Revue Noire

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Nov 22 16:18:05 UTC 2008

under: art <>, chimurenga
ABRAXAS @ 2:45 am

Paris, France
1991 - 2001

[image: 9_large.jpg]

Inspired by the growing, vibrant global community of pan African artists and
propelled by the need to challenge reductive exotic and ethnographic
approaches to African culture, Jean Loup Pivin and Simon Njami launched
Revue Noire in 1991. Conceived as a printed manifestation of the arts at the
time, it covered anything from art, architecture and photography, to cinema,
literature, theatre, fashion, African cities, AIDS and even gastronomy.
Design played a key role in forwarding its objectives. Revue Noire was
glossy, fashion savvy and distinctly Parisian.Striking images were combined
with largely informative texts that highlighted artistic responses to the
international media and the touristic gaze; the production of discourses of
cultural identity on the continent; the framing the African body; urban
sites; and rapidly changing dynamic between African aesthetic values and
Western influences.

As Simon Njami explained, "Dealing with Africa and all the preconceived
ideas people have of the continent, we wanted from the very beginning to use
the best paper, the best layout, full colour, and at a size that would do
justice to the artists that we were introducing. We had to face a double
challenge: at the time we started, contemporary African art barely existed.
So we were introducing something to an audience that was not aware of what
was going on. Therefore, we had to emphasize not only the contents but also
the physical look of the magazine."

>>From the beginning Revue Noire was aimed at the widest possible audience:
"Art lovers," "Africa lovers," "general readers interested in other
cultures" as well as "specialists." Distributed internationally, it was
bilingual (English/French), sometimes even trilingual. This language policy
and its focus on specific regions - from Abidjan to London, Kinshasa to
Paris - not only facilitated access to information on African artistic
production but also forged new links between artist based on the continent
and those working in the diaspora.

After 34 issues Revue Noire interrupted the printing of the journal in 2001
and refocused its attention on publishing books, curating exhibitions and
posting occasional online content.

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