Coumba Samba: Capital

Coumba Samba: Capital

Cell Project Space

Coumba Samba, 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

March 26, 2024
Coumba Samba
In collaboration with École Des Sables and Gretchen Lawrence
March 28–June 2, 2024
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École Des Sables opening performance FIFA: March 27, 6–9pm
Cell Project Space
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London E2 9DA
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Capital, the first major UK solo exhibition by Senegalese-American artist Coumba Samba, features a room-sized mud enclosure, photographic prints, and a commissioned performance titled FIFA produced in collaboration with École Des Sables (Dakar, Senegal), and artist Gretchen Lawrence (UK/Estonia) to produce a permanent soundscape for the exhibition. The project revolves around the circulation of objects, forms, materials and ideologies between the West and West Africa; a feedback loop of defined futures, economic suppression, and the event of hope.

In Capital, Samba explores the act and structure of recycling Euro-American trash, shiny in its amassed grandeur. Junk is a direct material representation of the logic of capital, its colonial underside, and the failed prophecies of progress that come with it. Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s ill-famed corruption case findings mark how these ideological fantasies shape individual aspirations, and spill out into the arena of global politics and finance, where the desire for symbolic power drives underhanded flows of capital.

The choreography of FIFA, co-developed by Alesandra Seutin (Artistic Co-Director, École Des Sables) and Coumba Samba, is informed by a mixture of repetitive body motions and gestures found in football, Senegalese Laamb wrestling, and the South American game Queimada. The imprints of the dancers’ movements, hardening in the drying dirt, are a double agent: a promise of elusive agency and a desire machine for absent living bodies.

Gretchen Lawrence’s sound composition echoes in every part of the gallery space during and after the performance, through a loudspeaker installation reminiscent of those found in public spaces and mosques. The sound features field recordings from Senegal and distorted kicks and sirens taken from royalty-free loops.

The large-scale installation of stainless steel, plexiglass, and industrial plywood continues and builds upon Samba’s artistic language and attitude, noting their invisibilised production, intentionally irreverent to the historicity and fetishistic value of these materials. The artist plays with (art) historical tropes and idioms, creating sharp contrasts, a bricolage of ideas and matter that sit awkwardly in relation to one another. Perhaps they were never supposed to touch or beautify each other.

Curators Milika Muritu and Adomas Narkevičius.

In response to Capital, a one-day event will invite artists, professionals, and academics from different fields to talk about what African diasporic practice means today, hosted by Coumba Samba alongside Galerina (Niina Ulfsak, Mischa Lustin), and Infinite Fxx (Côvco).

Senegalese-American artist Coumba Samba was born in 2000 in Harlem, New York City. In 2023 she presented solo exhibitions This is Money, Drei, Cologne; and Couture, Galerina, London. Recent group presentations include 118 1/2, Emalin; World as diagram, work as dance, Emalin, London; Ways of Living #3, Arcadia Missa, London; and Slow Dance (3), Stadtgalerie, Bern. Recent performances as NEW YORK have been held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK (2023); UCLA Broad Art Center, Los Angeles, US (2023); and The Lewben Art Foundation, Vilnius, LT (2023).

École des Sables is an International Centre for Traditional and Contemporary African dances based in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal. Founded in 1998 by Germaine Acogny, considered as the Mother of Contemporary African Dance, and her husband Helmut Vogt, the school is dedicated to professional training for young dancers and choreographers of African origin. 

Alesandra Seutin is one of École des Sables’ Artistic Directors. Seutin is an award-winning multidisciplinary performance artist and creator, whose focus is exploring movement as a foundation for theatre, media and site-specific works. The daughter of South African and Belgian parents, Alesandra was born in Harare, Zimbabwe. She has reached global audiences through her work as an artistic director, choreographer, performer, mentor, teacher, movement director, dramaturg and writer for performance and music.

Gretchen Lawrence is an Estonian performance and audio-visual artist working with found objects, flicker animation and digital media.

Generously supported by British Council Biennials Connect, Embassy of Estonia in London, Alvaro Barrington Studio, Patrick Collins and Arcadia Missa.

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Cell Project Space
March 26, 2024

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