Between the Spark and the Pixel
Light in Fine Art in Africa

The YOUNG MASTERS’ PROGRAM 2020 collects, sorts and evaluates the use of natural and artificial light as material and medium of artists working on the continent. The curatorial idea of the YOUNG MASTERS’ PROGRAM is to research how in the 21st Century artists that are living in situations where electrons and photons are not continuously and in adequate quantities available work with light as material and medium in their practice. How do artists deal with this situation and how does it impact their works?

We are inspired by the initiative “Liter of Light”, a collective effort to provide access to light by night through the use of inexpensive, readily available materials to provide quality solar lighting to people with limited or no access to electricity. The idea is a contemporary version of the cobbler’s lamp as we know it from since the 14th Century: A glass ball filled with water focuses and projects bundled light, shoemakers used it to extend their working hours by collecting the light during dawn with a glass ball filled with water or wine on their desk. Nowadays, pet bottles filled with water and bleach, are used to extend the lit hours where there is no electricity. In combination with photovoltaics and LEDs a simple, but very helpful system supports now off-grid communities across the continent and the world. See the website for further info >>

We will generate an exhibition project that references the specifics of day- and night light on the continent, that takes into account that the archaic fireplace as much as the pixels on the screens of mobile phones or the off-grid living conditions as much as the grids of projection mapping. Low-tech and high-tech, retro-tech and innovation will be composed in one exhibition project. The exhibition is a first platform to search for the special features of how artists on the continent work with light as material and medium.

The exhibition will be the base of discussion for the conference that will ask for the difference of the use of light on the continent compared to Europe, the USA and Asia.


Mahshid Mahboubifar + Marc-André Weibezahn. YOUNG MASTER PROGRAM. SEE DJERBA Houmt 2019. Photo: Mahshid Mahboubifar.