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Culture and Safety in Africa

June 17, 2014

UNAP gallery and ateliers

Name of space
UNAP gallery and ateliers

On the institution
Established by MPLA in 1977 UNAP – União Nacional dos Artistas Plasticos (“National union of plastic artists”) was conceived for the applicability of arts to the people of Angola. UNAP’s ambitious program originally included teaching painting, design and sculpture, hosting conferences and exhibiting artists work. Today the UNAP struggles to find funding, while its fellow artists struggle to find exhibition spaces and the building that hosts the art school and galleries is falling apart. Fernando Alvim expressed his belief that UNAP breeds artistic conservatism, as most of the artists are painters while the Triennial focuses instead on fostering young talents and “newer” media.

on the space / location
The UNAP building located in rua Rainha Ginga in Luanda is ruining and half abandoned. The UNAP archive – according to Nadine Siegert it was badly organized but existing in 2009 – has been destroyed after discovering that it got rotten due to infiltrations of rain from the roof. The exhibition space on the storefront is underutilized, while the second one on the corner has been recently occupied by young artists Rita GT and Francisco Vidal thanks to their own initiative with the support of Universidade Lusiada de Luanda. However, that space is currently closed due to the bad structural conditions of the building.

level of significance
It used to be one of the major places for art-production in Luanda, with two galleries in the first floor and a number of studios in the second, providing space for some of the local artists.
Despite the intentions declared by UNAP current director Bastos Galiano, saying that the government is preparing several actions to be taken in favor of a consolidation of the UNAP in Luanda and in order to install new decentralized centers around the country, the actual condition looks contradictory. UNAP artists and other independent artists complain the inaction of the governmental institution, with no belief in future programs.

June 17, 2014

UNAP independent artists’ atelier


Name of the cultural space
UNAP independent artists’ atelier

on the artists
Since the end of 2012, facing the difficulties UNAP has been facing in the recent years, independent artists have occupied a part of the 1st floor of the UNAP building in order to create a collective workshop for their activities.
The studios of UNAP are not only working place for the artists but also offer a shelter, favoured by the artist’s friends to use the space for convivial moments and other uses.
Nelo Teixeira, N’dilo Muitima, Toy Boy, Pineldi Ayrcan, Rui VJ are some of the artists working in this space.

on the space / location
Despite the cleaning and fixing, the state of the occupied rooms remains precarious.The spaces are used both as workshops and exhibition spaces.

level of significance
Artists do not know for how long the authorities will allow them to stay there. The most important issue behind this occupation is indeed the need for them to have a shared and central space where they can meet and work. Although the UNAP should provide yearly residences for Angolan artists, this has not been the case since years. Most of the artists, due to the expensive rents in the center of Luanda, live in the bairros. The traffic jam that blocks every day the circulation in the city for hours do not allow a fast commuting and amplify the distances. Thus, artists living in different bairros end up working there but isolated or meeting in the center but with limited or no space to work.

June 17, 2014

Teatro Elinga


Name of the cultural space
Teatro Elinga

on the institution
The Elinga Theatre group (from the umbundo ‘elinga’, meaning action, initiative, exercise) was created in 1988 following the Tchinganje group (1975/76), succeeded by the Xilenga Theatre (1977/80) and the Theatre Group of the Luanda Faculty of Medicine (1984/87). The theatre was used primarily as an instrument of popular mobilisation and awareness-raising (Tchinganje), it then moved to an expressive function (Xilenga and the Medicine group), until the current investigation of new languages (Elinga).
It was born as a single theatre project, aimed at rescuing and promoting Angolan culture at all levels, including a modern treatment of its traditional values, and at spreading a universal theatrical repertoire.

on the space / location
the Elinga Theatre in Luanda has always worked as an open, accessible space, one of the only spaces in Luanda dedicated to theatre. The building was built in the 19th century and was declared a historical monument by the Angolan Minister for Culture. However, in 2012 this status was rescinded in order to make way for the Elipark building project, which will comprise a car park, offices and a hotel.
The building hosts different functions, from theatre spaces to artist’s ateliers, to exhibition spaces, to club.

level of significance
Although his atelier is now lasting more than 20 years in the famous building of the Teatro Elinga, in the Baixa, one of the most successful cultural centers of Luanda,Antonio Ole, one of the most internationally recognized Angolan artist feels threatened. The pressure on the housing market and the lack of interest for art and culture is in fact exemplified by the continuous attempts of demolishing the Elinga. Just like other historical buildings, the theatre will probably disappera.
However, the threats to demolish the building have given rise to negative reactions on the networks that are creating some resistance movements aginst it.

June 17, 2014

E-studio Luanda


Name of the cultural space
E-studio Luanda

on the group
E.studio is the name of the project of a group of artists – Francisco Vidal, Nelo Teixeira and RitaGT – linked to the atelier and the work of the artist Antonio Ole. It is based in Luanda where the artists live and work.

on the space / location
different locations in Luanda. The base is the atelier of Antonio Ola at the Elinga Theatre.

level of significance
The e.studio aims to be an innovative and ambitious project for the development and internationalization of production Angolan Contemporary Art. The proposed e.studio for its first year of existence, with the theme Luanda found footage, is to create and design a professional studio and visual arts with workshops on screen printing, wood and paint, where the collective will develop and share work techniques and concepts. We want to massively boost the production of Angolan culture and identity through our artwork.

June 17, 2014

Temporary spaces Trienal de Luanda


Name of the space
Temporary spaces Trienal de Luanda

on the concept
A precise strategy of the Triennial of Luanda was the occupation and recuperation of vacant spaces, in buildings that were considered patrimonio (“heritage”). But the State had to participate with minimal costs: for the first Triennial, for example, through the minister of telecommunications, some rooms of the post office were given to the Triennial under the deal of restoring the spaces and returning them to the official owner after the event.
The Triennial of Luanda looked for vacant spaces and found 3’000 squared metres: the Globo hotel, the Correios de Angola, Vivenda, the Armazen, the Baleizão. They were old buildings from different periods. After two years they were given back in a perfect state after restoring them.

on the spaces / location
All the spaces of the different editions of the Triennial were located in the city center and were freely accessible during the Triennial period.

level of significance
The idea was starting a process, a mechanism in order to create a space to be filled in. “When we live in chaos we become used to it, we know how to handle it and then when we find places under control it is easier for us” (Alvim, 2013). Similarly, Simon Njami argues that the spaces used by the Triennial were by no means chosen for any specific deep meaning connected to the place itself, but he highlights the effects that using institutional spaces like a bank or a post office have produced on the general public.
“The spaces used by the Triennial, after that event became part of everyday life again, but the important aspect is the effect they produced when people could enter the bank and find an exhibition. Even the most institutional and hard spaces could become something else, could be open to culture” (Njami 2012).
Moreover, the anonymous character given to those spaces is reinforced by their set up that follows the same rules: white and gray paint on the walls and floors in order to create a neutral box.


June 17, 2014

Fundação Sindika Dokolo


Name of the cultural space
Fundação Sindika Dokolo

on the institution
Sindika Dokolo – a wealthy Congolese art collector who is today married to the daughter of the President of Angola, Isabel dos Santos – allowed Fernando Alvim – artist and curator – to create a foundation (Fundação Sindika Dokolo) as a platform for producing the Trienal. Besides the partnership Alvim himself had invested 680’000.– USD as part of the funding for the first Triennial. Sindika Dokolo was also one of the financial supporters: through his collection he paid 50% of the expenses of the Triennial, while the rest of the budget was covered by sponsors.

on the space / location
Located in Fernando Alvim’s residence, the foundation works both as an office for the preparation of the Triennial and as a space for meetings and gathering of artists.

level of significance
The relation between the Foundation, the Triennial, which has got a strong international visibility and promotes Angolan art worldwide, and the rest of the Angolan art world aoften conflictual. Because of the direct link with the government (Sindika Dokolo’s ventures and his marriage to Isabel dos Santos) the strong power of the Fundação Sindika Dokolo and therefore of the Trienal de Luanda highlights a problem of transparency and hegemony in the art scene and processes of inclusion-exclusion of Angolan artists. Alvim’s partnership with the Sindika Dokolo Foundation problematized his claims of autonomy because it represent a powerful configuration. Because of these connections, Angolans, as well as the international art circles aften call into question the Triennial’s claims. On the other hand Sindika Dokolo, unlike other collectors who discuss about African beauty, claims that art should be used as a weapon (Jeune Afrique, November 2012). The exhibition presented by Njami together with Alvim and Sindika Dokolo at the Venice Biennale is a good example to explain the meaning of creating a mental, immaterial space as weapon.

June 17, 2014

Cinema Atlantico


Name of the landmark
Cinema Atlantico

on the landmark
The Cinema Atlantico (opened in 1966) is a outdoor theater, with a capacity for 1500 spectators and a concert hall located in the center of Luanda. It was designed by the architect Eduardo Paulino and the engineer Edgar Cardoso. Sculptors such as Antonio Vidigal, Miranda and Zink also worked on it. It is a covered amphitheater defined by a system of pillars that ascend above the roof and the struts supporting it. The roof is composed of metal hanging trusses. .

on the location / accessibility
Located close to Praça da Independencia. Accessible.

level of significance
Recently has been inactive for 2 years and was reopened in January 2004. It has since helped the Angolans to revive and get access to cinema shows and contribute to the cultural spaces in Angola.
The movie theater welcomes films, music shows, award galas and has partnerships with the Ministry of Culture, NGOs , churches, among others. The cinema, like others in Luanda that are threatened by demolitions, work as open cultural and multifunctional spaces for the local communities.

June 17, 2014

Santo Antonio Church


Name of the landmark
Santo Antonio Church

on the landmark
The Church of St. Anthony is in Cazenga district, Luanda and it has been properly remodeled to receive the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on his trip to Africa (2009). New paint, well maintained gardens, everything clean and bright, inside and fora.
The church has a high wall that separates it from the street. A gate and a large patio, it is quiet, spacious, organized outdoors, shade trees. Here some cement benches, a leafy tree, a blackboard nailed to the wall create a space where youngsters organize to others youth classes in mathematics, chemistry and physics. Voluntary study groups and other activities’ groups are organized spontaneously.

on the location / accessibility
highly accessible

level of significance
The Santo Antonio church in Cazenga runs educational programs for kids and women, the enclosed space around the church works as a safe place for daily common activities and recreational ones. Cinemas, churches, municipalities of the Bairros, sport fields, marketplaces are potentially areas that can be seen as important centers for the community.

June 17, 2014

Marginal de Luanda – Boulevard along the bay of Luanda


Name of the landmark
Marginal de Luanda – Boulevard along the bay of Luanda

on the landmark
According to recent data, the new marginal Luanda receives daily 2,500 people on average, using the space for leisure activities, a number that rises to the double in the weekends.
The Portuguese consortium Mota Engil / Soares da Costa led the redevelopment of the Marginal of Luanda – project cost 300 million euros – which was made ​​by the Angolan private bank, led by the Bank Atlantic and includes 147,000 m2 of pedestrian spaces, three parks infant eight spaces for the practice of various sports, five areas for cultural initiatives and 10 new stations along the promenade.

on the location / accessibility
Highly accessible and used. Low level of control, high maintenance.

level of significance
Another strong example that works as an efficient device against crime in the center is given by the renewed Marginal de Luanda, the large public space along the bay. The perfect maintenance of the public facilities, the vegetation, the floor, clean and well kept, with few security guards along it, some of which are not even armed, seem to work as a deterrent against crime and squatting.
The Marginal works also informally as an open space for cultural activities: “There are places like the beach or the Marginal that already host cultural and recreational activities. Once they brought me to a cultural center in Brazil, and when I arrived I discovered it was a school of samba with some bars: I was expecting something else coming from France, my perception was deformed because where I come from there is another idea of cultural spaces.” (Njami 2012).

June 17, 2014

BPC tower – the Savings and Credit Bank building


Name of landmark
BPC tower – the Savings and Credit Bank building

on the landmark
The Head Office of the Savings Bank and Credit (BPC) located in Largo Major Saydi Mingas, Marginal of Luanda, was opened in 1967 designed by architect Gennaro Godinho ( project leader ) and by Professors Engineers Correia de Araújo and Campos Matos.
This architectural structure is considered one of the symbols of Angola and one of the most beautiful works of engineering in the country.
The building has a height of 90.27 m (23 floors) and a sign on top 5.90 m high. The building is composed of two parts: the first, the groud floor hosts the Board of Directors ( CAD ) and the cabinets to support the CAD . The second part is Unit Structure (BPC Directorates and Departments) There are also offices for renting and residential spaces.
The headquarters building due to internal open-space distribution of spaces allow multiple uses or purposes

on the location /accessibility
free access to the building’s outern spaces. restricted access to the inside.

level of significance
The restoration work of the headquarters building of the Savings and Credit Bank (BPC) are about to start.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of BPC say that “the building was already somewhat degraded, so there was a need for a restoration.”
The project will last 24 months and is budgeted at 7.7 billion kwanza. Chinese Construtora Jiangsu China will be responsible for the work, and also funded the project. Regarding the hypothesis demolition headquarters BPC responibles assume that this scenario “only in the latter case.”
The construction of “ Torres Kianda “ in front of the PBC tower includes the setting up of a whole block with an area 10 500 m² and a perimeter of 432.50. – and the BPC Bank building restoration. Again this restoration thretaens one of the symbols of Luanda’s cityscape.