“Bikoka Art Project is located in the quiet and green area of Bikoka on a vast site that will evolve into an art centre, enabling to expand its activities to include an artists, curators and art writers residency, an exhibition space, art library, and a sculpture garden.”Christine Eyene – Cameroonian curator and art historian (https://www.eyonart.com/bap)
The wall space above a curved, wood-panelled banquette of seats, positioned around an alcove near the entrance to Somerset House’s west wing was the display area assigned to the Bikoka Art Project for the duration of 1-54 London (Contemporary African Art Fair), 13-16 October 2022.
A small selection of eye-catching images of the rural Lolodorf landscape and scenes of everyday village life in Bikoka, taken by Cameroonian photographer Yvon Ngassam (b. 1982, Bangangte), prompted many visitors – myself included – to pause for a long time in this busy, recessed seating area to view the photography, read the project’s panel description and reflect on the social, cultural, educational and geographical context to this engaging series of lens-based visual narratives.
Conceptualised and advanced as a collaborative art project by internationally renowned curator and art historian Christine Eyene, working in partnership with community members from Bikoka and other creative contributors from beyond the Lolodorf city region, the project’s core purpose was described as:
“[creating] cultural projects with a positive impact on society in a context where educational and professional opportunities are limited.”Christine Eyene – BAP wall-panel description at 1-54 London
In collaboration with photographer and film-maker Yvon Ngassam as the inaugural artist-in-residence since 2021, the Bikoka Art Project (BAP) is now progressing towards its next key milestone – the opening of its programme of residencies for local and visiting artists, curators and art writers in Spring 2023.
An international project platform via 1-54
Over the past decade, 1-54 London has provided a prominent platform and launch venue for artists, curators, gallerists and other cultural producers from continental Africa and the African Diaspora to showcase artistic projects and new collaborations that align with broader research-related, pedagogic, socially conscious and environmental commitments and concerns. So, the art fair’s tenth anniversary edition in the capital during October 2022 was an appropriate setting for raising awareness, promoting and securing tangible support for this important arts initiative.
A primary objective over the ensuing year is to construct a purpose-built community art centre with associated residency programmes, research resources and workshops for emerging local artists, established arts practitioners, curators, writers and other visiting creatives, funded and sustained via art sales, grant awards, partnerships and philanthropy. Christine Eyene’s familial ties and heritage links to Bikoka are very strong motivations for making this project a success, firmly focussed on creating more contemporary art opportunities and openings for aspiring young creatives and local women artists from Lolodorf.
For further details about the Bikoka Art Project, and ways to support its future work, please visit https://www.eyonart.com/bap.
The online gallery of images from Yvon Ngassam’s ongoing series “Portrait of a Community – Features of a Land” (2021-), curated by Christine Eyene, can be viewed at https://www.eyonart.com/portrait-of-a-community-gallery.
Christine Eyene’s website (Eyeonart) and Bikoka project page – https://www.eyonart.com/bap
Yvon Ngassam’s BAP photography (limited edition prints) –https://www.eyonart.com/limited-editions
Carol Ann Dixon’s art review – 1-54 London, 2022: Celebrating 10 Years of the Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House (https://museumgeographies.com)
Yaounde Photo Network (YPN) featuring Yvon Ngassam’s ongoing series “Portrait of a Community – Features of a Land” – https://yaoundephoto.net/