About this project
“It’s important to create that new generation that will build the future we are all longing for. Now is the time for the new revolution in Africa. And the only weapon for this revolution is the brains we have, our ability of thinking.” Simon Njami
With this campaign we would like to fund AtWork Addis Ababa educational format, consisting of: a 5-day workshop for young Ethiopian art students and creative talents led by international curator Simon Njami and an exhibition of the created artworks at Addis Foto Fest .
We believe that the ability to think critically is one of the greatest freedoms a human being can attain. We also believe that people who are confronted with art should be freer to think about themselves. And only someone who is free is able to transform their society.
With AtWork we:
- stimulate critical thinking and debate among students and young creative talents of the African continent
- equip them with the tools to question the society around them and to drive change
- connect them and create a space where they can grow and flourish
We are committed to spreading the AtWork experience to reach more students and young creative talents, more cultural organizations, artists and educational institutions to create an interconnected Panafrican network of cultural influencers and youths. This unique community of creative thinkers can have an impact that goes beyond a single workshop, and can help re-write the narrative of the African continent.
As the next step on the AtWork journey we are planning to implement AtWork Addis Ababa in December 2016 in partnership with Addis Foto Fest.
1. WHAT IS ATWORK?
AtWork is an educational format by lettera27 and Simon Njami that uses the creative process to stimulate critical thinking and debate. Under the leadership of an artist or curator, students selected by the local partner, partake in collective discussions and self-reflection on issues such as identity, culture, and community, producing a personalized notebook which embodies the process of self-reflection and critical thinking triggered by the workshop.
The notebooks are then exhibited in an art show, co-curated by the students themselves.
The notebooks join the lettera27 permanent collection, appearing in international exhibitions and in digital form on at-work.org.
2. WHY AFRICA?
“Africa is a metaphor for the world. All that is happening there is happening everywhere else. Africa is young: which means that it represents a marvellous laboratory not only to reflect on the past, but to think another future and another way to relate to each other. Like a “tool that must be useful to all”, Africa must function and set new standards.” Ref. AtWork Toolbox by Simon Njami
3. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
There is a widespread problem with the vast majority of institutional educational systems in Africa and beyond. Too often, educational institutions teach young people only to master rules and memorize facts, entrapping students within the boundaries of hierarchy and conformism. With AtWork we want to provide those young people with another form of learning, another form of knowledge acquisition where we expose them to other forms of thinking, and facilitate them to think differently, to get out of their comfort zone, to be free to question the society around them.
4. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?
So far we have implemented 4 AtWork Chapters in Africa: AtWork Dakar (2012), AtWork Abidjan (2013-14), AtWork Kampala (2015), and AtWork Cairo (2015), reaching more than 200 students and building a community of more than 400 creative talents, artists and cultural influencers. Our next goal is to implement AtWork Addis Ababa during the Addis Foto Fest in December 2016. For this initiative we will be partnering with Aida Muluneh and her organization DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art.) Aida is a renowned Ethiopian artist, cultural activist and the founder of Addis Foto Fest.
The 5-day workshop, conducted by Simon Njami, will offer young Ethiopian photographers from various backgrounds the tools to think critically about their art practice - a skill that is currently missing in the Ethiopian photography education which limits the photographer’s creativity and their ability to unleash their transformative power. All the artworks produced will be shown during Addis Foto Fest in an exhibition co-curated by the students themselves.
5. HOW CAN YOU BE INVOLVED?
With your support, AtWork can continue its Panafrican journey. We believe that any relationship is a valuable exchange, so we have thought of some unique and meaningful rewards for your contribution that the AtWork community can offer you. As a backer you will receive regular updates on our activities, gaining an insight into the cultural events happening in and around the African continent. You will be able to connect with local emerging creative talents as well as the established artists and curators in the AtWork community. In addition, a group of AtWork artists have created exceptional art works, which are uniquely available for Kickstarter backers.
6. WHY KICKSTARTER?
Community. Art enriches the entire community, not just those making it. So we want to let the community enrich itself. With your support, we can make sure AtWork remains free for all participants. Kickstarter also enables us to share the progress of the initiative and the art made by the participants with a creative and committed global audience, spreading their message even further.
7. ATWORK CREATOR AND ADVISOR SIMON NJAMI
Simon Njami is a Paris-based independent curator, lecturer, art critic and novelist. He is one of the most prolific and influential contemporary intellectuals from the African Continent. His internationally acclaimed exhibitions have redefined contemporary African Art and his shows reached millions of people worldwide. Currently he is the Artistic Director of the ongoing Dak’Art Biennale 2016. Simon’s personal engagement with the African continent and its creative talents is his on-going mission.
Risks and challenges
AtWork is an itinerant educational format, flexible and adaptable to very different contexts. Therefore in case of the (very unlikely) occurrence of factors that would make the initiative impossible to implement (i.e political instability in the area or security threats etc), the format would be implemented in another African city.
The AtWork initiative has been implemented by lettera27 since 2012 and has developed a strong team ready to tackle any challenges that may come our way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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