For this reason and using this festival as a medium, we have decided to showcase the art of Africa today and its music, highlighting anything from great sacred rituals to successful DJs of a continent, which, since time immemorial, has been the victim of the predatory economics of the world’s major powers. Beyond the period of slavery maintained by the East and the West, beyond the constant plundering of its natural resources, Africa today has nevertheless succeeded in routinely reinventing itself.
Today there remains the legacy of this profound sense of observation, of this invigorating force of nature transposed into an urbanity, which, behind its apparent anarchy, is reinventing its own codes. Artist citizens, between collective memory and individuality, can today let their curiosity in a society run wild and flourish.
Many works bond body and soul. The body as a unique medium through which we appear to others becomes an element of artistic creation, a blank canvas on which artists transpose their humanity, a universal, planetary and universal humanity.
This is what contemporary African art expresses today, be it sculpture, painting, photography, drawing or collage…
Our event enjoys the exceptional curatorial collaboration of André Magnin, a leading figure in contemporary African art, who has kindly lent us these works, enabling us to hold this first exhibition. André has been assistant curator for various key exhibitions of non-Western arts, including “Les Magiciens de la Terre” at the Centre Georges Pompidou and at La Grande Halle de la Villette (1989) or “Beauté Congo” at the Fondation Cartier in Paris (2015), “Evora Africa” will feature some of the key photographic and pictorial works of Africa today.
One of a kind and a first in Portugal, this festival thus aims to preserve and promote African heritage by comparing it to the contemporary world.
To intertwine a blossoming art with the roots of musical tradition, returning to the origin of the ritual body, of the mask, of poetry, of cosmogonic dance, but also of current music, of Portuguese derivation or not – this will be our approach over more than eight weeks.
Concerts, performances from storytellers, griots, ritual dances, conferences, folk dances and DJs will reflect a baroque, multicoloured, understated or extravagant African beauty, a beauty that will be at the heart of the artistic future of our planet and which during this festival will flourish in our family Palace, it too the result of a long history since the end of the 14th century, dating back to its creation by our ancestor Martim Afonso de Melo.
This Palace, built on the ruins of a Moorish castle, and its church, led to the creation of an original blend of styles, including Mudejar, Gothic and Manueline, mirroring the history of the city of Évora, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seamlessly integrated into the historic quarter of Évora, the Cadaval Palace stands right next to the stunning ruins of the Roman Temple.
The Palace’s beautiful church was built in the 15th century by Dom Rodrigo de Melo, former governor of Tangier and, by strange coincidence, nicknamed “the African”. It boasts beautiful azulejo tiling, dating from the early 18th century.
Thanks to my mother Claudine de Cadaval, my sister Diana and myself, this Palace has been a venue, for a great number of years, for cultural events, including exhibitions and musical festivals, highlighting the great traditions of the world, reflecting a constantly changing world through the intersection of civilisations, maritime conquests and terrestrial explorations.
It is my passion for Africa, somehow also a home to my heart, and where I have lived and worked for several years, that has led me to dream up this festival, as a proper tribute to traditional and contemporary Africa.
Having also spent more than ten years with Alain Weber at my side, discovering the musical traditions of the world, creating the World Sacred Spirit Festival in India with him, as well as our former festival here in Évora, dedicated to the cultures of the East, I thought that I could share my passion for Africa with an international audience through this new event.
Without André Magnin and Philippe Boutté, who do us the great honour of joining us on this adventure, we could never have undertaken this project. André’s passion and knowledge of the world of contemporary African art will provide the cornerstone for this event, allowing us to present a unique collection for the first time in Portugal.
This event is therefore built on passion, above all else, and on the confluence of a common desire to showcase the beauty of this continent.
– Évora, January 2018