The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory Revisited by Contemporary African Artists

Fifty artists from more than twenty African countries are taking a look at the classic of world literature. The major show, curated by internationally renowned author Simon Njami, is covering the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main’s entire space of 4,200 square meters, and includes twenty-three works produced explicitly for this occasion. Taking their own widely differing cultural and religious backgrounds as a starting point, the artists investigate individual thematic sequences of The Divine Comedy.

In his epic poem, Dante reflected on theological, philosophical and moral matters that still bear relevance for the issues facing society, politics and the economy today, but also questions of faith. The exhibition proceeds on the premise that Dante’s visions are applicable to many cultures and many religions.

In the wake of a number of Africa-related projects over the past years, this exhibition aims to inquire into the significance of African artists’ work not primarily in the post-colonial context, but above all with regard to their aesthetics. The focus is accordingly less on historical or political content than on art as an expressive means of transporting and communicating the unspoken.

The exhibition curator Simon Njami (b. 1962) has organized numerous exhibitions of contemporary African art, among them “Africa Remix” (2004–2007). He curated the African pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2007 and the FNB Joburg Art Fair in Johannesburg in 2008, and has published numerous writings on African art.

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