Heaven, Hell, Purgatory Revisited by Contemporary African Artists

The Divine Comedy

21 March – 27 July 2014

Die Göttliche Komödie
Aïda Muluneh, The 99 Series, 2013

© Aïda Muluneh

Bouabdellah Zoulikha, silence rouge, 2008

Courtesy of Nadour © Bouabdellah Zoulikha

Edson Chagas, TIPO PASS, Filipe D. Kuangana, 2012

Courtesy of the artist and A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia © Edson Chagas

Youssef Nabil, You Never Left # I, 2010

Courtesy of Nathalie Obadia Gallery, Paris/Brussels

Moataz Nasr, Dome, 2011

Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin, Foto: Ela Bialkowska

Ndary Lo, The Day After, 2012-13

© Ndary Lo

Yinka Shonibare, How To Blow Up Two Heads At Once (Gentlemen), 2006

Courtesy of Sindika Dokolo African Collection of Contemporary Art

Kiluanji Kia Henda, Othello´s Fate, 2013

Courtesy of Nuno de Lima Pimentel Collection, Filomena Soares Gallery, Lisbon, and Fonti Gallery, Naples

In "The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists", the MMK will serve as a stage for Dante’s Divine Commedy on 4,500 square metres of exhibition space. In this early fourteenth-century epic, which combines central notions of Christianity with religious concepts of antiquity, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) explores theological, philosophical and moral issues which have lost nothing of their social and political topicality to this day. His work forms the foundation for the exhibition developed by curator Simon Njami in cooperation with the MMK and to be presented subsequently at four further venues worldwide.

On three floors, one each devoted to heaven, hell and purgatory, works in a variety of media will be presented: paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos, installations and performances. A large number of the works will be conceived specifically for the MMK interior and premiered by the show. Taking their own widely differing cultural and religious backgrounds as a point of departure, the artists will examine individual thematic sequences of the Divine Comedy. In some cases the otherworldly realms will be visualized as godless places brought to life by the power of imagination; in other works they will be associated with ideas of divinity, hope or loss.

Against the background of the many Africa-related exhibitions of the past years, the MMK perceives the need to investigate the significance of African art not only in the post-colonial context but also with regard to aesthetics. The exhibition will accordingly not be limited to historical or political depictions; on the contrary, it will set its sights on poetry and art as expresive means of conveying and communicating the unspoken. The exhibition concept transports the universal issues of the Divine Comedy, an incunable of European literature, into the present and places them in a transnational contemporary context.  


Jane Alexander
(*1959 Johannesburg, South Africa), Fernando Alvim (*1963 Luanda, Angola), Ghada Amer (*1963 Cairo, Egypt), Joël Andrianomearisoa (*1977 Antananarivo, Madagascar), Kader Attia (*1970 Dugny/Seine-Saint-Denis, France), Sammy Baloji (*1978 Lubumbashi, Congo), Berry Bickle (*1959 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe), Bili Bidjocka (*1962 Douala, Cameroon), Wim Botha (*1974 Pretoria, South Africa), Zoulikha Bouabdellah (*1977 Moscow, Russia), Mohamed Bourouissa (*1978 Blida, Algeria), Nabil Boutros (*1954 Cairo, Egypt), Edson Chagas (*1977 Luanda, Angola), Loulou Cherinet (*1970 Gothenburg, Schweden), Lawrence Chikwa (Lusaka, Zambia), Kudzanai Chiurai (*1981 Harare, Zimbabwe), Dimitri Fagbohoun (*1972 Cotonou, Benin), Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny (*1971 Ivory Coast), Jellel Gasteli (*1958 Tunis, Tunisia), Pélagie Gbaguidi (*1965 Dakar, Senegal), Kendell Geers (*1968 Johannesburg, South Africa), Frances Goodman (*1975 Johannesburg, South Africa), Nicholas Hlobo (*1975  Cape Town, South Africa), Mouna Karray (*1970 Sfax, Tunisia), Amal Kenawy (1974 - 2012 Cairo, Egypt), Majida Khattari (*1966 Erfoud, Morocco), Kiluanji Kia Henda (*1979 Luanda, Angola), Jems Koko Bi (*1966 Sifra, Ivory Coast), Abdoulaye Konaté (*1953 Diré, Mali), Nicène Kossentini (*1976 Sfax, Tunisia), Ndary Lo (*1961 Tivaouane, Senegal), Ato Malinda (*1981 Nairobi, Kenya), Pascale Marthine Tayou (*1967 Yaoundé, Cameroon), Julie Mehretu (*1970 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Myriam Mihindou (*1964 Libreville, Gabon), Nandipha Mntambo (*1982 Swasiland), Aïda Muluneh (*1974 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Hassan Musa (*1951 El-Nuhud, Sudan), Wangechi Mutu (*1972 Nairobi, Kenya), Mwangi Hutter (*1975 Nairobi, Kenya and *1975 Ludwigshafen, Germany), Youssef Nabil (*1972 Cairo, Egypt), Lamia Naji (*1966 Casablanca, Marocco), Moataz Nasr (*1961 Cairo, Egypt), Cheikh Niass (*1966 Dakar, Senegal), Maurice Pefura (*1967 Paris, France), Zineb Sedira (*1963 Paris, France), Yinka Shonibare MBE (*1962 London, England), Guy Tillim (*1962 Johannesburg, South Africa), Andrew Tshabangu (*1966 Johannesburg, South Africa), Minnette Vári (*1968 Pretoria, South Africa), Dominique Zinkpè (*1969 Cotonou, Benin)

By train to MMK:
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Today at the MMK

  • Guided tour
  • Fotografien aus der Sammlung
  • 11:00 am
  • Guided tour
  • Alighiero Boetti: Ordnung – Unordnung
  • 06:30 pm

Guided tours



Catalogue The Divine Comedy
  • Catalogue The Divine Comedy


MMK Collection – Informations Sheets