The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists explores thematic sequences of Dante Aligheiri’s epic poem through new works by more than 40 contemporary artists from 19 African countries, as well as the African diaspora. Through a variety of media, the exhibition demonstrates how concepts visited in Dante’s poem transcend Western traditions and resonate with diverse contemporary cultures, belief systems and political issues. Overall, the exhibition provides a probing examination of life, death and continued power of art to express the unspoken and intangible.
“The concern here is not with the Divine Comedy or Dante,” explained Njami, “but with something truly universal. Something that touches us all to the very core, regardless of our beliefs or convictions: our relationship to the afterlife. In other words, it’s about our relationship to life and — thus — also to death.”
Originally presented by the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt/Main (MMK) in Frankfurt, Germany, earlier this year, the SCAD Museum of Art’s presentation will include several works not previously exhibited: neon work by Kendell Geers, a photo series by Youseff Nabil, large-scale works on paper by Christine Beatrice Dixie, a sound installation by Frances Goodman incorporating bridal fabrics cascading from the ceiling, an outdoor calligraphy garden by Moataz Nasr and a collage by Wangechi Mutu.
“The exhibition creates a powerful and culturally-layered dialogue between timeless questions and the voices of exceptional contemporary artists,” said Laurie Ann Farrell, SCAD executive director of exhibitions and organizer of the exhibition who previously served as a curator at the Museum of African Art in New York. “Our hope is that it will inspire the SCAD community of artists and designers, the Savannah community, and audiences from around the world to consider significant philosophical and ethical questions from entirely new and varied perspectives.”
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