Artist and social activist, Owanto, in conversation with Azu Nwagbogu, Curator at Large for Photography at Zeitz MOCAA, and Director at LagosPhoto. This conversation will process Owanto’s intentional and unintentional mining of the archive in her series La Jeune Fille – la Fleur. This conversation will also consider the use of the archive and photography to elevate the debate on socio-political issues pertaining to women and the initiate ceremonies of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).
Owanto is a multi-cultural Gabonese artist. Owanto grew up in Gabon, where she spent her formative years, and eventually moved to Europe where she studied Philosophy, Literature and Languages at the Institut Catholique de Paris in Madrid. She now lives between Europe, Africa, and the United States.
Owanto has been working on her art for over 30 years and has taken a multidisciplinary approach in her creative process and works across a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation and performance. Her work aims to be a voice of African women in the arts. Owanto had the honour of representing the Republic of Gabon at the 53rd International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2009, with a solo show in the first-ever Pavillon du Gabon, curated by Fernando Francés, Director of CAC Malaga, Spain. She was the first artist from sub-Saharan Africa to have a solo exhibition in a National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
About Azu Nwagbogu:
Currently, Azu Nwagbogu is the Curator at Large of Photography at the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography at Zeitz MOCAA. Nwagbobu is the Director of the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), a non-profit organisation based in Lagos, Nigeria that he founded in 2007. Nwagbobu is also the Director of LagosPhoto, an annual international photography festival that he founded in 2010. Additionally, Nwagbogu is the Director of Art Base Africa, an online journal focusing on contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. He is a collector and advisor for other private collectors.
Nwagbogu has curated numerous exhibitions internationally including ‘Dey Your Lane!’ Lagos Variations at BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels, Belgium) in 2016, co-curated with Ruth
Simbao ‘Tomorrows/Today’ at the Cape Town Art Fair (Cape Town, South Africa) in 2016, and ‘Tear My Bra’ at Rencontres d’Arles (Arles, France), also in 2016. He has contributed texts to several publications including the catalogue Martin Roemers: Metropolis, Berlin, Germany, Hatje Cantz, 2015 and Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, 2015.