Mansour Ciss Kanakassy
Born in Dakar in 1957, Ciss studied sculpture at Institut National des Arts in Dakar from 1973 to 1977. He has exhibited widely in Africa and Europe in group and solo shows at the Dakar Biennale, Musée National du Mali, Bamako, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, and Museum der Weltkulturen, Frankfurt am Main among other venues. His works are in the collections of Museum der Weltkulturen in Frankfurt am Main, the National Collection of Senegal and the Central Bank of West African States. He is the recipient of the Léopold Sedar Senghor award for artistic excellence. He lives and works in Berlin and Senegal. He is founder of the Villa Gottfried/Senegal. Exhibitions throughout Europe, " great Awards LS.Senghor Dak'Art 2008. "founder of the Laboratory of Déberlinisation, since 2001" Since 2001 he works on Laboratoire de déberlinisation an exemplary artistic project of Afro A Prototype Currency for all of Africa.
Mansour Ciss Kanakassy was formed to the National Institute of the plastic arts of Senegal in master's level. In this time Senegal was steered by the President Léopold Sedar Senghor, the intellectual, the poet and the big founder of the African art. Kanakassy perfected in the religious and magic tradition of the represented art not the sculptors of this time.
The art of Kanakassy is political. He underwent a second initiation since he lives in Germany. He lives in Europe and in Africa, thus in two different worlds and in many of its projects his purpose is to pass on the knowledge and the understanding of each of these two cultures. Himself(itself) says that he has something who does not exist: two countries, Berlin and Dakar.
Mansour calls his project " Déberlinisation " to express sound supports in the African Unity, so hinting at this conference of 1884-85. By analogy in the Euro, he conceived a currency as an art object, created with Canadian Artist Baruch Gottlieb, " the AFRO ". This visionary currency communicates a vision of a prosperous and peaceful Africa just around the corner.
Right now he goes on with his personal researches in fashion design, experiments video and photography, and develops his theory about cultural mutations by the way of installations. He’s also a painter.
He has built „La Villa Gottfried“ in N´Gaparou (Senegal) to increase concrete partnership with artists from other countries, workshops exchanges, seminars and symposium. The house was inaugurated during the last Biennale of Arts in Dakar in May 2002
„Ciss never gave nevertheless the search up of the meanings of traditional forms. Its work, which avails itself today also of the new, digital media, sets its historical points of reference both on the balance of power resulted from the colonialism, and on the before-colonial knowledge and its symbolism.
In reference to the notorious Congo Conference that took place in Berlin from November 1884 to February 1885 under the spearhead of the first German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, Berlin-based Senegalese artist Mansour Ciss Kanakassy created an art laboratory in 2002 called Laboratoire de Déberlinisation (laboratory of deberlinization). The laboratory is a conceptual framework for artistic action to unpack the exploitation and mercantile ideologies applied on Africa in the late nineteenth century known as the Scramble for Africa. It works collaboratively by reaching out to diverse professional backgrounds and artistic practices.
The Congo Conference was convened to discuss economic dominance and partition of the African territories among European powers. It is widely recognized that the partitions and borders drawn then, followed by a ruthless colonial rule, are—among other things—at the root of contemporary crisis and disruptions that undermine economical and political progress in Africa.
Aware of the insurmountable obstacles that would indefinitely postpone the advent of a single currency and a unified space for mobility and exchange, Mansour Ciss Kanakassy and other contemporary African artists such as Pascale Marthine Tayou have substituted themselves to the states to achieve the seemingly impossible. They do not need endless committees, high level meetings, majority votes and they like to create a symbolic land to assert their political stand.
The Afro, an imaginary single currency for Africa, is the artistic response to bankrupt policies of the post independence era. It is a conceptual work using multiple practices such as installation, print, performance and public lecture. The exhibition is accompanied by a newspaper with texts by Simon Njami and Koyo Kouoh as well as an interview of the artist by David Cadasse.