Alpha Crucis - Contemporary African Art: Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo

16 June - 6 September 2020
Exhibition curated by André Magnin

Alpha Crucis is the brightest star in the constellation of the Southern Cross, located in the Milky Way. It is one of the most visible in the night sky and indicates the direction of the South. As such, it is often used by navigators, but the star is only visible from the southern hemisphere. For that reason, it was not mentioned in European antique astronomy.

This exhibition at Astrup Fearnley Museet gathers seventeen artists from seven African countries. A constellation of artists from the South, brought into northern sight. Stars in the sky are not connected to each other; they are associated in constellations and given names by astronomers. Here, the curator acts like an astronomer, ordering the cosmos to give coherence that offers a certain reading of the world.

The seventeen artists gathered here originate from numerous countries, belong to different generations and have diverse practices. But what they all have in common is that, living in Africa, they are all able to see Alpha Crucis. Can this be seen as a symbol of hope for a pan-African utopia, in which, despite antagonisms, all African countries look in the same direction towards the same guiding light, and do not need to look north when making their art?

The title "Alpha Crucis" makes a statement advocating a reorientation of the polarised art world towards the south, in order to fight the ignorance that has endured too long and to shed new light on contemporary African art.

Alpha Crucis represents the final instalment of a series of exhibitions launched by director Gunnar B. Kvaran in 2005, exploring the art scenes in different countries and on different continents. The previous exhibitions have presented contemporary art from USA, Brazil, India, China and Europe, and now we shine a light on Africa. The exhibition will highlight the originality and diversity of African art represented by 17 artists who live and work in sub-Saharan Africa.

The museum has invited André Magnin as guest curator. He has a long-standing relationship with Africa, and possesses a deep level of insight, knowledge and experience regarding various local art scenes on the African continent. Magnin was one of the main curators behind the legendary Magiciens de la Terre at Centre Pompidou and Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris in 1989, which was the first exhibition to simultaneously display art works by contemporary artists from all of the world's continents in one place.