Issa Samb

Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts)

Issa Samb. Photo: Christa Holka, 2014.

May 31, 2014

Issa Samb
From the Ethics of Acting to the Empire Without Signs

4 June–26 July 2014

Press view: 3 June, 10am–noon
Preview and performance: 3 June, 6:30–8:30pm

Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts)
Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA

Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) is pleased to present the first UK solo exhibition of artist Issa Samb at Rivington Place this summer, curated by Koyo Kouoh, Artistic Director of Raw Material Company based in Dakar. Samb will make a new installation referencing the changing environment of his atelier as well as his unique collaboration with artist, writer and director Jean Michel Bruyère.

Born in Dakar in 1945, Samb founded the Laboratoire Agit’Art with a group including filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety, painter El Hadj Sy, and playwright Youssoufa Dione in 1974. From its inception the Laboratoire was a revolutionary and subversive artist collective that brought together many creative disciplines from painting to performance.

Samb has developed a recognisable approach of provocation, collective action and improvisation that is rooted in modes of contemporary art and theatre, the role of the artist in the society, and the interactivity of traditional African performance. This comes together in sculptural form at the courtyard of his atelier in the Rue de Jules Ferry in Dakar, where found and transformed objects and materials including threads, fabrics, clothing, branches, stones and other ephemera are installed around a tree. A total artwork, this dynamic arrangement provides an entry point into the spirit of Issa Samb as an artist as well as the Laboratoire Agit’Art as a collective.

The gallery installation at Rivington Place will include materials and works shipped from Senegal as well as found elements collected in London’s street markets. Central to the exhibition will be fragments of the artist’s writings and footages and videos as well as short films from the oeuvre of  Jean Michel Bruyère in which Samb plays the role of an actor at the service of Bruyère’s durational performance-installations..

This exhibition is part of Practice International, a project supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union.

Issa Samb was born in 1945 in Senegal and lives in Dakar. In 1974 he founded, together with a group of artists, writers, filmmakers, performance artists and musicians, the Laboratoire Agit’Art, whose aim was to transform the nature of artistic practice from a formalist, object-bound sensibility to practices based on experimentation and agitation, process rather than product, ephemerality rather than permanence. With a focus on the contingent character of actions, Laboratoire Agit’Art was informed by a critique of institutional power. He lives among his artworks in his courtyard-home-studio, which combines all sorts of objects: a permanent exhibition that varies on a daily basis.

Jean Michel Bruyère is a French-born artist, writer, director and graphic designer based in Marseille and Berlin. His theatre-performance-based work is grounded in the tradition of improvisation and actionism. He is the director of numerous films, videos and plays.

Koyo Kouoh is an exhibition maker and cultural producer whose curatorial work revolves around the redefinition of the contemporary African persona. She is the founding artistic director of RAW Material Company, a center for art, knowledge and society in Dakar.

Practice International is an initiative of Casco (Utrecht), Iaspis (Stockholm), and Iniva (London). The project aims to reflect on our positions as artists, curators and institutions, to think how we can embody and meet new forms of practice involving agents of social change, introduce new terms into the discourse, and question institutional habits.

Press Information 
Please contact: Sheena Balkwill: sbalkwill [​at​] / T +44 (0) 207 749 1246

About Iniva
Iniva is a centre for global art and artists. Focusing upon artistic practice, we explore key issues in society and politics through exhibitions, educational projects, digital initiatives, research and publishing. We offer a space for artistic experiment, cultural debate and the exchange of ideas, reflecting the diversity of contemporary society. Iniva is supported by Arts Council England.


Issa Samb at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts)
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May 31, 2014

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