New Spaces + Faces – Introducing Nafasi Academy

If you haven’t noticed… Change has been in the air… and on the grounds … at Nafasi over the past months.

2020 has marked the beginning of Nafasi Academy for Contemporary Art, Expression, and Inclusion – bringing new spaces into our world.

The opening weeks of the Nafasi Academy for Contemporary Art and Expression have been the culmination of months of intense building, a year of intense planning, several more years of learning, and over a decade of dreaming.

This new chapter of Nafasi’s story really kicked off on 2nd February with our first intensive week for the first cohort of our Student Members. The week was facilitated by artist, Gadi Ramadhani, and arts manager / social enterprise director, Agnes Senga Tupper, and consisted of lectures, assignments, discussions, and ice breakers.

It offered a frame for examining bigger questions about art, history, and culture:

“What is Nafasi? Why does it exist? What is Contemporary Art? Why does it matter? Why do you want to become an artist? What is the role of art in society? What is the goal of Nafasi Academy, and what do we hope will be the outcomes at the end of this year for students, the academy, and Nafasi as a whole?”

… the first of five question-guided modules that will form the basis of the Nafasi Academy’s theoretical curriculum.

Guests helping us to explore this subject included renowned Artist and Professor, Elias Jengo, former Nafasi Director Jan Van Esch, and Nafasi members past and present – such as Amani Abeid and Harriet Kwetukia. At the end of week, the students were afforded a walk-through Tanzania’s rich art history with a guided tour through the National Museum and visit to the studio of Hendrick Lilanga, a grandchild of the great George Lilanga whose legacy he carries both stylistically and technically.

Following this week-long theory intensive, the Student Members will now undertake six weeks of part-time technique mentorships across various artistic disciplines led by artists Gadi Ramadhani, Safina Kimbokota, Paul Ndunguru, and others. In between will be another week of intensive theoretical grounding and more focused technique sessions to be led by Vilma Pimenoff, the first of three Nafasi Academy Artists in Residence.

The format of Nafasi Academy curriculum is designed to provide both a transnational, long form arts experience whilst retaining Nafasi’s artist-led spirit and the flexibility to adjust in process. Even in isolation, the first week, culminating in a community event and exhibition of Student Member self-portraits, has provided ample hope for an exciting future for both the Academy and the very talented members of its first cohort.

Nafasi thanks everyone who has been involved in the journey so far, and looks forward to months and years of more learning, growing, and dreaming within these colourful walls.

We welcome you for a visit!

In the meantime read more about Nafasi Academy here.