Mmegi Online :: Africa 54 defines Africa
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Friday 13 July 2018, 06:00 am.
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Africa 54 defines Africa

Over the years social commentators have raised concerns on how the American and European media tend to address Africa as a country yet it is a continent with 54 countries.
By Dumisani Ncube Fri 11 Mar 2016, 14:57 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Africa 54 defines Africa








A notable example is when creative rapper, Kanye West, referred Africa as country that has always been assisted by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  Through writings and different forms of the media, many a social commentator have addressed this issue explaining that Africa is a continent, not a country. The latest work is Ann Gollifer’s Africa 54, a series of paintings, which define Africa as a continent that has 54 sovereign states. The two-metre paintings describe Africa through the 54 respective African flags for each country. Each painting tells a different story and the flags have been conceptualised in a way that relates the stories.  The flags are placed next to each other according to their alphabetical order, starting with Algeria and Zimbabwe being the last one. Africa 54 vividly describes Africa as a continent with many countries, different backgrounds and how it came to be. The artwork strongly raises an issue of showing Africa as a continent, which has one of the biggest populations in the world.

Narrating to Arts and Culture how this issue has affected her, Gollifer leans back and takes a deep breath as she looks around her art studio, which is full of artworks and collections. “I decided to discuss this issue of Africa as a continent after experiencing people from outside Africa labelling it a country. I stretched a two- metre canvas as I started working on the first painting of all the 54 flags,”

The first painting of the Africa 54 has all the African flags placed next to each other painted in full with their respective emblems. The painting has a red boundary line, which reflects the struggles such as bloodshed and strife Africa faced way back even before the colonial era.   “They float within a red border. I was very conscious of how the boundaries have been imposed by the colonial powers. Many of the flags have the same colours and when you put the flags together, the colours combine. After putting borders, colonialists separated tribes, communities

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and clans making the social geography of the continent with an imaginary border. Gollifer added that upon completion of the first painting, she noticed that it was so graphic while she was still at a point of discussing with herself about how the African continent looked like before the colonial era. She then decided on working on a second installation of the paintings.

The second painting has all the 54 flags, but this time around it does not have emblems and the lines are joining as they have a green border line. “I left out all the emblems because I wanted to go back to the virgin land of Africa before the colonial borders were put. The green boundary reminds me of the forests, the equator and the wildlife in African countries”. Immediately after completing the second painting, she worked on the third installation, which is totally different from the first two. Instead of painting the flags she used different African print clothes from respective African countries, a demonstration that they also represent their respective countries of origin.

“The third painting reminds me of the singing and dancing within the various African tribes and communities. This artwork also reflects on how we celebrate the continent, our background, values and where we have come from despite everything.”

The contemporary artist explained that as an artist it is important that one gets to address various social issues in the form of art. She however stated that with art one is not controlled as they work on what suits their style, background and passion.

The first and third paintings of the Africa 54 are displayed at the American Embassy residence while the second one is at Sanitas. Africa 54 has only been exhibited in South Africa before.

Gollifer is planning on working on the fourth installation of the paintings.

Gollifer believes in addressing social issues through art, “It does not necessarily mean that they have to be politically related issues but anything that affects the community in any way.”

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