Africa | Nosy Art Echange – (re)connecting the African mainland to it surrounding islands through...

Meghan Judge is a Johannesburg-based artist who has curiosity for people, places and narratives from around the world— as well as her own. “Power is an important focus in my work”, and she is always trying to see how it works, to learn, expose and play with it. She recently joined the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South Project at WITS University to conduct a PhD in the arts so that she could delve deeper into her practice, that has been taking shape in and around the Indian Ocean. In early 2010 Meghan, along with artists Rakotoarivony Tahina (Malagasy) and Conor Ralphs (South Africa), were taken aback by the lack of knowledge exchange and dialogue between Malagasy and South African artists, and began discussions around the possibility of an artist exchange program. This led to the establishment of Africa|Nosy Art Echange. ANAE is a platform that aims to build and strengthen artistic networks between Africa’s mainland and the surrounding islands. It facilitates exchanges between young artists from these geological spaces — redirecting the commercially driven framework for the art world with an emphasis on cultural producers that are on the periphery of the arts ecosystem. I had an interview with Meghan to find out more about ANAE and their current residency, SIRA.

Could you please share more about what Africa|Nosy Art Echange aims to do and why you think it’s important?

The Africa|Nosy Art Echange (ANAE) really serves to bring artists, their different knowledges and their resources together. It focuses on building into — or creating networks that (re)connect creative practice in places that are near to each other; that are historically connected but are currently separated. The area we work in spreads out from the pivot point of Madagascar, reaching to South Africa with activity in SADC and Kenya. It has been complex working with a pivot point in Madagascar because the location of this small continent sits off the edge of ‘Southern’ and ‘Eastern’ Africa — right in between the line that compartmentalises a lot of funding. Further, many of its neighbouring islands are still a part of the EU. So finding funding to bring artists with similar interests to participate in residence together can be a real challenge. But remaining with what it is, and not tripping into the various nodes that operate within those compartments, is in itself important. In fact, the idea of ANAE arose out of conversations between artists who realised the difficulty in accessing each other — that there are so many barriers you need to hurl yourself through (language/borders/culture/land and ocean/access etc.). At some point we realised that we are all actually on our own little islands in our countries with a vast space between us, despite perceived ideas of there being one homogenous ‘grand land’ (the African continent) and then some little islands that surround it in the ocean. This reflects in the name ‘Africa|Nosy Art Echange’ where ‘nosy’ means island and is separated by something ‘|’ that both divides and draws together the two words... - by Christa Dee

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