Simon Njami (b. 1962 Lausanne, Switzerland, lives in Paris) is a writer and an independent curator, lecturer, art critic and essayist. He was visiting professor at UCSD (University of San Diego California). He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the cultural magazine Revue Noire. Previously, Njami was the artistic director of the Bamako photography biennial 2000-10; co-curator of the first African pavilions at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007; and artistic director of the Luanda and Douala triennials and the Lubumbashi Biennale. He has curated numerous exhibitions, including “A Collective Diary” (2010), “A Useful Dream” (2010), and the Johannesburg Art Fair (2008).
Njami is author of biographies of James Baldwin (1991) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (2007), and has contributed essays for the catalogs for the Sydney Biennale, Documenta and others. Most recently he has curated “WIR SIND ALLE BERLINER: 1884-2014”, an exhibition that offers a critical knowledge sharing platform on the Berlin Conference, on past and current socio-political and economic phenomena in a Europe of flourishing nationalism and racism, as it deals with issues like migration flow or border and identity politics at Savvy Contemporary. His new exhibition «The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists» was previously shown at MMK (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main) and at The SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah, USA) in 2014 and is currently on show at The Smithsonian Museum of African Art (Washington DC, USA). Njami is currently the advisor of AtWork, an itinerant artistic educational format he conceived together with Lettera27 Foundation, in partnership with Moleskine. He is also directing the Pan African Master Classes in Photography, project that he conceived with the Goethe Institut, and setting up the collection of contemporary art for the future Memorial Acte Museum in Guadeloupe.
Photo © David Damoison
Simon Njami on ‘Xenopolis’ and Berlin as a ‘Free Zone’