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October 20, 2021

Af-Flux: Interview with two groundbreaking Montreal artists

Kama La Mackerel. Photo Vanessa Fortin

Af-Flux : biennale transnationale noire aims to honour the diversity of Black identities and to shed light on the issues affecting Afrodescendant artists by means of their cultures and creations. In line with the Museum’s mission of inclusion and fuelled by a desire to celebrate artistic expressions from all cultural communities, the MMFA will present a series of performances and lectures on October 29 and 30, and November 6 and 7 given by Zab Maboungou and Kama La Mackerel. Iris Amizlev, the curator responsible for the presentation of these events at the MMFA, sat down for a conversation with the two artists.

Iris Amizlev. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Iris Amizlev

Curator – Community Engagement and Projects

Map out all your abstractions while I move into the world.

Born in France and raised in the Republic of the Congo, Zab Maboungou is a Montreal-based pioneer of dance in Canada with an impressive list of distinctions, including being named Companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec as well as winning the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and the Award for Cultural Diversity in Dance presented by the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Maboungou’s immersion in traditional dance and music as well as in the new urban culture of post-independence during her childhood in Congo (Brazzaville) was formative in what would become a lifelong commitment to dance training and dance creation. As founder and Artistic Director of the dance company Nyata Nyata (meaning stomp your feet in Lingala, the Bantu-based language spoken in the two Congos), her performances and teachings have made known the vitality, contemporaneity and musicality of what has been broadly termed “African dance.” Throughout her over three-decades-long career – that extends to philosophy, writing and poetry – Maboungou has made an outstanding international contribution to the understanding, appreciation and development of contemporary dance.


Kama La Mackerel (they/them) is an award-winning Mauritian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist, educator, writer, curator and literary translator who lives in Montreal. Winner of the 2020 Canada Council for the Arts’ Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Visual Arts, they also received accolades for their debut poetry collection, ZOM-FAM (meaning “man-woman,” or transgender, in Mauritian Creole), including being named a CBC Best Book of Poetry and a Globe and Mail Best Debut, and shortlisted for the QWF’s Concordia University First Book Prize and the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers. Trained in contemporary dance and physical theatre, La Mackerel holds a bachelor of arts in Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Pune, India, and a master of arts in Theory, Culture and Politics from Trent University, Canada. Their artistic practice, both personal and political, spans a broad range of disciplines to probe spiritual and ancestral forces in their pursuit of in-between spaces and expressions, as well as hybrid states of being.


About Af-Flux

Af-Flux is a new biennial produced by Art Mûr gallery. Running from September 11 to December 11, 2021, its premiere edition, titled Bossalle World, is curated by Eddy Firmin. Originally from the French Caribbean (Guadeloupe), this artist-researcher now lives and works in Montreal and Halifax. In his works, he questions the transcultural logics of his identity and the balance of forces at play in it. Aimed at highlighting the work of Canadian and international artists of African descent, the biennial comprises a rich program of exhibitions, performances and events held at various venues in Montreal and Quebec City.

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