Monday, September 07, 2009

Word into Art into Africa



From 27 October to 4 November 2009, SPARCK will host the first WiAiA: an international workshop dedicated to innovative writing and publishing about contemporary creation in the African world.

WiAiA stands for Word into Art into Africa. It is one of several SPARCK projects. SPARCK – Space for Pan-African Research, Creation and Knowledge – is a multi-sited, multi-disciplinary and network-driven programme of arts and literature residencies, workshops, performances, exhibitions and publications centred on emergent and cutting-edge creativity across the African world - both on the continent and in the Diaspora. It is a programme of the Africa Centre, a South African non-profit organisation, focused on contemporary artistic practice.

WiAiA is designed to address the need, and to respond to active calls from arts practitioners with whom SPARCK collaborates, for (more) creative and (more) ethically engaged writing about the production of contemporary art in the African world – writing that addresses in original ways intersections between the arts and social, political and economic concerns in a globalised world.

The goal of these workshops is to provide a platform for fostering such writing and to assist in developing a strong readership for it. In the middle and longer term, WiAiA’s aim is to connect, grow and sustain a community of young writers who will shape, share and propel the engaged discourse of the workshops as part of an ongoing online publication project.
The Lagos workshop is the first in a series of three intimate and highly focused writers’ workshops, which will be staged in 2009-2010 in three cities: Lagos, Dakar and Kinshasa.
Each workshop will take the form of a master class and revolve around a particular art form. Each will take place in parallel with an emergent festival or exhibition WiAiA Lagos will focus on writing about contemporary dance and related performance genres (experimental circus; martial and trance arts; social dancing with historical roots in community activism). WiAiA Dakar will address writing on experimental video and WiAiA Kinshasa will centre on writing about installation art and network thinking.

Each class will be facilitated by a team of two practitioners: an established writer and an artist, each of whose work highlights intersections between creative processes and political and ethical engagement. WiAiA Lagos will occur in tandem with Ewa BamiJo, an innovative festival of contemporary dance and performance founded by the much-heralded Nigerian choreographer and dancer Qudus Onikeku. The workshop will be facilitated by Onikeku and award-winning London-based writer and blogger Sokari Ekine.


Participants in each of the three workshops will be confirmed, full-time writers. While an interest on their part in art as a subject will naturally be relevant, it is not expected that the participants will be art critics. A key focus, in all three workshops, is to encourage thinking out of the box: reflection that questions and challenges disciplinary boundaries. Participants as well as facilitators will accordingly hail from a range of fields. They will be journalists, essayists, poets, novelists and short story writers, bloggers and/or spoken word artists.

SPARCK has established and is further growing plans with several culture-focused websites in Africa, Europe and North America to publish on a regular basis for a period of two years short pieces by WiAiA writers on contemporary creation in the African world. Participation in WiAiA Lagos will accordingly not be a one-time short-term venture. It will involve serious, sustained writing both during the workshop itself and following the workshop. Participants actively engaged in the process can expect to be published in highly visible online fora read across the African world.

Applications to participate in WiAiA Lagos are sought from published writers as well as writers aspiring to be published. Particular consideration will be given to applicants who have a demonstrated interest in developing original approaches to writing about contemporary culture and creativity as they relate to globally driven social, economic and political phenomena and for whom writing is an integral part of a larger, ethically engaged and forward-thinking vision of life in a global world.
Participants shall be selected from an open call for submissions. The number of participants will be kept small (4-5 participants per workshop) to ensure that the experience is direct and intense and that it requires of all involved a highly personal investment.

All participants will be persons (hailing) from and/or based in West Africa, typically (though not exclusively) in Nigeria. Travel assistance may be provided for participants living outside Lagos.


Workshop participants will attend the entirety of the Ewa BamiJo festival (27-31 October 2009). The workshop proper will begin immediately following the festival, on 1 November 2009, and will last 4 days, ending on 4 November 2009. Participation throughout both the festival and the workshop proper will be full-time and will involve daily evening events and writing projects.

The language of the Lagos workshop will be English.

Accommodation, meals during the workshop and transportation to and from all events associated with the workshop will be provided.
Persons interested in participating in the workshop are invited to apply with the following materials:

• Detailed CV

• Letter stating why WiAiA is of interest to the applicant

• Submission of at least two (but no more than 5) writing samples:

- 1 manuscript of no less than 10 pages single spaced, published or in progress:

= a collection of 10 (or more) poems
= or 1 chapter (or more) of a novel
= or 1 short story
= or 1 essay
= or 1 article
= or 1 play
= or a combination of the above


- 1 text developed for the present workshop submission, of no fewer than 5 pages single spaced: an essay, article, short story, poem or related form that addresses/points to questions relating to contemporary art/creativity.

The deadline for submissions from writers interested in participating in WiAiA Lagos is September 20, 2009. Applications will be screened by the WiAiA Lagos facilitators and the SPARCK team. The names of selected candidates will be announced on 10 October 2009. Nomination will be by majority vote.

Applications should be sent by email no later than midnight on September 20, 2009 to the following email address:

Queries are welcome at the above-cited address.

For more information on SPARCK, the Africa Centre and Ewa BamiJo, see:
SPARCK – Space for Pan-African Research, Creation and Knowledge on Facebook


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