1st AFiRIperFOMA Biennial will mainly focus on the African continent, the culture and its people, as observed by artists through a contemporary visual outlook.

1st AFiRIperFOMA Biennial
Contemporary Performance / Live Art Festival in Africa


Nov. 8 – 22, 2013
Harare, Zimbabwe

Artistic Director: Jelili Atiku

This first African contemporary performance art biennial will aim at inspiring the participants and the world at large to appreciate contemporary performance art in Africa.

It is incontrovertible that before the advent of colonialism in Africa, performance/live art was a popular art form in the continent. African art, which is known to have contributed immensely to our modern civilization and left a great legacy to the world, lays heavy emphasis on performance art. The numerous costumes and superior ancient African art sculptures, especially masks that are in reputable museums, galleries and art institutions all over the world were created for use in a performative context. Performance art is an integral part of African visual culture.

There was a glaring transmutation of this culture when the continent was under imperialism. However recently, the practice in the continent is flourishing with deep contemporary visual culture. There are several performance artists in the continent whose works display greatness, dynamism, vitality and tangibility as seen in ancient African art.

General Title: Mnemoric
1st AFiRIperFOMA Biennial, which is the first African contemporary performance/live art, will be held under the general title “Mnemonic”. Literarily, the word designates a device used in aiding memorization of ideas and materials – a device used to improve human memory. Therefore, the title and its inspiration are derived from the continent, as an allegory of the powerful multi-dimensionality of its past and contemporary history.

The title connotes “Aide-mémoire” in French and is reflecting the creative attitude in the use of symbolic contents in Africa. American author and anthropologist Peter Farb (1978) observed that: “When people form a social group, they must have some way to identify the different network of kin to which they belong, and also to display their particular status. Such distinctions would not be visible if people went about stark naked. So they declare their identity by placing symbols in the obvious places: on the body itself”.

The concept here, goes beyond any restrict literary meaning or usage, to a wider, metaphorical meaning like a refined deliberate shifting of knowledge: it is unwrapping new perspectives of investigation, research, transmission and perception of the African continent. Therefore, the participating artists in the Biennial will focus on performance and aesthetics in an artistically discourse dealing with profound issues of identity, the power of objects, as well as spiritual and cultural transmigration in Africa.

Programme of Activities
The Biennial will comprise a main and a parallel programme, which include:

  • Workshops for upcoming performance artists and the public,
  • Exhibitions of documentation of selected performance artists (still and moving images),
  • Symposiums and screenings on performance art practice in Africa; and
  • Live performance art

The activities of the 1st AFiRIperFOMA Biennial will be published in a publication after the event. The publication will consist of images of performances, participating artists’ CV’s, their statements, and texts on talks from symposiums.

Participating Artists
15 international performance artists, 40 performance artists of African origin, and 15 art historians, writers and curators are invited to participate in the Biennial.

For further information on participation in the 1st AFiRIperFOMA Biennial contact:

Jelili Atiku
Artistic Director,
+234 802 315 5408, +234 805 935 8116,

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