SPARCK – Space for Pan-African Research, Creation and Knowledge – is a programme of experimental multi-disciplinary arts residencies, workshops, symposia, exhibitions, publications and performances centred on innovative, ethically driven approaches to urban space.
SPARCK projects are developed in partnership with a growing network of artists and cultural practitioners at work throughout Africa and the Diasporas, in a call and response pattern that privileges out-of-the box, self-sustaining initiatives.
Across the African world, SPARCK engages with creators working in image, sound, word and video, installation, transient architectures, cutting edge technologies and emergent media on projects that question the status quo, refusing clichés and easy answers.
Projects are rarely one-off undertakings; driven by the artists who take part in them, they are encouraged to grow and bring into being new projects within and beyond SPARCK’s ambit.
SPARCK projects dissolve boundaries between disciplines and types of knowledge, opening up spaces of democratic exchange to foster dialogue across age, class, gender, spatial, occupational and ethnic divides.
SPARCK has no one centre or base. It docks with partner initiatives and institutions, developing residencies with artists and mounting exhibitions, happenings and performances in a wide variety of spaces across the world. From street to studio and online, since its inception in 2008 SPARCK has staged projects in over a dozen countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.
Urban spaces and futures
Original, flexible set-ups offer artists and thinkers unorthodox and highly productive platforms to address how cities in Africa and her diasporas live, breathe, morph and grow. Alternative ways of thinking about urban spaces and cultures prompt radical re-readings of global experience and pave the way for socially inclusive practices of daily, communal engagement. Determined to do away with clichés and preconceived notions, SPARCK projects engage with urban Africa as both a focus and a viewing platform – a space from which to look out at the world, so as to imagine the future of cities planet-wide.
SPARCK is run by a two-woman, activist-artist-writer-scholar team: Kadiatou Diallo and Dominique Malaquais. Together, we are experimenting with novel ways of collaborating. Hierarchies are replaced with joint decision-making and collective responsibilities, physical centres and offices with mobile and virtual workspaces. Process and results are equally important and always experimental.
SPARCK was founded in 2008. Its history, however, goes further back and is linked to the inception of the Africa Centre, a Cape Town based NGO dedicated to contemporary cultural practice on the African continent. The idea of the Africa Centre emerged, initially, from a discussion process that brought together nine artists, scholars and activists from across Africa, Europe and North America over an 18-month period (2004-2005). These discussions pointed towards the need for a programme of residencies, performances, publications, exhibitions, workshops and interventions focused on experimental urban creation across the African world. In 2007, a second team of practitioners came together to work on the theoretical and thematic structure of this programme. The members of this team were Kadiatou Diallo, Faustin Linyekula, Dominique Malaquais and AbdouMaliq Simone.
Since its launch a year later under the name SPARCK (Space for Pan-African Research, Creation and Knowledge), the programme has been led by Kadiatou Diallo and Dominique Malaquais. A fluctuating initiative, it oscillates between intensive practice and slower-paced, intermittent and long-term initiatives.
To learn more about SPARCK’s founding conceptual framework, click here.