Wikipedia as a Space and Strategy for Negotiating Art and Cultural Knowledge in African Cities alla conferenza Embattled Spaces – Contested Orders di VAD-Vereinigung für Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland 2012 all’interno del panel 32 (New) spaces and strategies for negotiating art and cultural knowledge in African cities curato da Kerstin Pinther e Larissa Förster.
In African cities individual artists, artist collectives and independent cultural institutions have distanced themselves from state-initiated cultural politics, they truly offer alternative platforms for the production, representation and reflection of cultural knowledge and they have gained recognition among a growing international network. But did they achieve to negotiate hegemonic national representations and Western Art History (Rasheed Araeen)?
This paper presents the experiences of three cultural institutions (doual’art based in Douala, Kër Thiossane based in Dakar and Chimurenga based more or less in Cape Town) to show how major cultural institutions based in African cities working with high quality projects and wide networks surely question hegemonic national representations and Western Art History (Achille Mbembe) but they still struggle to posit themselves at a urban, national, continental and international level.
The paper questions the borders of African cities and it presents Wikipedia as a different and powerful space and strategy for negotiating art and cultural knowledge. With over 280 languages, 20 million articles, 100.000 active editors and over 365 million readers, Wikipedia is much more than a website (Andrew Lih): it is today everybody’s textbook. Structured in tribes and dominated by new gatekeepers (Mathieu O’Neil), Wikipedia has the power of a new nation and it determines what knowledge is. It aspires to produce a collaboratively built free knowledge capable of presenting all points of view in a neutral way: for this very reason it is the right space for negotiating hegemonic national representations, Western Art History, art and cultural knowledge and for acknowledging the role of individual artists, artist collectives and independent cultural institutions based in African cities and their work as first sources.
Wikipedia, copyright, copyleft, Creative Commons, knowledge, collaborative knowledge, mainstream knowledge, rewrite history, cultural institutions, African cities, doual’art, Chimurenga, Kër Thiossane, Douala, Dakar, Cape Town, interfaces, Western Art History, Art History, GLAM.