Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (b. 1977, French Guyana; lives and works in Metz) In his works, Mathieu researches the history of colonial development and its effects on cultural identity and global contexts. Amongst other concerns, he is very engaged with film history and the decolonization of African states in the 1960s. In all his videos, photographs and drawings, as well as through archival material, he investigates the causes of collective amnesia. In this way, the artist is not only looking for the historical reasons behind current conflicts, but makes it possible to achieve multiple relations between personal identity, community and nation. Cultural objects always carry a form of memory within themselves, which Abonnenc sets up to be negotiated all over again in his works.
Sammy Baloji (b. 1978, Democratic Republic of Congo; lives and works in Lubumbashi and Brussels.) Ethnography, architecture and urbanism stand out as the key thematic focuses of his current artistic practice, which brings together photography, video, and archival documents relating to colonial history. His reading of the Congolese past is a way of analyzing African identity today, through the prism of the different political systems that our society has experienced.
James Beckett (b. 1977, Harare, Zimbabwe, lives and works in Amsterdam) explores a variety of interests of a historical nature – most notably the development (and subsequent demise) of European industry, chemistry and dentistry – as well as the more metaphysical aspects of dowsing and voodoo. Museological display mechanisms are key in Beckett's presentations, with craft-like assembly placing the work uncomfortably between a bourgeois decorative art and a crude social reality. The outcomes of these investigations entertain the peculiarity of human behaviour.
Elisabetta Benassi (b. 1966, Rome, where she lives and works). With references to cultural, political and artistic traditions of the 20th Century, from psychoanalysis and controversial themes of our contemporary age, the work of Elisabetta Benassi follows a difficult path: that of our times. Her work finds its form through the use of various media (installation, photography, video), as devices to create strong emotional suggestions and a different moral focus on the viewer. Emerging from the background of her work is a questioning of contemporary identity and conditions, their relation to the historical past and an encouragement to reconsider them through a backlit perspective.
Patrick Bernier (b. 1971, Paris) and Olive Martin (b. 1972, Liège), currently based in Nantes, France, first met at the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts in Paris. They have worked collaboratively for over a decade, developing a varied body of work that combines writing, performance, installation, photography and film. Their projects explore the issues of hospitality and hosting, as well as the porousness of identity. Their works are nourished by open collaborations with storytellers, lawyers specialized in author and foreigner rights, an American auctioneer, and chess players, among others.
Tamar Guimarães (b. 1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) and Kasper Akhøj (b. 1976, Copenhagen), based in Copenhagen, both together and separately create work that involves research, appropriation and reconfiguration, borrowing tools from sociologists, historians and ethnographers. Situated in the realm of conceptual storytelling, they explore objects, situations and residual histories of art, design, architecture and the institutions that present them, at times re-staging past events in order to examine the conditions of the present.
Maryam Jafri (b. 1972, Karachi, Pakistan, lives and works in Copenhagen and New York) is an artist working in video, performance and photography. Informed by a research-based interdisciplinary process, her artworks are often marked by a visual language poised between film and theatre and a series of narrative experiments oscillating between script and document, fragment and whole.
Adam Pendleton (b. 1984, Richmond, VA, USA, lives and works in New York) is a conceptual artist known for his multi-disciplinary practice, which moves fluidly between painting, publishing, photographic collage, video and performance. His work centres on an engagement with language in both the figurative and literal senses, and the re-contextualization of history through appropriated imagery, to establish alternative interpretations of the present and, as the artist has explained, 'a future dynamic where new historical narratives and meanings can exist.'