Plate of pondu
The Art Africa Fair (artafricafair.com) has come to Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. From February 24 until March 5 it will offer a unique, multisensory exploration of the continent’s most exciting contemporary talent.
Unlike the museum-styled exhibition experiences that we have come to expect from such shows, the organisers have encouraged artists to challenge stereotypical understandings of the modern African artistic existence.
The aim is to introduce and propagate new representations about Africa, from Africa.
At the forefront of the creative process is the Franco/Cameroonian/Chadian designer, artist and cultural entrepreneur, polymath Pierre-Christophe Gam. Gam’s remarkable show, entitled Prophetic Installation, uses design, food and philosophy to examine parallels in the lives of Jesus of Nazareth and the late president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara. Gam explains that his work is framed as an exploration of the “complex, coded narratives that are rooted in the global African experience”. As part of this ambitious endeavour, Gam has joined forces with Ivorian chef Loic Dablé to cook up a deliciously different food art piece, entitled The Chop Bar. Located within the fair’s Social Hub, this epicurean experience offers west and central African culinary classics such as pondu (Congolese; pounded cassava-leaf stew) and fufu (mashed, starchy vegetables such as cassava and yams), served from a platform that is simultaneously reminiscent of a modern fast food drive-thru and an ancient religious altar. Gam says he intends his offering to “act as a food counter” but also as a “performance space and a talk platform”.
He explains that the inspiration for The Chop Bar was one of Sankara’s main tenets, that his countrymen should consume what they produce. The artist observes that “in the context of post-colonial Burkina Faso and Africa, this message goes beyond the simple consumption of produced artefacts and goods. The Chop Bar implies the need to take pride in cultural identity.
“Consume what you produce also comes to mean consume who you are; build from your point of location in the world, based on your own specific needs and ideals,” he says.
Gam’s Prophetic Installation enables diners and the artistic soul to investigate African ways of being. The drive-thru melds the sacred into the profane. And past and present become one in a plate of pondu.