RAW Académie is an experimental residential program for the research and study of artistic and curatorial practice and thought. The program usually takes place over seven weeks in Dakar. It is dedicated to a dynamic reflection on artistic research, curatorial practice and critical writing. Two separate sessions are held each year in the spring and fall.
Session 10 takes place in Cameroun, at Doual’art for a duration of 5 weeks from October 02nd to November 03rd, 2023.
In a world where any notion of a clear divide between public and private has always been simply that - a notion - RAW Académie Session 10 Landmarks goes beyond this dichotomy to explore how art in urban space allows conciliation between private desires, public needs, and collective imaginaries. The contemporary African metropolises out of which this program is born are the often fruitful, at times conflictual meeting points for these interests. Much studied, much maligned, much fetishized, the African city is no mere “laboratory”. It is over 600 million lives across a continent stretching some 8000 kilometers from north to south, where the sun rises and sets over six time zones each day. Embedded in Douala, Cameroon, our realm of inquiry during Landmarks will be artworks, projects and spaces which use the urban space as raw material for coming into communion with life, with the heartbeats and dreams that are the ultimate rhythm and strength of the city.
Under the artistic direction of doual’art, Landmarks is rooted in the association’s three decades of experience curating and caring for artworks that are - to use the words of its founder, Princesse Marilyn Douala Manga Bell - “in resonance with” urban space.
doual’art was born at a turning point in the history of Cameroon, when a popular uprising and a general strike known as “villes mortes” (dead cities) precipitated the authorization of multipartyism, private media, as well as freedom of association in the country. Very quickly, fundamental questions emerged. How to accompany this creative and popular energy? How to use the streets for something other than violent protest? How to open up a space for dialogue between communities and public authorities? And where does public power actually reside? Questions that are no less relevant today, not only in Douala or Dakar but in cities across the globe.
Over the course of its life and in particular via the Salon Urbain de Douala (SUD) festival, Doual’art has been inhabited by these questions and adjacent themes, which will undergird the curriculum of Landmarks. The life of SUD has seen, amongst many many others, Hervé Youmbi navigate the irony of Douala’s lack of access to water, despite it being originally founded as a fishing village, while Georgina Goerger have engaged with the mythologies surrounding the region’s aquatic landscapes. Hervé Yamguen, in contrast, turned to the water that has stopped flowing and become stagnant.The disappearance of flora and fauna, and its accompanying loss of knowledge, was at the heart of works by Tracey Rose and Lucas Grandin. Ties ten Bosch worked on issues of land use, and Aser Kash on what it means to live in one of the wettest cities on earth. During Landmarks, fellows and invited faculty will come together with members of Doual’art’s team and the communities that have lived with SUD’s projects to explore the potentials and pitfalls of art in the urban space.
The program will not only look back to what has been created, but to how this is shaping Douala’s present and future. Doual’art has been instrumental in imbibing the city with a new geographic logic, elaborated according to the positions of these pieces, and today imprinted in the psyche of its inhabitants. But the same process takes place in the opposite direction, as the lives of the people of Douala imprint themselves on the artworks. These pieces become sites of material and affective mutation, in symbiosis with the inevitable changes which are constantly underway in the lives of the city’s people. Not simply part of the landscape, they are landmarks. Today, as Cameroon itself faces drastic political and cultural challenges, we are led to wonder who is responsible for the memory and future of these artworks, their city, their country, and their continent. We are concerned with the legal, ethical and conceptual issues raised by this question. Ultimately, we will ask what the implications are for our role in shaping the spaces we share with other life, both human and non-human.
Fellows will explore these themes through walks, discussions, lectures, and workshops together with the team of doual'art, RAW Material Company, and visiting faculty members; cultural producer Teesa Bahana, artist Barthélémy Toguo, architects Jean Charles Tall and Akil Scafe-Smith, curators Hicham Bouzid and Jay Pather.
doual'art is a contemporary art centre co-founded by Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell with art historian Didier Schaub, in 1991 in Douala (Cameroon). The focus of doual’art is on new urban identities and the construction of citizenship through art, artistic intervention in urban space, education, and memory.
As a research laboratory on the relationship between Art and the Urban, doual'art wants to expand the limits of contemporary art. Its ambition is to give a soul to a city in the southern hemisphere in the midst of change, to reveal emerging identities, to free up a public debate on specific themes, to change the way people look at the aesthetics of their environment and, ultimately, to develop a public that is attentive to the contemporary creation.
To do this, doual'art promotes the most experimental creations of Cameroonian and international artists, both in the doual'art exhibition space, the "white cube", and beyond the walls, in the public space where these creators of forms (visual artists, performers, designers, architects, etc.) are invited to dialogue with urban practices and for audiences who are not familiar with contemporary art.
The main tool is SUD - Salon Urbain Douala, a triennial international festival of public art created in 2007, each edition of which has a specific theme and which has proposed more than 80 works of art and artistic events in the city of Douala. The next edition of SUD, will take place during the first half of 2024 and will be part of a reflection on the place and role of art as a revelator of history(s) but also as a creator of meaning in the city.
Princess Marylin Douala Manga Bell
Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell was born in Cameroon in 1957 into the Bell royal family. She completed a postgraduate degree in Development Economics at the University of Nanterre (France). She worked for nearly 10 years in rural development NGOs and was a consultant for multilateral international organizations. In 1991, she co-founded the contemporary art center doual'art with art historian Didier Schaub. The focus of doual’art is on new urban identities and the construction of citizenship through art, artistic intervention in urban space, education, and memory. The main tool is SUD - Salon Urbain Douala, a triennial international festival of public art created in 2007, each edition of which has a specific theme and which has proposed more than 80 works of art and artistic events in the city of Douala. The subject of SUD2021 will be heritage and the need to challenge the Western museum model. Since 2014 she has been working on memorial projects concerning German colonial history in Cameroon.
04/10 - Princesse Marilyn Douala Manga Bell & Koyo Kouoh
Introduction to RAW Académie at Doual’art: Landmarks
11/10 - Barthélémy Toguo — Bandjoun Art Station
Next stop, Bandjoun Art Station
13/10 - Akil Scafe-Smith — Resolve Collective
Institutional Landscapes, Infrastructural Practices: Redistributive Modes of Building Together
18/10 - Teesa Bahana — 32° East
What is ours?
20/10 - Hicham Bouzid — Think Tanger
Redefining Landmarks in african cities: narratives and practices in postcolonial african metropolis;
25/10 - Jean Charles Tall — CUAD
Douala's Art and Heritage, The UPC Effect
27/10 - Jay Pather — Institute for Creative Arts invite Zora Snake
Mercurial, fleeting land-marking: Transient public art forms for elusive and indeterminate futures.
03/11 - Princesse Marilyn Douala Manga Bell, Yvon Langué & the RAW Académie fellows
What Landmarks mean to us… Conclusion to RAW Académie at doual’art