AiW note: Art And About Africa is a free platform that allows its users to discover artists and art spaces in the vibrant African art scene on the continent, facilitating where to go, what to see, and who to engage with.
The platform uses an interactive art map with the aim of making a more accessible African art scene visible, to enhance connections, empower local artists, and unleash local art scene potential. You can browse the map here to explore the virtual cartography of all spaces, artists’ studios and art institutions on the African continent as well as festivals, biennials, fairs and possibilities, and to have the opportunity of experiencing art from home, or wherever you are.
We were delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with Art And About Africa’s founder, Lidija Kostic Khachatourian, for her Words on the Times – an AiW Q&A series inspired by the spirit of community and resilience, initiated to connect the blog’s communities of work and life through their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AiW: Could you tell us about your work and how your plans have been affected by the pandemic?
Lidija Kostic Khachatourian: ArtAndAboutAfrica is an idea I was working on during 2019. Without knowing we had scheduled our official launch in February 2020, I liked the idea of the date 20.02.2020.
Considering that the main aim of the platform is to help travelers visit the artists’ studios and the galleries across Africa, we had organized a promotional tour to explain the website which had to be cancelled, and obviously we haven’t promoted all the features of the website due to the pandemic. We are waiting for travel to open up again to move forward with that.
Anyhow, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to work on inserting more artists into the platform and to reach out to more people in order to start creating a network of like-minded fellows.
In what ways are you working now that you weren’t before?
We cannot really respond to this – we are a pandemic baby!
What have you found most supportive and/or heart lifting in this time?
As a platform which aims to support artists in Africa during the first months of pandemic, we have launched a crowd-funding companion in their support, “Art: an Essential Need, Emergency Grants for Artists living in Africa”.
Over a few months we have been able to collect $15,500 — in exchange for an e-book which includes works and words by 31 artists (that benefit from the initiative) and 5 guest artists that supported it. You can read more about it here.
Being able to help artists in such a difficult and sudden moment was rewarding and heart lifting.
How can our blog communities support you?
ArtAndAboutAfrica is a very young non-profit platform. I’m looking to create a network of people willing to help us gather the information. We need contributors as well as partners where we can cross promote and dialogue with each other. Please be in touch!
Lidija Kostic Khachatourian is the founder of AKKA Project Gallery and Art and About Africa platform. Originally from Serbia, Lidija moved to Dubai (UAE) in 2008 with her family. While exploring Sub Saharan Africa she began looking for emerging artists and organizing exhibitions for them in the United Arab Emirates and in Europe. Through projects such as AKKA Project Gallery, Art And About Africa, and Africa & the other 54 countries, she has contributed to the celebration of the art, culture and cuisine of multiple African countries. Lidija is in the process of opening the third gallery in Switzerland to further support the growth of African artists.