Artivist Exchange Program

Project Summary:
The New Orleans-Nairobi ‘Artivist’ exchange is a 2 week exchange program designed for activists using art and creative cultural production as their primary mediums as tools for social justice. The purpose of the exchange is for ‘artivists’ to explore how two cities, New Orleans and Nairobi, have negotiated Blackness and made use of art based resistance through a week of cultural immersion, exploration and education and another week consisting of the creation of a public art project(s) to inspire sustained dialogue and collaboration between creatives and activists in both host cities.


The fist leg of this exchange which sees 2 visual artists from Nairobi to New Orleans is generously funded by the Platforms Foundation

EXPANDED SUMMARY: The New Orleans-Nairobi ‘Artivist’ Exchange is an art based activism and pan African education project that consists of multiple components and takes place over the course of two different two-week phases in the host cities of New Orleans and Nairobi. The first phase takes place in New Orleans and pairs two incoming visual artists from Nairobi with two from New Orleans for an exchange rooted in exploring of the diasporic city’s history of defiance, resilience and creativity in its Black/African communities. Artists are matched based on their chosen medium(s) of expression and quality and content of their work. As well, they are chosen for having demonstrated an ongoing commitment to community activism, using the exploration of Blackness and Black culture as a tool of resistance in their art, and to the politicization of Blackness across the diaspora. The purpose and central idea surrounding the creation and execution of this project is exploring the notion that Blackness is borderless and constantly telling tales of resistance across the world, and that art, being a near universal language, is one of the best mediums for facilitating the telling of this story. As well, it is rooted in the belief that its narrators, Black artists who intentionally center their communities and Blackness in their work, and the stories they share to connect others benefit from the added experience of travel. Some of the questions this project seeks to explore are:

• How is this narrative of resistance told similarly across borders?

• What parts of the story have been lost in translation or unexplored due to geographic difference and distance?

• How can storytellers across the diaspora use cultural exchange and immersion to fill in the gaps of the global story of Blackness?

While in New Orleans, visiting artists will take part in a one-week cultural immersion intensive and a one-week creation period culminating in a public art project or the unveiling of an outcome of the exchange in a public forum. During the first week of the exchange, Noirlinians and the local artists will design an immersive exploration of New Orleans’ Black & African culture for visiting artists. The exploration will be composed of connecting with arts and activist communities as well as curated cultural experiences that will help familiarize visiting artists with New Orleans historical and contemporary relationship to resistance and the African continent. Stay tuned for week one public schedule.

The second week of the program will be designed primarily by the hosting and visiting artists in order to facilitate the creation of a collaborative art project. During the second week, the hosting and visiting artists will continue to familiarize themselves with the inspirations, motivations and focus/style of each other’s past and current work. This co-learning will inform their collaborative projects. At the end of the second creation week, both pairs of artists will unveil their collaborative projects created at the intersection of their exchange experiences. The culminating event will be open to the general public and primarily organized by Noirlinians and local partners to explore the topic of diasporic identity, resistance and art through the eyes of the artists after the exchange.