Zagaza is a creative laboratory and incubator created by a collective of four Afro-descendant women artists from French-speaking Switzerland. The collective works to democratise inclusive spaces that centre, heal and celebrate people from marginalised communities through the production of festive events and reflective spaces, particularly for people of African descent with a history of colonisation, migration and forced displacement. Zagaza wishes to develop an international network of Afro-descendant, queer and queer-friendly artists to co-create platforms to continue to enrich and support their artistic communities and offer moments of liberation, rest, healing and regenerative respite.
In April 2022 Zagaza undertook a research trip in Accra, Ghana to co-host a session of Club Secrets with resident DJs from Oroko Radio. Inspired by the importance of orality in African cultures, this creative incubator allowed for the emergence of a discourse on “becoming in common”. It created a space to address the collective memory work and phenomenological trajectories of women and queer Afro-descendant artists and event curators in the clubbing scene.
Emerging from this, Zagaza was invited by SHAP SHAP to develop a multidisciplinary project together with Ghanaian artists for the GLOBAL SOUTH, WHAT’S UP? programme during Antigel Festival 2023. Zagaza returned to Accra from 3-15 January 2023 to continue their exchange with artists Emma Korantema, DJ MJ & Diamond, The Masked DJ and Ive the Stunner.
Emma Korantema is a Togolese and Ghanian DJ, organiser and model who is based in the UK. She co-founded the organisation Watwomxn (Where are the women) which focuses on promoting and creating platforms to showcase the artistry of African women. DJ MJ is one of the first visible womxn DJs and cultural producers in Ghana. In 2021, she won the female DJ of the Year Award at the Ghana DJ awards. She ultimately is one of the most prominent organisers doing social advocacy work centring women artists in her organising practice. She also performs exclusively with her other counterpart, Diamond who is an MC and rapper. For the past 5 years, they have co-created a festival that showcases diverse talents from their communities. The Masked DJ is a queer identifying DJ based in Accra. They are known for their technical skills and love for Amapiano. For the past couple of years, as a mentor, they have focused on amplifying the careers of younger DJs and allowing them to access clubbing spaces. Ive the Stunner is a model, choreographer and dancer. Zagaza invited her to the project as they aim to centre performance art cultures that represent joy, resistance and transmission that is nurtured in African dance cultures (clubbing).
During their time together, the artists explored ways of approaching the study of club cultures as fluid “sites of transformation and affirmation” and how to produce pluralistic epistemologies of clubbing cultures drawing from collective narratives and experiences. And flowing from this, how these experiences might inform a desire to shape club futures.
Zagaza explain: “For us, we wanted to impulse creative processes that put an emphasis on the importance of knowledge mobilisation and production that is centred on our own imaginative and ontological realities in the clubbing scene: “collective making” and developing participatory learning-teaching processes to shed light on the knowledge we already have and that which is yet to arise. Mostly, we are interested in tapping into our critical capacity as we explored together the club as a “microcosm of society” specifically in Accra becoming a continental hub for clubbing where DJS deeply impact the circulation of power, culture and people. We wanted to explore together how the meeting and crossing of continental and diasporic clubbing cultures shapes and impacts how the club ecology functions.”
Unfortunately, the second residency that was to take place in Geneva ahead of Antigel Festival can’t take place currently as planned.