January - February 2023 — Multi-Disciplinary
Ann Mbuti is a Zurich-based independent writer in the field of contemporary art and culture on topics that carry the potential for social change. Since 2020 she has been working on mythologies, because storytelling has been a way of sensemaking for centuries. Ann is interested in the notion of contemporary mythologies – the stories that capture the current global moment.
During her research trip from 9 January to 5 February 2023 in Kenya, with the Contemporary& office in Nairobi and in Nigeria, with the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization in Lagos, Ann will research and collect non-dominant myths and narratives that provide material for contemporary mythologies.
“The stories we tell ourselves significantly influence how societies function and what they consider important”, Ann explains, “and the current moment of upheaval requires new impulses. A changing world also requires other narratives about it. That’s why I would like to explore the mythologies from non-dominant cultures and locate relevant stories, ideas, and worldviews within them that are future-oriented.”
During her research trip Ann aims to establish connections with artists, galleries, institutions, as well as storytellers, griots, theorists and writers working in the field of mythology. She is particularly interested in East African stories of tricksters, and the West African origin of myths that were spread across the world through the transatlantic slave trade and became part of Caribbean, Cuban, and Brazilian mythology.
The research will inform a new book on the topic of contemporary mythologies. Using the tool of mythopoeia, in which traditional mythological themes and archetypes are integrated into a fiction, Ann intends to create contemporary mythologies drawn from a variety of sources and establish a connection between different cultures and societies through related themes.
Ann Mbuti is an independent writer in the contemporary arts field. She works as an art critic for different international magazines and her contributions are published in exhibition catalogues such as for the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennial 2022, documenta15 or the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022. In October 2022, her book “Black Artists Now” was published by the German publishing house C.H. Beck. Ann focuses on ideas and positions that use the tools of artistic practice to change perception, thought or reality. Currently she concentrates on mythologies, oral history, sci-fi, and the interplay of fact and fiction. After graduating in media studies and cultural publishing, she founded the online journal kurious.ch for new forms of cultural journalism in 2017 and in 2018 she completed a traineeship at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2020, she was one of the co-founders of the Public Fiction Group, a transdisciplinary collective with the intention of manufacturing other realities. Ann lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.
[Portrait by Denise Baltensperger]