SculptureCenter: École du soir (The Evening Academy)
Sep 16–Dec 16, 2019
44–19 Purves Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
Christian Nyampeta’s project consists of a scriptorium (a place for writing), an exhibition, and public programs concerned with “thinking Africa,” then and now. The program is resourced around the idea of an “evening school,” following the Senegalese writer and film director Sembène Ousmane, who saw cinema as “cours du soir” or “evening classes.” This concept was informed by the traditions of orality, sensuality, and conviviality within the realm of art learning and making in his region. Sembène saw cinema as a popular information system in the service of education, aesthetic experience, and public dissemination. His methodology concerned the use of cinema’s collective production, and investing in its viewing methods that draw from different uses of time, visual and textual histories, social struggles and hopes, in mutuality between his own locality and the world at large.
Nyampeta’s project at SculptureCenter will consist of a number of “hosting structures”—a polyformal system of inhabitable sculptural and functional prototypes. These structures create a study room hosting a translation and interpretation working group that will focus on making texts by Rwandan philosopher Isaïe Nzeyimana available in English for the first time. The structures further hold a repository of translations, a printer, publications, and a dossier of new, current, and past sessions held with groups in Amsterdam, Dakar, Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali, Leipzig, Lubumbashi, London, Maseru, and Mechelen. Guests, visitors, and other members of the audience are welcome to make use of these resources, attend the translation sessions, or simply use the space during their visit to the museum.
The project aims to make this translated knowledge available to artists, curators, and researchers who are interested in further study of other epistemologies that come out of historical ruptures, discontinuities, disjointed continuities, and modes of thinking that do not follow the post/ante doctrine.
As 2019 marks 25 years since the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, this project is a contribution to a movement across its global meaning today. In some ways, the Rwandan genocide can be read as a metonym for a wider self-destruction in the world at large. Despite its own limits and contradictions, the sensibility developed in Isaïe Nzeyimana’s work motions toward a heartwarming intellectual promiscuity: it performs as a thinking hand, fighting against the degradation of life and of living together, but also against the threat to life caused by the disappearance of the habitable environments on our planet. This philosophy revives what would otherwise be lost, and it carries a promise, which compels us to rethink life.
Christian Nyampeta’s ongoing activities in art, design, and theory include the convening of a scriptorium, a roaming program of exhibitions, screenings, and lyrical performances concerned with longing and belonging through monuments and translation. Forthcoming exhibitions include the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Nyampeta runs Radius, an online and occasionally inhabitable radio station. He is completing a PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London and he was awarded The Art Prize Future of Europe 2019.
The exhibition is curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, Curator, with Kyle Dancewicz, Director of Exhibitions and Programs.