Session 5

What is RAW Académie?

RAW Académie is an experimental residential programme for the research and study of artistic and curatorial practice and thought. The programme takes place over 7 weeks in Dakar. It is dedicated to a dynamic reflection on artistic research, curatorial practice and critical writing. The Académie is held during two distinct sessions per year; Spring and Fall. Each session is directed by a lead faculty who has displayed an off-the-beaten-track practice in regard to art, curating and art criticism. Session 5 will be led by Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga. It will take place from 29 October to 14 December, 2018.



Session 5: Germination

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Planting a seed in the right soil is not enough to make it sprout. The material and structural conditions around the seed, that may have left it in a state of dormancy, must be taken into consideration in order to provide fertile ground for thinking about ways in which we work, live and create together. Each element such as the soil, rain, heat and humidity are equally necessary and vital for the process of germination to take place. 

Otobong Nkanga’s multi-stage project Carved To Flow is a long-term research and practice oriented platform that uses material investigation and experimentation to produce new systems of support across economy, sociality and art. The 3rd phase - Germination comes to Dakar, Senegal to build a new pillar of creative sustenance for a project that is envisaged as a structure that can have real impact on lived reality, using art as a device to reflect on what it means to sculpt or carve possibilities within societies and create collective responses within spaces of crisis. 

It is becoming ever more urgent to understand how entangled our existence is to the very elements we exploit, use or waste. How can we create structures for care and repair?  How can we carve or sculpt against the grain to create a flow? How can we work in coherence with the land and mineral body that holds us all? We can no longer ignore the particles we breath into our lungs, speckled sometimes with particles of arsenic but at other times with the pollen of a jasmine flower. 

Germination functions as a laboratory space between the imagined and lived experiences which allows for the possibility to explore ideas around ecology, architecture and sustainability. Fellows and invited faculty worked with practitioners in Senegal to connect and enrich structures that run beyond the lines of usual curatorial norms but that teach us how to be in space and resonate beyond, to resist stalemate and hibernation by seeking symbiosis with the localities we live in.

Inaugural lecture of RAW Académie Session 5

Lead Faculty

About Otobong Nkanga

Otobong Nkanga (NG/BE) was born in 1974 in Kano, Nigeria. In 1992 she began her art studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and later continued from 1995-2001 in Paris at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. She was an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam from 2002-2004. In 2008 she obtained her Masters in the Performing Arts at Dasarts, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 2013-2014, she was a guest of the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm – Artists-in-Berlin Program. A part of Carved to Flow – Germination (Phase 3) has emerged from research carried out within the BAK Fellowship Program. Otobong Nkanga is a 2017/2018 Fellow at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht.

Nkanga has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern, London (2017); Kunshal Aarhus, Aarhus (2017); Nottingham Contemporary (2016); Berkeley Art Museum, BAMPFA, California (2016); M HKA in Antwerp (2015); Portikus in Frankfurt (2015). In 2016, she also had major international projects in Shanghai and Beirut (Landversation). She has exhibited in several international exhibitions, including Documenta14 in Athens and Kassel (2017); 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016); 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015); 31st São Paulo Biennial (2014); the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014) and the Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013). She was the winner of the Yanghyun Prize in 2015 and the Belgian Art Prize in 2017.

Public Lectures

Wednesday 7th November 5.30pm

Public lecture with Peter Webb

We are unique individuals constantly stimulated through our perceptions and feelings as we move through life in the world about us.

We are integral parts of environments with particular expressions, in constant transformation and change over time.

Peter Webb invites us to study how the landscape can touch us and how we can awaken and cultivate our sensitivity to nature.


Friday 9th November 5.30pm

Public lecture with Moussa Sène and Brian Harris – Thread

Thread, which operates as both an artist residency and socio-cultural center is aproject inspired by legendary Bauhaus and Black Mountain College artists Josef and Anni Albers, who believed that art is everywhere—not just in Western, urban capitals. Thread allows local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, the southeastern region of Senegal. It is a socio-cultural center that also functions as an agricultural hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages.


Wednesday 14th November 5.30pm

Evolutionary Populations: the seeds of a world waiting to germinate

Public lecture with Luigi Coppola

Coppola will share, expand on and contaminate the practice he initiated in Castiglione d’Otranto, in the south of Italy, called Scuola di Agriculture (School of Cultures and Agricultures), a pedagogical platform that combines agro-ecological learning with artistic strategies of theater, philosophy, public art and that builds upon the participatory and commoning dynamics of the temporary community.

One of the main themes and practices that will be explored in the seminar is that of “Evolutionary Populations”. The term refers to the practice of participatory genetic improvement, spreading more and more on a global scale and offering an interesting outlook on a number of present day issues.


Friday 16th November 5.30pm

Public lecture with Mouhamadou Diol – Kàddu Yaraax

Kàddu Yaraax is an organisation created in November 1994 to support community mobilisation against the pollution of Hann Bay, the association’s neighbourhood. The main activity of Kàddu Yaraax remains theater-forum with frequent and regular performances throughout Senegal. The trainers regularly conduct theatre-forum workshops for troupes from different cities across the country. Mouhamadou Diol, the current coordinator of the Senegalese Festival of Forum Theatre, will share the history of this collective which has for the last 13 years confirmed the prominent place of this interactive tool at the service for communities working for development.


Wednesday 28th November 5.30pm

Between Gaia and Ground, Politics and Aesthetics in the Shadow of Geontopower

Public lecture with Elizabeth Povinelli

This seminar stages an encounter between, primarily, Hannah Arendt, Gregory Bateson, Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant and their legatee as a matter of intersecting forms of existence and their remainders. It then moves to contemporary debates in settler colonial, critical race theory and post- humanism. All discussions will circle around the question of how we understand the political and aesthetic directions, encounters and remainders of late liberal toxicity.


Friday 30th November 5.30pm

Setting A Performative Frame and Intersecting Fact and Fiction

Public lecture with Rosa Barba

Rosa Barba proposes a journey from cinema to another kind of film through an objectification of a filmic ontology, into a hyper-space whose nature and limits remain to be defined. How do we create a performative setting where fact and fiction can be intertwined? The seminar interrogates the industry of cinema with respect to various forms of staging, such as gesture, genre, information and documents, taking them out of the context in which they are normally seen and reshaping and representing them anew.


Wednesday 12th December 5.30pm

Public lecture with Rick Lowe

The objective of this seminar is to explore what is social and community engaged art and who is doing it. Because there is such similarity between social and community engaged art and social and community engaged work, we will explore the following questions: who has authority to determine when social and community engaged work is art or not. What does it mean for a social and community engaged work to be called art? What is the political significance of social and community engaged art?


Friday 14th December 5.30pm

Public restitution of Germination fellows during Partcours 7



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