Institution Builder. Koyo Kouoh is an independent curator and internationally active cultural producer. The central thrust of her work may be described as redefining the contemporary African personality. Koyo Kouoh has broadened her curatorial activities by reflecting on the form of institutions in African emerging countries where cultural production has been the object of tensions between private initiatives and governmental conditions and where contexts, aesthetics and knowledge acquisition often do not measure up to Western paradigms.
In this context, Koyo Kouoh has played an important role by contributing to a new understanding of the potential of artistic organisations. One of her instruments is the RAW Material Company, a centre for art, knowledge and society she founded in Dakar in 2008. With its fundamentally interdisciplinary focus it contributes to the growth and recognition of artistic and intellectual work in Africa and beyond. In her practise as an independent curator, Koyo Kouoh addresses primarily gender issues and a feminist point of view. This focus is reflected notably in exhibitions like “Body Talk”, which was shown in Belgium, France and Sweden in 2015–16 and featured work by six women artists from Africa on subjects such as the body, feminism and sexuality.
At the same time, Koyo Kouoh is internationally active as a consultant and jury member. She was responsible for “Ataraxia”, the Salon suisse at the 2017 Venice Biennale; in eight back-to-back editions she served as curator of the art and training programme of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London and New York; and she was a member of the curatorial teams of documenta 12 and 13. She has authored numerous publications, including the forthcoming “RAW Académie: A Matter of Knowledge” (2020), “Word! Word? Word! Issa Samb and The Undecipherable Form” (2013) and “Condition: Symposium Report on Building Art Institutions in Africa” (2012). Since 2019, she is serving as Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town. Kouoh grew up in Switzerland and in the 1990s moved to Dakar, Senegal, where she founded Raw Material Company.