Europe's largest exhibition of African art opens today

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The Independent Online
THE LARGEST exhibition of contemporary African art held in Europe opens today, with the launch of the Africa Remix show at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Works by 75 artists from 23 countries across the continent will be on display in the exhibition, which organisers say will challenge common perceptions of the continent.

The curator, Simon Njami, said the show demonstrated the breath-taking diversity of African art and music, from Nigerian "junk art" and Egyptian video installations, to Algerian hip-hop and Malian harp music.

"There is no single idea of Africa and, therefore, there is no single idea of African art. This exhibition shows individual African artists have a great talent to share with the world," he said yesterday.

Africa Remix is the focus of a season of cultural events involving 42 museums, galleries, concert halls and cinemas.

Co-ordinated by the British Museum, the South Bank Centre and the Arts Council of England, the programme aims to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors in the coming year, to Britain's largest celebration of African art.

The season coincides with a political focus on Africa driven by the UK holding the G8 chair and EU presidency.

Works on display range in character from the fantastical to the documentary: A Congolese sculptor, Bodys Isek Kingelez, creates obsessively detailed images of utopian cities, while a photographer from South Africa, David, focuses on the contrast in the lives of the continent's rich and poor.

Other works on display include an eight-metre high "cloth of gold" fashioned from thousands of bottle tops by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, and the bizarre animal-headed figures of a South African sculptor, Jane Alexander. In an echo of the bloody recent history, the Mozambican sculptor Goncalo Mabunda welds guns into monumental sculptures. Other events in the festival will include a fashion show at the V&A, films at the National Film Theatre, street festivals in Carnaby Street and a concert at the Royal Festival Hall.