Panya Routes

Panya Routes
Author: Kim Gurney
Publisher: Motto Books
Language: English
Pages: 234
Size: 16.5 x 24 cm
Weight: 440 g
Binding: Softcover
ISBN: 9782940672394
Availability: In stock
Price: €15.00
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Product Description

Independent art spaces on the African continent have flourished, particularly over the past twenty years in tandem with a youthful population in fast-urbanising cities. This book takes the reader on a journey to discover their DIY-DIT working principles: horizontality, second chance, elasticity, performativity and convergence. The itinerary begins at an empty plinth in Cape Town to closely track the performative and artistic afterlife of a colonialist statue whose toppling turned public space into common space. Next stop: Nairobi, Accra, Cairo, Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam — all rapidly changing cities of flux. The author visits five non-profit platforms that build narratives in public space by stitching together art and everyday life. They create their own panya routes, or backroad infrastructures of divergent kinds, in response to prevailing uncertainty. Working largely in collaborative economies and solidarity networks through refusal and reimagination, these “off-spaces” demonstrate institution building as artistic practice. By thinking and dreaming beyond the status quo, they fast-forward to creatively inhabit city futures that have already arrived in the global South. The key platforms featured in the book’s research are: The GoDown Arts Centre, ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge, Townhouse Gallery, Zoma Museum and Nafasi Art Space.

Edited by Mika Hayashi Ebbesen
Graphic Desgin by Marcia Novais

“This beautifully crafted book represents a new generation of scholarship, bringing together the fields of urban studies and art history. While cities and urbanization are themselves formal manifestations of the intersections across economy, politics and aesthetics that define modern life, the role of creative practice as a form of sociality is under theorized. Kim Gurney explores that role in the making of new urban societies in the Global South. She shows how Panya Routes or ‘backroad infrastructures’ that define Southern cities are neither temporary nor epiphenomenal but rather major forms for the formation of collective solidarities. A much-needed volume, it explores the emergence of new institutions as themselves a genre of art. This book is a tour de force of creative research and writing and should inform and serve the next generation of urban scholars with a new vision of how contemporary forms of art making and creative performance have become an integral part of the infrastructure of social and political life in the twenty-first century.”
— Vyjayanthi Rao, Senior Editor of the journal Public Culture, and Visiting Professor at Yale School of Architecture

“In an engaging analysis of five African independent art spaces, Kim Gurney convincingly highlights the powerful artistic and political potential of such autonomous art initiatives: to formulate novel propositions that creatively engage with the continent’s varied social realities; to redesign its material realities; to innovate the contents of what constitutes its public spheres; and to generate imaginings of alternative futures that bypass the tired discourses and practices of institutionalized political levels in order to embrace more inclusive and collective modes of living together. Panya Routes is an original, hopeful and timely reflection on the role of public art to rethink urban worlds in Africa and beyond.”
— Filip De Boeck, co-author of Suturing the City: Living Together in Congo’s Urban Worlds (Autograph, 2016)

“Gurney’s book deserves conversations with works on independent art spaces in Asian cities, where they have also been an important development in the last two decades. Gurney’s documentation and analysis are pioneering, and should inspire colleagues in Asia, because they are crucial in furthering the critical role of arts in contemporary dramatic transformation of their cities.”
— Marco Kusumawijaya, architect and urbanist, Director of RUJAK Center for Urban Studies in Jakarta

“Evocatively written, Panya Routes juxtaposes five stories about the creation of independent art spaces on the African continent. At a time of heightened capitalist co-option and the concomitant fetishization of ‘African art’, these stories about agential capacity, abilities to shapeshift, and ways of ‘doing art’, importantly position African creatives at the forefront of our contemporary moment of thinking in excess of the artworld status quo.”
— Ruth Simbao, National Research Foundation SARChI Chair in Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa, and Head of the Arts of Africa and Global Souths Research Programme at Rhodes University