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"South meets West" in Berne

An exhibition of contemporary African art has arrived in Berne from Ghana, where it drew large and enthusiastic crowds. Entitled "South meets West" it has involved much more than bringing art to Europe.

An exhibition of contemporary African art has arrived in Berne from Ghana, where it drew large and enthusiastic crowds. Entitled "South meets West" it has involved much more than bringing art to Europe.

All the exhibits are works by artists from two very different regions of Africa - the South and West. The idea of linking the two and first staging the exhibition in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, came from Niggi Popp of Nawao Production, a Zurich-based organisation which promotes cultural exchange projects in Africa.

"While working on this project," says Popp, "we realised that many of the most interesting artists were from west and southern Africa."

"The cultural isolation of South Africa for many decades during apartheid is one reason for the lack of familiarity of the South with West Africa, and the opposite is also true. We wanted to invite the artists from southern Africa to meet their west African colleagues," Popp added.

The result is an exhibition of paintings, photographs, sculptures and art videos as varied as the backgrounds of the artists who produced them, and one which is likely to arouse a great deal of enthusiasm from people who see it in Switzerland.

Popp says it was agreed that Accra should be the first venue because of its lack of facilities: "Unlike in French-speaking west Africa, innovative artists there get little promotion and have few opportunities for exhibiting."

"We felt it important to offer them a platform, to confront both artists and the public with disturbing works, and therefore to give a new creative impulse."

The exhibition, at the neighbouring Museum of Contemporary Art and History Museum in Berne, ends on June 25.

By Richard Dawson

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