The Thami Mnyele Foundation promotes the exchange of art and culture between the Netherlands and Africa. The Thami Mnyele Foundation was set up in the time when South Africa was still controlled by the apartheid regime. The Foundation is named in commemoration of the South African artist Thami Mnyele, who had to flee from his country after the Soweto Rising in 1976. Nine years later, a South African death squad murdered him in Botswana.
In recent years, many African artists have stayed in Amsterdam at the invitation of the Thami Mnyele Foundation. The Foundation has also initiated and shared in exhibitions such as Southern Cross (Amsterdam Municipal Museum, 1994) and Allina Ndbele, The thread of the story (Museum de Stadshof, Zwolle, 1998).
The Thami Mnyele Guest studio for African artists
Since 1992 the Thami Mnyele Foundation has had a studio with working space for artists in Amsterdam. Every year a number of African artists are selected or invited by the Foundation to come here and work for a while. The aim is to bring about a cultural exchange, so the Foundation looks at a wide spectrum of arts, including visual and applied arts, architecture, film and video. The Foundation gives the artists an opportunity to become acquainted with the European culture and to exhibit their works of art in cultural institutions. The artists receive a grant for living expenses and a budget for materials. In order to promote this cultural exchange, the Thami Mnyele Foundation organizes meetings and exhibitions.
Krishna Lochoom from St. Moritz for example, who lived and worked in the Tami Mnyele studio in 2000, exhibited in the Amsterdam hotel Winston. Before he came to Amsterdam, he indicated to be impressed by de Dutch painter van Gogh. Inspired by his residence in Holland, he made an installation that consisted of a tent and a huge burned three, made out of sheets of the yellow pages, paintings with sunflowers, and a floor full of curry and old shoes. According to Yvonne Droge Wendel from the Tami Mnyele, it looked like a combination of van Gogh and a tropical African bush.
Saliou Traoré and Alassane Drabo from Burkina Faso stayed in Amsterdam in 2001 on the invitation of the Tami Mnyele. Both artists were surprised to see that there are no public toilets for women in Amsterdam. Women are forced to use paid toilets or have to look for a bar or restaurant where they are obliged to buy a drink. This theme was the starting point for the wall-decoration of two rooms in Hotel Winston. They mixed the Dutch icons for 'men's toilet' and 'women's toilet' with symbols that appear throughout West Africa. The Dutch icon for the ladies toilet was used for the men's toilet. The lady in wide dress looks like a men in a bou-bou, according to Alassane and Saliou. They reshaped the Dutch symbol for a woman to a lady with a narrow waist, which is distinctly feminine for Africans.
The Thami Mnyele Scholarship covers the following:
- travelling expenses to the Netherlands
- a studio and housing in Amsterdam during a period of three/four months
- an allowance for living expenses
- an allowance for the costs of materials
- assistance in arranging visa
- assistance in organising an exhibition
- mediation in getting an access to the Dutch art world.
On the Thami Mnyele website, you can find the conditions and an application form. The deadline for the next application will be around October 2002.
Thami Mnyele Foundation
P.O. Box 10768
1001 ET Amsterdam
Tel/fax: +31 (0)20 4211129/6256274