Ato Malinda, On Fait Ensemble, 2010, Film still, Courtesy the artist.

Bouabdellah Zoulikha, silence rouge, 2009, © Bouabdellah Zoulikha.

Kiluanji Kia Henda, Othello´s Fate, 2013, Courtesy Nuno de Lima Pimentel Collection, Filomena Soares Gallery, Lisbon, and Fonti Gallery, Naples.

Andrew Tshabangu, Lores, © Andrew Tshabangu.

Kudzanai Chiurai, Iyeza, 2012, Film still, Courtesy The Artist and the Goodman Gallery.

The Aesthetics of Heaven, Hell, and Contemporary African Art

Edson Chagas, Oikonomos, 2013, Courtesy of the artist and Palazzo Gallery, Brescia.

Aïda Muluneh, The 99 Series (Detail), 2013, Series of seven photographs © Aïda Muluneh.

Edson Chagas, TIPO PASS, Filipe D. Kuangana, 2012, © Edson Chagas.

Yinka Shonibare, How To Blow Up Two Heads At Once (Gentlemen), 2006, Courtesy Sindika Dokolo African Collection of Contemporary Art.


Museum für Moderne Kunst
Domstrasse 10
+ 49 69 21230447
The Divine Comedy:
Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited
by Contemporary African Artists

March 21-July 20, 2014

In The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists, the MMK will serve as a stage for Dante’s Divine Commedy on 4,500 square metres of exhibition space. In this early fourteenth-century epic, which combines central notions of Christianity with religious concepts of antiquity, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) explores theological, philosophical and moral issues which have lost nothing of their social and political topicality to this day. His work forms the foundation for the exhibition developed by curator Simon Njami in cooperation with the MMK and to be presented subsequently at four further venues worldwide.

On three floors, one each devoted to heaven, hell and purgatory, works in a variety of media will be presented: paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos, installations and performances. A large number of the works will be conceived specifically for the MMK interior and premiered by the show. Taking their own widely differing cultural and religious backgrounds as a point of departure, the artists will examine individual thematic sequences of the Divine Comedy. In some cases the otherworldly realms will be visualized as godless places brought to life by the power of imagination; in other works they will be associated with ideas of divinity, hope or loss.

Against the background of the many Africa-related exhibitions of the past years, the MMK perceives the need to investigate the significance of African art not only in the post-colonial context but also with regard to aesthetics. The exhibition will accordingly not be limited to historical or political depictions; on the contrary, it will set its sights on poetry and art as expresive means of conveying and communicating the unspoken. The exhibition concept transports the universal issues of the Divine Comedy, an incunable of European literature, into the present and places them in a transnational contemporary context. 

Participating artists include: Jane Alexander (*1959 Johannesburg, South Africa), Fernando Alvim (*1963 Luanda, Angola), Ghada Amer (*1963 Kairo, Egypt), Joël Andrianomearisoa (*1977 Antananarivo, Madagascar), Kader Attia (*1970 Dugny/Seine-Saint-Denis, France), Sammy Baloji (*1978 Lubumbashi, Congo), Berry Bickle (*1959 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe), Bili Bidjocka (*1962 Douala, Cameroon), Wim Botha (*1974 Pretoria, South Africa), Zoulikha Bouabdellah (*1977 Moskau, Russia), Mohamed Bourouissa (*1978 Blida, Algeria), Nabil Boutros (*1954 Kairo, Egypt), Edson Chagas (*1977 Luanda, Angola), Loulou Cherinet (*1970 Gothenburg, Schweden), Lawrence Chikwa (Lusaka, Zambia), Kudzanai Chiurai (*1981 Harare, Zimbabwe), Dimitri Fagbohoun (*1972 Cotonou, Benin), Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny (*1971 Elfenbeinküste), Jellel Gasteli (*1958 Tunis, Tunisia), Pélagie Gbaguidi (*1965 Dakar, Senegal), Kendell Geers (*1968 Johannesburg, South Africa), Frances Goodman (*1975 Johannesburg, South Africa), Nicholas Hlobo (*1975 Kapstadt, South Africa), Mouna Karray (*1970 Sfax, Tunisia), Amal Kenawy (*1974 Kairo, Egypt), Majida Khattari (*1966 Erfoud, Morocco), Kiluanji Kia Henda (*1979 Luanda, Angola), Jems Koko Bi (*1966 Sifra, Ivory Coast), Abdoulaye Konaté (*1953 Diré, Mali), Nicène Kossentini (*1976 Sfax, Tunisia), Ndary Lo (*1961 Tivaouane, Senegal), Ato Malinda (*1981 Nairobi, Kenya), Pascale Marthine Tayou (*1967 Yaoundé, Cameroon), Julie Mehretu (*1970 Addis Abeba, Ethiopia), Myriam Mihindou (*1964 Libreville, Gabon), Nandipha Mntambo (*1982 Swasiland), Aïda Muluneh (*1974 Addis Abeba, Ethiopia), Hassan Musa (*1951 El-Nuhud, Sudan), Wangechi Mutu (*1972 Nairobi, Kenya), Ingrid Mwangi / Robert Hutter (*1975 Nairobi, Kenya and *1975 Ludwigshafen, Germany), Youssef Nabil (*1972 Kairo, Egypt), Lamia Naji (*1966 Casablanca, Marocco), Moataz Nasr (*1961 Kairo, Egypt), Cheikh Niass (*1966 Dakar, Senegal), Maurice Pefura (*1967 Paris, France), Zineb Sedira (*1963 Paris, France), Yinka Shonibare MBE (*1962 London, England), Guy Tillim (*1962 Johannesburg, South Africa), Andrew Tshabangu (*1966 Johannesburg, South Africa), Freddy Tsimba (*1967 Kinshasa, Congo), Minnette Vári (*1968 Pretoria, South Africa), Guy Wouete (*1980 Douala, Cameroon), Dominique Zinkpè (*1969 Cotonou, Benin).

Wangechi Mutu, Metha, 2010, Installationsansicht / Installation view Wiels Centre d’Art Contemporain, Belgium Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London © Wangechi Mutu.

Hassan Musa, Les clés du Paradis (Combattre), 2010, © Hassan Musa.

Moataz Nasr, Dome, 2011, Courtesy: GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin, Foto/Photo: Ela Bialkowska.

Youssef Nabil, You Never Left # I, 2010, Courtesy of Nathalie Obadia Gallery, Paris/Brussels.

Ato Malinda, On Fait Ensemble, 2010, Film still, Courtesy the artist.

Ndary Lo, The Day After, 2012-13, © Ndary Lo.

Jems Kokobi, CONVOI ROYAL, 2007, Courtesy Jems Robert Koko Bi.