon and Makan Tounkara on ngoni for a one-off gig. The griot legend performs music from his latest album Kiriké, harking back to a traditional acoustic sound and indicative of the intimate musical current of contemporary Bamako (Sat 12 Sep).
Senegal’s mighty Orchestra Baobab gives their first London show in three years, 45 years after they formed in 1970. One of the last living African orchestras from this era and distinguished by their multi-ethnic membership, their music is broad and multi-lingual, with a strong Cuban flavour. The group has toured worldwide and received two BBC Radio 3 awards and a Grammy nomination for their recordings. Support comes from a fresh new generation of African musician: singer-songwriter Blick Bassy who performs in Bassa, one of 260 languages spoken in Cameroon, and is making waves with his new album Akö, influenced by bluesman Skip James and featuring a unique combination of banjo, guitar, cello and trombone (Fri 11 Sep).
Making her European debut is Kenyan songstress and African Academy Award-winner Maia von Lekow. Weaving together afro-jazz, folk, soul and blues, Maia represents a new colour from Kenya’s contemporary musical landscape and has graced major festival stages across Africa with her high-energy six-piece band, and as an intimate solo-acoustic performer (Fri 11 Sep).
Friday evening provides a showcase of the influence of Africa on a new generation of UK artists and DJs as the Queen Elizabeth Hall is transformed into a club night of futuristic, homegrown music, presented by Wormfood. Psychedelic Gnawa fusion from Electric Jalaba opens the night, followed by globally- acclaimed, pioneering dub-reggae ensemble African Head Charge led by original co-founder, master percussionist and royal rastaman, Bonjo Iyabhinghi Noah. Underground sensation Afriquoi headline with the launch of their new album, showcasing their uplifting fusion of African and UK styles, featuring virtuoso Gambian kora player Jallykebba Suso and Congolese guitarist Fiston Lusambo along with percussion, vocals and live electronics. A late night DJ bill rounds off the night, drawing deep on afrofunk, afro-Brazilian and afrobeat sounds (Fri 11 Sep).
Talks & debates
Underpinning the Africa Utopia weekend is the programme of talks, panel debates and workshops curated by journalist and author Hannah Pool. The programme looks at how Africa is leading the way in thinking about culture, community, business, technology, fashion, gender, power, politics, sustainability and activism.
Friday’s programme explores how contemporary Africa is approaching politics, technology, and trade with innovation and entrepreneurs. Topics range from migration to aviation, mobile apps and the politics of data in Africa to exploring sustainability and the future of African digital journalism. Saturday‘s talks will explore the myths and realities surrounding gender and sexuality on the continent as well as looking at how artists are motivating social change in Africa. Leading designers, writers, artists and performers will examine how the arts are challenging stereotypes and existing narratives both on the continent and in the diaspora. Sunday begins with the Africa Utopia newspaper review for a snapshot of the biggest Africa-related headlines and stories. The discussions will go on to explore changing women’s roles across the content, cutting-edge digital art and youth and empowerment. Prominent activists, makers and artists showcase their work and highlight how art and ideas from Africa are changing the world.
Dance and performance
A sharply original and thought-provoking production headlines Africa Utopia’s dance and performance programme this year: the UK premiere of Star Boy Productions, a sideways look at the migrant’s story of survival by acclaimed Belgium-based director Ahil Ratnamohan. Star Boy Productions invites audiences to learn the clandestine tricks required by African migrants to remain legal in the EU and examines the psyche of those attempting to create a better future for themselves. Presented by three African migrants (West African footballers based in Antwerp making contemporary performance about Europe, visas, and azonto), this searingly truthful play invites an audience into their world of survival, explaining the lengths one can and must go to in order to remain in Europe – the illegal things people do in order to become ‘legal’ (Fri 11 & Sat 12 Sep, 7.45pm).
Africa Utopia hosts the historic launch of Chineke!, Europe’s first professional classical symphony orchestra made up of Black and Minority Ethnic musicians. Chineke! means ‘Spirit of Creation’ in Igbo and is the brainchild of the UK’s leading double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE (co-founder of Southbank Centre’s Resident Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and for 30 years one of the few black orchestral musicians in the UK) who aims to celebrate the creative energy of musicians of colour and to inspire new generations. Chineke! brings together the most talented professional musicians of African heritage from the UK and Europe under the baton of Wayne Marshall, who conducts a programme including Elegy–in memory of Stephen Lawrence by black British composer Philip Herbert – the first professional London performance since its premiere in 2000 – as well as Beethoven’s beloved Symphony No. 7 (Sun 13 Sep, 5pm). Africa Utopia also premieres Chi-chi Nwanoku’s parallel special project, the Junior Chineke! Orchestra, introducing some of the UK’s most outstanding young musicians, age 11-17 (Sun 13 Sep, 3pm).
Visual Arts, Crafts and Fashion
Southbank Centre plays host to a myriad of visual artists and designers across the site, including video, installations, wall works, photography, performance art, and design collaborations encompassing a range of practices from craft to digital. Hayward Gallery Project Space presents the first UK solo exhibition of work by South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape (26 August – 27 September 2015), including a selection of her video works alongside a newly expanded sculpture conceived specially for the Hayward Gallery. Combining dense sculptural installation with kaleidoscopic video montages, Bopape’s work engages viewers with powerful socio-political notions of memory, narration and representation. In these assemblages, everyday materials – including timber, bricks, mirrors, and plants – form complex and precarious configurations across the walls and floor of the gallery. Born in 1981 in Polokwane, Dineo Seshee Bopape studied at the Durban University of Technology, South Africa and Columbia University, New York, and now lives and works in Johannesburg. Her work has been shown in a number of prominent international exhibitions, including the New Museum, New York; ICA, Philadelphia; Mart House Gallery, Amsterdam, and the 12th Biennale de Lyon.
Celebrating all things African, the buzzing Africa Utopia Market Place hosts stalls featuring art, homeware, fashion and accessories, in the style of an African trading market. Further details to be announced (Fri 11– Sun 13 Sep, 12pm–7pm).
Following the success of previous years, Africa Utopia dedicates an afternoon to contemporary African fashion and style. The Clore Ballroom hosts the Market Stories, a series of moments where traders are invited to explain their crafts, their ideas, themes and how they source materials. The afternoon culminates in a special catwalk show curated by Samson Soboye featuring five exciting African fashion designers (Sat 12 Sep).
Africa Utopia presents a multitude of opportunities to get involved. Southbank Centre’s Voicelab is back with popular singing workshops for all abilities – no experience necessary. Singer Namvula Rennie leads an open and inclusive creative vocal workshop using South African and Zambian traditional song (Sat 12 Sep, 2–5pm) and the ever-popular men’s vocal initiative Beyond the Bassline is given the African treatment by singer, composer and band-leader Juwon Ogungbe (Thu 10 Sep, 7–8.30pm). An African Social Dance gives beginners and experienced dancers alike the opportunity to learn traditional African dance (Thu 10 Sep, 1–4pm) and the Clore Ballroom hosts a session of Afrikan yoga, led by experienced teachers Lenea Hebrew and Pablo Imani (Sat 12 Sep, 10am).
As part of the Africa Utopia fashion focus, members of the public are encouraged to participate in the People’s Catwalk, showcasing African influences on London fashion (Sat 12 Sep). Show us how you wear your heritage, what it means to you, and you might find yourself strutting as part of the show. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Listings at www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/africa-utopia
Southbank Centre Ticket Office – 0844 847 9910
MORE NAMES TO BE ANNOUNCED THIS SUMMER
NOTES TO EDITORS
For Africa Utopia press information please contact:
Naomi Burgoyne, Press Manager: Naomi.Burgoyne@southbankcentre.co.uk / 020 7921 0824
Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Africa Utopia Partners
The Africa Channel is Africa Utopia’s TV media partner. The Africa Channel broadcasts award-winning television inspired by Africa, available on Sky 209 and Virginmedia 289. Arik Air is West Africa’s largest airline. Positioned at the commercial hub airport of one of the world’s leading emerging economies, Arik Air currently serves an ever expanding route network of key cities in Nigeria, Africa, Europe, the US and the UEA. Arik Air places great emphasis on reliability and innovation and aims to revolutionise flying from and within Africa.
Dineo Seshee Bopape’s exhibition in the Hayward Gallery Project Space is supported by The African Arts Trust.
Venue Location - Southbank Centre ( Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX)
Posted By: Annette Oppong