Africa 1:1 Lab Residency, March-May 2023. From left to right: Guy Tiroche, Option Nyahunzvi, Serge Tiroche, Alexandre Kyungu, Boniface Maina, Giulia Spriano,
Pamela Enyonu and Ngugi Waweru
In 2017, START initiated the Africa First Residency program, a by-invitation residency focused on Contemporary African artists selected by Serge Tiroche from all over sub-Saharan Africa and the Diaspora.
Residency costs are fully covered by Africa First and include flights, accommodation, studio space, working materials, on-the-ground assistance with logistics and research, as well as a per diem. Resident artists are encouraged to explore and extend their practice - producing works inspired by their research and experiences. They are brought into contact with local art scenes through introductions to local artists, gallery and museum visits as well as 'open studio' days where curators, collectors, gallerists, and journalists are invited.
Occasionally, exhibitions are organized at the end of residencies in various venues. Most residencies are held in Israel but have recently expanded to additional locations such as Cape Town and Venice.
While initially focused in Israel, some of the recent residencies have been linked to new collaborations and prizes awarded by Africa First on the international stage:
In 2018, Nirit Takele spent 2 months in Addis Ababa in a residency initiated and funded by Africa First, in collaboration with Addis Fine Art. The works were then exhibited with the gallery in London in October 2018, cementing the artist's representation by Ethiopia's leading gallery.
Mongezi Ncaphayi won the Africa First residency prize at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair in 2019. The residency took place in Israel with the works exhibited at the Cape Town art fair in February 2020.
- Simphiwe Mbunyuza's recent 3-month residency in Israel took place in collaboration with Gordon gallery, the Gallery for African studies, the Bezalel academy in Jerusalem, and the Shenkar school in Ramat-Gan. 2 exhibitions of his work were held in Tel-Aviv.
Franklyn Dzingai and Wilfred Timire won the Africa First Art Harare residency award in 2022, with residencies taking place in Cape Town and Accra respectively. Their 2-person exhibition is set to take place in Cape Town in Feb 2023, in collaboration with Gallery 1957 and the Cape Town Art Residency.
5 African artists will enjoy a fully paid residency in Venice in Spring 2023, culminating with an exhibition at Ca' Pesaro, Venice's only municipal Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, in tandem with the festivities of the Architecture Biennale. The residency is in collaboration with AKKA Projects whose Venice gallery will be converted into studio spaces for the duration, to be enjoyed by Pamela Enyonu, Boniface Maina, Alexandre Kyungu Mwilambwe, Option Dzikamai Nyahunzvi, and Ngugi Waweru