The Africa Center in New York City Presents Project Junction, a New Installation by Ezra Wube

Image: Ezra Wube, "Project Junction," 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.

Press Release

THE AFRICA CENTER PRESENTS PROJECT JUNCTION, A NEWLY COMMISSIONED INSTALLATION BY EZRA WUBE

January 30 — August 23, 2020
Public Opening: Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 PM

Wube’s mixed media, site-specific installation explores the origins and cultural significance of ingredients in African cuisines, inspired by research conducted in Teranga and in Harlem’s African restaurants within walking distance of The Africa Center.

Stop motion animations, line drawings, and objects integrated into the installation reflect Wube’s discoveries about historical and cultural associations, global dispersion, and reference how African communities across America construct symbolic environments to emulate collective experiences of diaspora and home.

New York, January 22, 2020 — The Africa Center is pleased to present Project Junction, a newly commissioned installation by Brooklyn-based artist Ezra Wube. In this mixed media, site-specific project, Wube explores food as an expression of collective identity in its ever-evolving state. The installation incorporates animation, painting, prints and objects.

Wube’s creative process involved visiting Teranga at The Africa Center, as well as other African restaurants within walking distance of the Center including Cross Culture Kitchen, Le Baobab Gouygui, La Savane, Safari, and Zoma. Wube researched ingredients of dishes on the restaurant menus and took note of the décor and ambience of each location.

Wube’s stop motion animations use the ingredients of each dish to reflect his discoveries about their native origins, symbolism, historical and cultural associations, related folklore and beliefs. The line drawings unfurling throughout the space hint at these figurative connections, while tracing stories of the ingredients’ historical cultivation and global dispersion. The objects displayed within the installation recreate those found on the walls of the local restaurants, and reference how African cultures and communities across America construct symbolic universes to reflect on their experiences of diaspora and home.

The installation is accompanied by a futuristic takeout menu that viewers are invited to take with them. The menu is based on Wube’s conversations with restaurant proprietors about dishes they imagine will continue to exist in the year 3020 A.D.

For Wube, culinary tradition is a lens for exploring transformations in the relationship between Africa and America through the everyday lives of people and their food. Wube says: “Through these layers of connected time and space—the past, the present and the future, the local with the global—I aim to highlight the global assemblage and continuous rejustification of African identities.”

Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center, says: “The intersection between visual culture and food is a rich and underexplored area, particularly as it relates to African cuisines and culinary culture. We were thrilled when Ezra accepted this commission to delve into these themes through an immersive installation. Wube’s work invites us to trace the journeys of distinctively African ingredients and the local restaurants that serve them, transporting us through layers of time and space, into our contemporary dining experience and our imaginations.”

Wube began working in the space on January 13, 2020 and will create the installation over a period of approximately three weeks, until the opening on Thursday, January 30. The public is invited to watch the artist at work. For more information, visit www.theafricacenter.org.


Image: Ezra Wube, “Project Junction,” 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.


Image: Ezra Wube, “Project Junction,” 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.


Image: Ezra Wube, “Project Junction,” 2020, stop motion animation. Courtesy of the artist.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Ezra Wube (b. 1980, Ethiopia) is a mixed media artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work references the notion of past and present, the constant changing of place, and the dialogical tensions between “here” and “there”. His exhibitions include the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil, Brazil; The 2nd edition of the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, France; “Gwangju Biennale”, Gwangju, South Korea; Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; “Dak’Art Biennale”, Dakar, Senegal and Times Square Arts Midnight Moment, NY. His residencies and awards include Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY; Work Space, LMCC Residency Program, New York, NY; Open Sessions Program, The Drawing Center, New York, NY; Rema Hort Mann Foundation; the Triangle Arts Association Residency, Brooklyn, NY and The Substation Artist Residency Program, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Since 2015 Ezra organizes Addis Video Art Festival, a platform for innovative international video art in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. http://ezrawube.net/

ABOUT THE AFRICA CENTER

The Africa Center is transforming the world’s understanding of Africa, its Diaspora and the role of people of African descent in the world. Serving as the hub for the exchange of ideas around culture, business and policy, and in the spirit of collaboration and engagement with individuals and institutions who share the Center’s values, The Africa Center inspires enthusiasm, advances thought and action around Africa’s global influence and impact on our collective futures. The Africa Center’s physical presence on Fifth Avenue at the intersection of Harlem and the Museum Mile embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa and its Diaspora in the heart of New York City. Learn more by visiting www.theafricacenter.org.


If You Go:
Ezra Wube’s New Exhibition ‘Project Junction’ at The Africa Center in NYC
Thursday, January 30, 2020
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
The Africa Center
1280 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Ezra Wube: Project Junction is organized by Evelyn Owen, Associate Curator, and Henone Girma, Programs Coordinator. This exhibition is made possible with support generously provided by The Africa Center’s Board of Trustees.
More info at www.theafricacenter.org

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