G.A.S. Foundation’s archivist Naima Hassan led a hybrid reading group session, uniting Art and Culture Study Group members, G.A.S. residents, alumni, and industry stakeholders. Together, they delved into early writings on restitution through the prism of FESTAC’77 and FESMAN.
Naima Hassan and Billy Fowo, during their shared residency at G.A.S. Foundation, inventoried scattered archives and ephemera linked to these pivotal Pan-African festivals. In his segment, Billy Fowo explored the significance of multilingualism and translation in bridging the gaps within performance-based archives, offering profound insights into cultural connections.
The event showcased poignant literary pieces: Alma Robinson's 1977 essay, "African Art in Foreign Hands," published in FESTAC '77, and a selected essay 1966, "Le Cameroun au Festival Mondial des Arts Negres (FESMAN)," published in Abbia Journal. A glimpse into the Picton Collection Archive added a visual dimension to this exploration.
The event was divided into two; the first section was in the form of a conversation between Billy, Naima, and the study group both online and in person, while the second section was held at the foundation, during which attendees physically interacted with rare titles and volumes from the Picton collection, including volumes of the Black Orpheus publication, a literary journal founded in 1957 by German expatriate editor and scholar Ulli Beier, and a first edition print of the official publication from the FESTAC '77.
The Art and Culture Study Group convenes quarterly, hosted by the leadership of the Ford Foundation in Nigeria, to foster a network of cultural practitioners based in Nigeria.
Reading group essay: Robinson, Alma. 1977, “African Art in Foreign Hands,” in FESTAC '77, published by African Journal Limited and International Festival Committee.
Response essay: Le Cameroun au Festival Mondial des Arts Negres (FESMAN) published in Abbia Journal, No 12-13, March-June 1966.
Archive table: A small selection of associated materials from the Picton Collection Archive, including issues of the Black Orpheus Journal.
ABOUT THE FACILITATORS
Billy Fowo and Naima Hassan, G.A.S. Foundation 2023. Photograph by Tomi Olukosi.
Naima Hassan’s research-based practice spans multiple forms, including archival practice, curatorial writing, publishing, and sound. She is cataloguing the Picton Collection, held at G.A.S. Foundation Lagos and tectonik.TOMBWA archive with composer Victor Gama. Together with Leyla Degan she forms SITAAD, an artistic-research collaboration focused on epistemological habitations of colonial archives. Hassan has undertaken residencies and convenings in international settings such as Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto, Research Centre for Material Culture, District Six Museum, Iniva, Nottingham Contemporary, Paris Peace Forum, British Institute in Eastern Africa, International Curators Forum, British Institute in Eastern Africa, and National Maritime Museum. She is a 2022 alumna of TheMuseumsLab jointly organised by the DAAD, HTW Berlin and Museum für Naturkunde. She has undertaken studies at the University of Oxford and Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2023-24 she is a Soomaal House Fellow in association with the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts Hub Residencies.
Billy Fowo is a curator and writer based in Berlin and working at SAVVY Contemporary – The Laboratory of Form-Ideas, Germany. Very much grounded in the idea of the Laboratory, for Billy Fowo, rethinking and stretching the idea of the exhibition as a format, forms an essential part of his research and curatorial approach. With points of interest in various fields and disciplines such as the sonic, linguistics and literature, Billy Fowo questions through his practice what is considered knowledge and the spaces in which we find knowledge.
Recent projects include It Go Have To Adjust. On Language As Parasite, SAVVY Contemporary (2023), Unraveling The (Under-) Development Complex, An Ode to Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, 50 Years On (1972 - 2022), SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin (2022), Wata Go Lef Stone, On the Perpetuity of Accara Across the Oceans, an offering within A Parábola Do Progresso, Sesc Pompeia, São Paulo (2022). Billy Fowo is one of the coordinators of SAVVY Records and is currently a participant of de Appel’s 2023 Curatorial Programme.
This residency was financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through a collaboration between GIZ and Goethe-Institut in association with TheMuseumsLab Alumni Projects.