A new Artist Residency scheme is launching in Angola, enabling artists from across Africa to pursue research, build networks and bring creative ideas to life in a contemporary African setting. The residency is a collaboration between Africell, the only US-owned mobile operator in Africa, and ANGOLA AIR, an Angolan arts programme.
‘Africell x ANGOLA AIR’ offers four one-month long residencies per year. Candidates are initially selected from Africell’s operating markets of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Angola. Artists take residence in Luanda, Angola’s capital, but have opportunities to travel to other parts of the country. At the end of each annual cycle, a special group exhibition will highlight work produced by participating artists. During their residencies, artists undertake most of their creative work at the ANGOLA AIR studio in Luanda.
“Africell x ANGOLA AIR is exciting because it will spark creative connections in Africa”, says Ziad Dalloul, CEO, President and Founder of Africell. “There are plenty of opportunities for African artists to travel elsewhere, but fewer opportunities for them to travel on the continent. By enabling the movement of young artists within and between our operating markets, the residencies will establish new networks, deepen cross-border ties, and enrich Africa’s artistic landscape”.
The first artist to take residence is Hawa Jane Bangura, an artist from Sierra Leone. A former lawyer, in 2015 Hawa Jane set up ‘The Barray’, a collective of 15 Sierra Leonean artists which holds biannual exhibitions in Freetown. She specialises in acrylic and oil painting in addition to sculpture and installation art. She believes that spending time in Angola will develop her practice.
“Angola is known for its experimental creative scene”, Hawa Jane Bangura says. “It is a perfect environment for me to explore the questions I find most interesting, focusing on the concept of identity: how we, as African women, depict ourselves and tell our stories in terms of our history, our culture and our place in the world. I am excited to be part of Africell x ANGOLA AIR because it will add new angles to my work”.
Artists selected for Africell x ANGOLA AIR must have track records of collaboration with other artists and show intent either to use digital elements in their work or to reflect on digital themes (such as the social impact of digital technology) through their work. Artists are expected to not have party political alignment, and those who have not previously participated in international residency programmes are prioritised.
Commenting on the opportunities available in Angola, Founder of ANGOLA AIR Dominick A Maier Tanner says: “Since 2018, ANGOLA AIR has brought international artists to Angola, immersing them in local culture and encouraging them to absorb Angolan influences. Through this collaboration with Africell, we are enabling even more artists to travel to Angola and establishing fresh connections between Angola and other parts of Africa. Africell x ANGOLA AIR is a major addition to the Angolan contemporary arts scene and will help entrench Angola’s reputation as an arts hub”.
Africell x ANGOLA AIR is an initiative of the Africell Impact Foundation. Created in 2022, the Africell Impact Foundation streamlines and structures Africell’s cultural and community-focused investments, connecting the work the company does across its operating markets and maximising its positive social impact. Promoting contemporary African art is a key focus area, and Africell x ANGOLA AIR advances this objective.
Africell Angola CEO Chris Lundh says that in Angola, as in Africell’s other operating markets, developing a corporate presence on the arts landscape is important for differentiating the Africell brand. It also provides valuable support to Angola’s art community.
“Africell is a new, popular and fast-growing tech brand in Angola,” he explains. “Our approach has been to focus on and support what people care about. Angola has a heritage of creative expression, which manifests in art, food, fashion and music. Africell x ANGOLA AIR relates directly to this side of Angola’s character, and we are delighted to be facilitating artistic exchange between Angola and other African countries”.
Africell Angola launched services in April 2022. Since then, it has won almost ten million customers and expanded into multiple provinces, including Luanda and Benguela. Africell is the leading mobile operator in Sierra Leone and The Gambia and a rapidly emerging challenger in DRC. Other ongoing Africell Impact Foundation initiatives include sponsorship of the Congo pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2023, in collaboration with the DRC’s national museum.