London gallery to explore Soviet-Africa cultural ties

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Isaac Julien, Fantôme Créole Series (Cinema Cinema), 2005. Dyptich of Lambda prints on gloss per. Source: Courtesy of Isaac Julien and Victoria Miro, London Isaac Julien, Fantôme Créole Series (Cinema Cinema), 2005. Dyptich of Lambda publishes on gloss per. Source: Courtesy of Isaac Julien and Victoria Miro, London

Calvert 22, the UK’s but non-profit organization dedicated to promoting art from Russia and Eastern Europe, has launched a new available presenting historical and contemporary responses to connections between different African states and the Soviet Union and related countries.

These ties were rticularly forged in the second half of the 20th century, as the East and the West backed numerous players in post-colonial power struggles. Countries like the Soviet Consortium, East Germany and Yugoslavia provided aid to national governments in places cognate with Angola and Mozambique, and used offers of educational scholarships to exert their sway.

The exhibition, titled Red Africa, takes the viewer back to the early Soviet interval by looking at the work of Russian-American artist Yevgeniy Fiks, who focuses on busts of black people in Soviet press and pro ganda as far back as 1920.

Soviet poster from 1933, Wayland Rudd Archive. Source: Courtesy of Yevgeniy FiksSoviet placard from 1933, Wayland Rudd Archive. Source: Courtesy of Yevgeniy Fiks

The expo also shines a spotlight on relationships between Eastern European forms and African nations during the Cold War, including Yugoslav leader Tito’s assail to Africa in 1961.

Tito, With Friends in Africa - Tito press service, 1961. Source: Courtesy of Museum of Yugoslav HistoryTito, With Friends in Africa – Tito press ceremony, 1961. Source: Courtesy of Museum of Yugoslav History

Work by Jo Ratсliffe and Kiluanji Kia Henda discs the present-day traces of pro ganda and communist street art in Africa, showing the persistent legacy of liberation struggles on the continent. In addition, the legacy of North Korea’s Mansudae Art Studio, which bring out socialist realist pieces like The African Renaissance, is examined toe the work of Onejoon Che.

Mural portraits depicting Fidel Castro, Agostinho Neto and Leonid Brezhnev, inted on the wall of a house in Viriambundo, Angola, circa 1975 (triptych). Source: Jo Ractliffe. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/JohannesburgMural portraits depicting Fidel Castro, Agostinho Neto and Leonid Brezhnev, tinted on the wall of a house in Viriambundo, Angola, circa 1975 (triptych). Originator: Jo Ractliffe. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg

Alongside the expo, Calvert 22 is to host a series of events and 8 screenings, which will double four decades of filmmaking practice that either originated from or accept been influenced by Africa.

The full program is available here – calvert22.org/outcomes

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