Red Africa
Introduction to Red Africa
When international socialism met the developing world

Red Africa is a season of art, films, talks and events exploring the legacy of the cultural relationships between Africa, the Soviet Union and related countries that flourished during the Cold War.

The season, which is staged at Calvert 22 Foundation’s exhibition space in London, encompasses the complex geopolitical and historical links between the USSR, Yugoslavia and African nations such as Mozambique, Angola and Ethiopia. It also reveals the personal histories of people caught up in the dreams and disappointments inspired by the USSR, from the impact of revolutionary Russia on African-American writers of the Harlem Renaissance to the Cold War student exchanges that brought African filmmakers to study in Moscow.

The centrepiece of the season is the exhibition Things Fall Apart, curated by Mark Nash. Bringing together contemporary artists, filmmakers and curators with particular connections to Africa and its liberation struggles, the exhibition considers the history of the Soviet Union’s support for independence struggles in the developing world and its ambition to wield soft power through the media of film and art. It presents works that explore the crosscurrents of international solidarity and friendship that emerged from those links.

Other artists featured in the show explore the development of the Non-Aligned Movement and reflect on the legacy of historic notions of socialist friendship

The exhibition includes the Wayland Rudd Archive, a project by artist Yevgeniy Fiks that brings together representations of black people in Soviet popular press and propaganda; Onejoon Che’s video installation and sculptural maquettes which detail the projects of Mansudae Art Studio, the North Korean company which made many monumental sculptures in post-independence Africa; and works from Isaac Julien’s Fantôme Afrique photographic series reflect on the legacy of the post-independence cinema culture of Burkina Faso.

Other artists featured in the show explore the development of the Non-Aligned Movement, which aimed to create a third power bloc between the capitalist West and the communist East, and reflect on the legacy of historic notions of socialist friendship.

As part of the broader Red Africa season, The Calvert Journal presents this special series of reports, essays and photo stories which expand on a number of the themes and artistic projects included in the Things Fall Apart exhibition.

Red Africa runs from 4 Feb — 3 April 2016 at Calvert 22, 22 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP