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For my lover, for my lover (120x90 cm)
The Prediction Machine, 2013
Painting installation, dimensions variable
Commissioned by -kunstplass 5, Oslo
This work tells stories of saints and superheroes. You’ll find references to Ethiopian church paintings, African barber salon art, a great deal of Sun Ra’s afrofuturism and even some retrofuturism to boot.
The works are inspired by Ethiopian church paintings. Although many scholars think that this type of painting is originated from the simplified Coptic version of Late Antique and Byzantine Christian art, I think it’s the other way around. Furthermore, I believe that Ethiopian paintings are the root of all modern african paintings today. This claim is hard to prove since the history of christianity in Africa began in the 1st century when Mark the Evangelist started the Orthodox Church of Alexandria in about the year 43. Which means Ethiopia came to be christian after Egypt. That does not mean though, Ethiopians didn’t paint before christianity
The Prediction Machine asks questions about Western norms in art, the meaning of Europe today and the persistent division between what’s designated the West and the non-West. Thanks to scholars Salah Hassan and Iftikhar Dadi, among others for leading me to these issues.
I’m an African who grew up in Sudan, and yet, ironically, since moving to Norway I’ve learned more about the history of painting in eastern Africa and around the Nile Valley. I’ve also learned about modern racism in the West, beginning with the time of European colonial ventures in Africa and other parts of the world in the mid-nineteenth century to its contemporary incarnations in the draconian immigration laws that close borders to Africans and others from the non-West and the general xenophobic and Islamophobic attitude that dominates modern European politics.
These attitudes have manifested themselves in visual and popular culture historically, and they still do today. The Prediction Machine is an effort to counter this.