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ex­hi­bi­tion, which is now show­ing at the Guggen­heim Mu­seum in Bil­bao, Spain.

Orig­i­nally cu­rated by Amelie Klein for the Vi­tra De­sign Mu­seum in Basel, Switzer­land, it is ar­guably the first ma­jor mu­seum sur­vey show of con­tem­po­rary de­sign in Africa, and neatly avoids stereo­types of hu­man­i­tar­ian de­sign and cul­tural craft by po­si­tion­ing it­self within the “Africa is ris­ing” nar­ra­tive.

How­ever, as the art world learnt with sem­i­nal ex­hi­bi­tions such as Africa Remix by Si­mon Njami in 2005 and The Short Cen­tury by Ok­wui En­we­zor in 2001, sur­vey ex­hi­bi­tions are in­her­ently flawed be­cause Africa is not a coun­try, and any show­ing of Africa in Europe will evoke the spec­ta­cle of the other, rais­ing the ques­tion of who this ex­hi­bi­tion is re­ally serv­ing, and to what end.

Nige­rian-born En­we­zor also played an ad­vis­ing role in Mak­ing Africa, which orig­i­nally opened just be­fore his cen­tre­piece Venice Bi­en­nale show last year. There is a feel­ing that his name gives the ex­hi­bi­tion some sort of stamp of ap­proval, par­tic­u­larly since his cu­ra­to­rial fin­ger­print is not dis­cernible. How­ever, in his cat­a­logue in­ter­view, his call for a new de­sign vo­cab­u­lary that in­ter­ro­gates the power re­la­tions of West­ern-im­posed

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