Catch the Invisible

18 May - 20 July 2024

Ana Beatriz Almeida, Jelili Atiku, Elolo Bosoka, Serigne Mbaye Camara,
Ibiye Camp, Tessi Kodjovi, Marica Kure, Alberto Pitta, A. Sika and Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu

Marcia Kure, Systems and Networks, 2023, 275 x 214 cm, Charcoal and acrylic on canvas, image courtesy of the artist

Galerie Atiss Dakar announces the two-part group exhibition on the occasion of #theOFFisON. Set across two sites – Galerie Atiss in Dakar-Medina and Atelier Aïssa Dione Tissus in Sodida, Dakar, the exhibition is grounded in a theme connecting the materiality, spirituality, and symbolism of Brazil and West Africa. The title indicates the many forms of communication through gestures and meanings outside canonized or indoctrinated language and the systems of power and control from which they emerged; instead, it favors knowledge passed down across generations that can be ancestral or looking within one’s context, landscape and surroundings for what is beyond the visible. New and existing artworks by an intergeneration of artists compare the physiologies, origins, and histories passed down from generation to generation while working with an array of themes dealing with collective memory, ancestry, spirituality, reuse, and reinterpretation. Materials become central for connecting varied practices and approaches that ultimately reveal parts of the histories of our humanity that remain invisible. Forgotten or disappearing ancestral and indigenous knowledge is laid bare in textiles, film, drawings, and an installation, combined with the ability to envision new futures and new imaginaries for art making.

Alberto Pitta lives and works in Salvador, Brazil, where he grew up observing the activity of his mother, the Iyalorixá Mãe Santinha de Oyá. This led to an ongoing interest in working with fabrics and their symbolism. On the gallery’s ground floor, Pitta presents a new large-scale site-specific installation connecting Senegalese and Brazilian maritime histories in the form of a boat sculpture that combines his pioneering work in fabric prints, clothing,
sculpture, and ornaments of the Orishas deities from the Western African religion, Candomblé. For more than 45 years, Pitta has continued his research and creation of prints, costumes, props, and allegories that characterise the visuality of the Afro blocks that dominate the carnival of Salvador. Jelili Atiku, on the other hand, has expressed his political concerns for human rights and justice through various mediums such as drawing, installation sculpture, photography, video, and live art performances. He aims to broaden the viewers’ horizons and help them comprehend the world around them so they can enhance their understanding and experiences and bring about change in their lives and surroundings. Atiku’s presentation will focus on his rarely exhibited yet extensive drawing practice rooted in Yoruba symbolism.
A.Sika, like Atiku, also at times works with Yorùbá symbolism and mythologies. She is a priestess of disorder, a free-spirited artist, liberated not only in her artistic approach but also in the way she perceives her relationship with her creations, drawn from her creative muses. With bewildering lightness, she transcends established codes regarding standardised techniques. She has empowered herself to push beyond boundaries, delving into the depths of her being, thus expanding her scope of action.

Ana Beatriz Almeida focuses on African traditions and their connections to the African diaspora throughout history. She has developed a series of rites to honour those who did not survive the transatlantic trade of enslaved people but remain alive in the spirit. Focusing on memory, the meaning of life and death, and the infinity between both. Her installation Homey, a 10-year ritualist performance documented in film, photography, and ephemera, has been conceived especially for the first-floor gallery.

Tessi Kodjovi experiments mainly with wood and iron and is influenced by collectively shared questions such as: Who are we? How do we coexist within the geographical and temporal frames? How do we restore faith within our systems? How do we create new languages? These questions are not new; they find physical expressions in the artists own way of providing answers.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu’s visual art practice centres on explorations of line, form, and boundary, which she expresses through various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and film. She often returns to recreating landscapes on paper and, more recently, using fabrics to combine abstract elements and textures. In her series, Birthscapes (2021-ongoing) Ukoha-Kalu explores the often stereotypical keywords associated with femininity/feminine such as nurturing, gentle, affectionate, warm, empathetic, tender, smooth and curvy. 

These words are conceptually rendered as forms using plexiglass of different sizes, colours and shapes, hung in a layered composition suspended in space to give a new perspective on what femininity means.

Alongside these sculptures, the artist will present her most recent linocut prints exploring Igbo mythologies developed during Harmattan Workshop sessions at the Onobrak Arts Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria. On the third floor gallery, Serigne Mbaye Camara captures the welcome chants by young hawkers to buyers in a new soundscape work that will also be shown alongside abstract paintings and sculpture. Instead of calls to buy goods, the voices call out names of respectes Senegalese artists who have contributed immensely to the art scene in the country and beyond.

Marcia Kure, sharing a space with Camara, examines the act of drawing from technical, conceptual, and material perspectives across bodies of work. Informed by individual and collective experiences of postcolonial and diasporic identities. The source and origin of a material is central to Kure’s practice which often incorporates a study of line, as well as natural, plant-based pigments and collage techniques.
Through abstraction, Kure paintings in the exhibition ask how visible and invisible structures can be dissolved into line while reflecting upon past, present, and emerging systems of power.
In the former furniture factory of Aissa Dione, Elolo Bosoka and Ibiye Camp’s installations probe material histories, reuse and reinterpretation. In his installations, short films, drawings, ‘see-through’ soft sculptures and painterly objects, Bosoka appropriates items amassed from corners of the mundane urban environment to engage with notions of art as place, economic exchange, materiality, and history. His new large scale sculpture interacts with the
former industrial workshop architecture creating a living artwork engaging viewer, space and material. Alongside this sculpture is a selection of painterly objects, an ongoing photographic series by the artist documenting unexpected beauty of geometry and form in everyday encounters of space and place.

Ibiye Camp’s recent installation, Remaining Threads (2021-ongoing), focuses on the impact of automation on our bodies. Camp uses Injiri fabric in this installation, which originates from Madras fabric, which was widely traded during the transatlantic slave trade. In Buguma, Nigeria, where part of Ibiye’s family is from, Kalabari craftswomen used to make Injiri fabric by cutting and removing threads to create new patterns. This fabric was then worn as wrappers in Kalabari ceremonies. However, the process of making Injiri fabric has changed in recent years. The traditional female creative position has been replaced by machines that make the fabric in factories in China. This shift has significantly impacted the social roles and spaces in Buguma.

In the Remaining Threads, the sound of Kalabari drums conveys stories about goddesses, gods, and spiritual beings. At the same time, it also captures the traces and ghostly presences that resulted from the transformation in the manufacturing process. Catch the Invisible brings together artists from Brazil, the US, Europe, and West Africa concerned with material and immaterial explorations that offer new approaches to visual storytelling.

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