Here is the full transcript of Touria El Glaoui’s Talk: Inside Africa’s Thriving Art Scene at TED conference.
Touria El Glaoui – Moroccan entrepreneur
Let’s talk about how the narrative of Africa is being told, and who is doing the telling. I want to share with you the selection of work by contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora.
I love this art. I find it beautiful and inspiring and thrilling, and I really hope I am able to pique your interest. I want to share something about myself and why art matters to me. I’m the daughter of an artist, so that means that growing up, I had the chance to see my father do artwork in his studio. My home was surrounded by art, and I had an early art education, being dragged to museums and exhibitions over the summer holidays.
What I did not understand, really, at the time, is that this also gave me an early understanding about why art is important, how to look at it, how to understand it, but also how to love it. So art matters to me on a personal level, and not only because it’s beautiful and inspiring and thrilling, but because art tells powerful stories.
All these artists have stories to tell you about what it means to be African, stories that tell you and touches about our African identity, but also stories that tell us about who we are as Africans, but also stories that tell us about our complex history.
So how can art tell you powerful stories? I want to share with you this series by Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop. This is a series of self-portraits, and the artist in this particular series is focusing on the representation of Africans in art history between the 15th to the 19th century.
I want to show you how, with one image, Diop is able to touch on our African identity, on the politics of representation, but also on our social value system. In this particular self-portrait, Diop is actually referencing another portrait by Anne-Louis Girodet. This picture is doing a portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley. Jean-Baptiste Belley was a native of Senegal, a former slave of Haiti, but during his lifetime, he also was elected to represent the colony at the third government of the French Revolution, and he advocated strongly for the abolition of slavery.