Inventer-le-monde :
l'artiste citoyen
Résistances Itinérantes (Itinerant Resistances)

Friday 26 October 2012

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Abomey, the former capital of the Kingdom of Danhomè, is one of the last bastions of resistance of the Fon people to French intrusion. The entrance to the city serves as a reminder through a statue of Béhanzin, the last king. Standing with a proud and unbent stance, he extends his right arm as if to signal his desire to keep the colonizer from moving any further.

It is in this historically charged city that the Centre Unik (Unik Center) - the present-day workspace of Dominique Zinkpè - was founded and promotes artistic creation.Through the personal path of an artist such as Cyprien Tokoudagba, Résistances itinérantes (Itinerant Resistances) works towards "reconquering" the city and rediscovers the personal paths of the rulers who built the city and were its first citizens. This foray into the past, through an homage to the artist who is now gone and artistic interventions exploring the city, is also a dialogue between two generations of visual artists: the old and the new.

However, beond a confrontation between two generations of artists, it is also about exchange, a sharing between the old Africa and the new Africa, between the children of this continent and those from other continents. This exchange is intended to nurture the new free and proud Africa for which the Franco-Senegalese poet David Diop yearned. "In Africa, when an elder dies a library burns" was taught to us by the Mali writer Amadou Hampaté Ba to show the importance of dialogue between the generations. Knowledge is gained under this condition.

The primary theme that emerges from Résistances itinérantes is one of exchange, of transmitting one’s knowledge to others, and of who we truly are. It is a difficult exercise that makes us vulnerable to others, who act as sole judges of our accomplishments and faults. This opening up to one another also allows us to peer reflexively into ourselves. Only in this way can we pass our ideals and hopes to others and posterity. And this transmission is only the first step towards immortality, our immortality!

D.H.

Translated from French by Isabelle Havet.