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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 076/2023 - 6 June 2023

YES WE CAN – ARTE presents film premiere at the Cluster of Excellence 

On June 14, 2023, the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" of the University of Bayreuth will present a film premiere in cooperation with the German-French culture channel ARTE: As part of its series "AfriKaleidoskop", the documentary "YES WE CAN - The New Black Painting" will be shown. This will be followed by a discussion about African art with the filmmaker Marion Schmidt, who will be present, and with academics from the University of Bayreuth. The public is welcome, admission is free.

AfriKaleidoskop meets ARTE
Wednesday, 14 June 2023, 7 to 9 p.m., Kulturhaus Neuneinhalb, Gerberplatz 1, 
95445 Bayreuth. Admission is free, the discussion will be held in German.

The Cluster of Excellence: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/exzellenzcluster
ARTE: https://www.arte.tv/de/

"AfriKaleidoskop", the film programme of the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" of the University of Bayreuth, continues the cooperation with ARTE, which started successfully in May 2023, with a film premiere. "YES WE CAN – The New Black Painting" is a documentary film by Marion Schmidt that deals with the so-called "Obama Effect". It addresses the question of whether the official portraits of the presidential couple, which were painted by African-American artists and generated a great response, were the beginning of a new era or just triggers of a short-lived hype. Throughout the Western world, the "Obama effect" has had the effect of increasing attention to the diverse and powerful, predominantly figurative paintings of Black artists.

As part of her film project, filmmaker Marion Schmidt visited three of these artists in their studios: Jerrell Gibbs from Baltimore, who opposes the common clichés of Black men with his portraits; Peter Uka in Cologne, whose works are often influenced by memories of his childhood in Nigeria; and Shannon T. Lewis, whose works explore what the experience of migration means – a topic the artist knows from her own experience. In addition, the film shows the encounter with the painter Michael Armitage, an important representative of the new generation of Black artists in London. As the son of a Kenyan mother and a British father, he grew up with Kenyan art. In his works he combines elements from different traditions of East African and European painting.

The premiere screening of the documentary film will be followed by a panel discussion. Participants will be filmmaker Marion Schmidt and two scholars from the University of Bayreuth: Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler, Chair of Romance Literary Studies and Comparative Literature with a special focus on Africa, and BIGSAS doctoral student Dandara Maia Schellenberg M.A. The audience is invited to join the conversation about the film with their own questions. The discussion will focus, among other things, on the questions that the film also deals with: Is the art of the African diaspora – that is, the works of African artists who live outside of Africa – perceived differently today than it was just a few years ago? Can the "Obama effect" also be felt in Africa or Germany, and how has the reception of black painting developed in recent years?

The event will be recorded and subsequently available on the ARTE Media Library and the Cluster's YouTube channel.

As part of the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at the University of Bayreuth, the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" has numerous points of connection with contemporary African art as well as its diaspora. Within the framework of its research work, the cluster supports projects on the art of the Indian Ocean region or on contemporary artists, among others. In addition, exhibitions of African artists are organized and presented in cooperation with the Iwalewahaus.

Sabine Greiner.

Sabine Greiner

Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
University of Bayreuth

Christian Wißler, Wissenschaftskommunikation

Christian Wißler

Deputy Press & PR Manager, Research Communication
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de