New publication investigates digital developments on the African continent

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New publication investigates digital developments on the African continent
Digital Imaginaries. African Positions Beyond the Binary.

KARLSRUHE.- ZKM launched a new publication called Digital Imaginaries. Digital Imaginaries. African Positions Beyond the Binary was published in German and English by Kerber Verlag Bielefeld/Berlin on March 23, 2021.

The book presents the results of the three-year cooperative project Digital Imaginaries (2018-2021). The project partners were Kr Thiossane and Afropixel Festival in Dakar/Senegal, Wits Art Museum and Fak'ugesi Festival of African Digital Innovation in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the ZKM | Karlsruhe. Digital Imaginaries investigated digital developments on the African continent by focusing on exhibitions, festivals and performances, seminars, lectures and artist residencies. The project leader was Richard Rottenburg, curators of the exhibitions in Dakar, Johannesburg, and Karlsruhe were Julien McHardy, Marion Louisgrand Sylla, Oulimata Gueye, Fiona Rankin-Smith, Tegan Bristow, and Philipp Ziegler.

Based on African positions, the texts demonstrate how more diverse and inclusive digital futures can be designed beyond binary opposites.

The close interrelations and frictions between digital imaginaries, technological developments, and complex local conditions are the leitmotifs of the Digital Imaginaries project. Digital Imaginaries, which was funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation TURN Fund, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Pro Helvetia, and the German Research Foundation, works from actual situations in Africa and challenges people to think of manifestations of the digital in a more heterogeneous and global way. The project shows what role African positions play in shaping the digital.

The contributions engage with the most diverse phenomena such as the continuing effects of toxic history and the conflictladen extraction of minerals which are so essential for the digital economy. They look at video games, architecture, and the adoption of smart city concepts and practices of innovation. They adress the the communization of resources, the digitization of elections, of calls for digital resistance and decolonial healing, the relationships between people and technology, as well as between utopias and dystopias.

"With the project Digital Imaginaries, the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Kr Thiossane and Afropixel Festival in Dakar, and the Wits Art Museum and Fak'ugesi Festival in Johannesburg, have explored and made visible the complex interrelationships between technological developments and perceptions of the continent of Africa." (Hortensia Vlckers, Artistic Director and Member of the Executive Board of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Preface to the Digital Imaginaries publication.)

Digital Imaginaries is part of the ZKM`s longstanding engagement with non-Western art worlds, for example, The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989 (2011-2012); Global Art and the Museum (GAM) (2006-2016); Cross-border (2013); Move on Asia (2013); and Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves (2007).

Both Dakar and Karlsruhe have been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts and are thus members of the global network of Creative Cities that recognize culture and creativity as an essential part of their identity.

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