Laboratoire Déberlinisation – Art, Finance, and the Legacies of Colonialism in Contemporary African Art: An Interview with Mansour Ciss Kanakassy
Mansour Ciss Kanakassy (b. 1957) is a Berlin-based Senegalese artist whose practice addresses the legacy of colonialism in contemporary Africa, in particular as it is expressed in the financial systems of the former Francophone colonies of West Africa, where the currency, the CFA franc, historically tied to the French franc, is now pegged to the euro. The acronym CFA originally stood for Colonies Françaises d'Afrique – French Colonies of Africa – and now Communauté Financière Africaine – African Financial Community. In 2001, Ciss Kanakassy created the Laboratoire Déberlinisation (Déberlinisation Laboratory), a multifaceted project that traces contemporary African issues to the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, which divided Africa among the great powers of Europe. The project, which includes the creation and circulation of a pan-African currency, the AFRO, and an international travel document, the Global Pass, has been extensively exhibited throughout Africa and Europe, and in China. In this interview, we discuss the origins of the Laboratoire Déberlinisation and the role of the AFRO in understanding the financial entanglements of neocolonialism.
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