FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CAIRO’S CONTEMPORARY IMAGE COLLECTIVE PRESENTS NSENGA KNIGHT’S “X SPEAKS: AN APPEAL TO AFRICAN HEADS OF STATE,” A NEW ITERATION OF KNIGHT’S SOCIAL PRACTICE AND PERFORMANCE-BASED WORK DEDICATED TO MALCOLM X’S FINAL SPEECHES
CAIRO, EGYPT – February 21, 2022 – The Contemporary Image Collective presents X Speaks: An Appeal to African Heads of State, a new iteration of Nsenga Knight’s “X Speaks: Nsenga Knight & X Collaborators” performance-based social practice series on Sunday, 27 February 2022, 7pm EET. Nsenga Knight (b. 1981, Brooklyn, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Cairo, Egypt and New York, who creates paintings, drawings, prints, and collaborative social practice projects that reference Islamic ritual and cosmology, Black history archives, and personal memoirs. In X Speaks: An Appeal to African Heads of State, Nsenga Knight (X) delivers a performance reading of the letter Malcolm X (Malik el-Shabazz) presented at the 2nd African Summit that took place in Cairo from 17 to 21 July 1964, with simultaneous interpretation into Arabic by Samah Gafar and a multimedia presentation of archival materials related to Malcolm X’s time in Cairo. Drawing on research and experimentation within abstract, documentary and conceptual art traditions, Knight invites her audiences to challenge traditional boundaries of race, nationhood, and religion in order to create wholly new constructions that broaden our collective imaginations.
X Speaks: An Appeal to African Heads of State is presented in conjunction with The Light of Distant Stars – On Cairo and Pan Africanism, a library of research materials, gatherings and live events that is currently taking place at the Contemporary Image Collective. The performative reading is followed by a Q&A session with the audience that simulates an interview Malcolm X gave to Milton Henry, president of the Afro-American Broadcasting and Recording Company in Detroit, shortly after the summit while both were in Cairo. “ As a Black and Muslim artist living in Cairo, creating X Speaks here is a full circle moment for me. With my X Speaks project in Cairo’s CIC, I want people to connect with Malcolm X’s legacy, the Black struggle for liberation, and see this history as their own. I want Cairenes to get a feel for why Malcolm X and so many Black American people like me have connected so deeply to Egypt for generations.” Along with Nsenga Knight, the audience collaborates by speaking back with questions from the archive, sharing feedback and raising visual signage throughout the performance in both English and Arabic. Andrea Thal, CIC Director states, “The X Speaks performance collapses time and brings life to the archive. It is really inspiring.”
In 1964, Malcolm X represented the African-American liberation struggle as the only non-African permitted to observe and participate in the second conference held by the newly founded Organization of African Unity which was attended by thirty three Heads of recently liberated African States. An Appeal to African Heads of State was submitted to all of the African Heads of state. Between 1959 and 1964, Malcolm X traveled to several African and Gulf states, amongst them Sudan, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In between his 1964 travels, Malcolm X started the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which fought for the rights of African Americans and sought to connect Africans and people of African descent living in the States. «X Speaks: An Appeal to African Heads of State» is part of Nsenga Knight’s performance based social practice project «X Speaks: Nsenga Knight and X Collaborators» which is dedicated to the final speeches held by Malcolm X in the time before his assassination in February 1965.
About Nsenga Knight:
Nsenga Knight’s paintings, drawings, prints, and collaborative social practice projects reference Islamic ritual and cosmology, Black history archives, and personal memoirs. Her creative process is grounded in research and experimentation within abstract, documentary and conceptual art traditions. Through the experience of looking at / participating in her artwork, Knight invites audiences to challenge traditional boundaries of race, nationhood, and religion and create wholly new constructions that broaden our collective imaginations.
Nsenga Knight was born in 1981 in Brooklyn, New York, and currently lives and works in Cairo, Egypt and New York, USA. She has exhibited widely amongst others in institutions such as the New Museum for Contemporary Art, New York, PS1 MoMA, New York, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston or the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, New York. Knight earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production at Howard University.
About the Contemporary Image Collective
The Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) is an independent non-profit art initiative founded in Cairo in 2004. CIC’s mission spans contemporary art and educational programming that responds to and develops artistic practice, engagement, and discourse.
About «The Light of Distant Stars – On Cairo and Pan Africanism»
Opening hours: every day 12 noon until 9pm, closed on Friday
«The Light of Distant Stars» is a library of research materials, gatherings and live events that are currently taking place at CIC. The project traces the presence of African liberation movements in Cairo in the 1950s and 1960s and tries to (re)connect to some of the ideas, debates and practices present at the time. «The Light of Distant Stars» contains a series of illustrated posters that show different aspects of the research in the form of timelines, diagrams and maps. Together with the books and other materials the posters form a meeting and working space for anyone interested in the formation of new cultural, social and political imaginaries in the region and on the African continent in the decades after independence. It allows visitors to trace the presence of the numerous African and leftist liberation movements in Cairo and the infrastructure built to foster these formal and informal alliances.