Joseph Gaylard: Head / Central Africa
Kampire Bahana: Programme Manager East Africa
Derin Ajao: Programme Manager West Africa
CONTOURS is a programme of cultural exchange and collaboration with the arts scene in West, Central and East Africa, undertaken by the Johannesburg office of Pro Helvetia. The word contours references the idea of defining the shape of things (in the art of drawing) and of giving definition to a landscape (in the art of mapping and topography). Both of these meanings have resonance for the approach to engaging with these significant cultural geographies.
Since 2018, our office has been exploring new relationships with partners in major urban centres on the subcontinent outside of the Southern African region, notably in Bamako (Mali), Dakar (Senegal), Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Nairobi (Kenya), Kampala (Uganda),Yaounde (Cameroon), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). This expanded geographical engagement has evolved organically over time through our Southern African network and in response to the growth of significant platforms and organisational infrastructures in these regions.
During the course of 2021-2023 we are investing in more deliberate engagement in West, Central and East Africa alongside our core Southern African focus. Working in a decentralised framework with team members based in Kampala, Uganda and Lagos, Nigeria, we will look to actively develop new networks and opportunities for meaningful and mutually interesting exchange and collaboration with the Swiss arts scene, and to open up new possibilities for Swiss contemporary arts to be present in the region. This exploratory phase of activities is called the CONTOURS programme.
[Cover image from “InstanceNow” by Opiyo Okach]