The Urban Cult Lab’Africa has brought six fab labs – digital fabrication laboratories – in West Africa together to co-design cultural events including artists’ residencies, live events and exhibitions.
African urbanization brings together different cultures, languages, traditions and heritage. Urban Cult Lab’ Africa contributes to making this diversity an opportunity to avoid sources of tension and conflicts, and rather develop an alloy of skills and talents to develop solutions to urbanization questions.
Associating six fablabs - BloLab (Benin), OuagaLab (Burkina Faso), BabyLab (Ivory Coast), Donilab (Mali), Sahel FabLab (Mauritania) and Woelab (Togo) - the project is fuelled by strong regional collaborations across the fab labs in the area of digital innovation for education; makers and artists; and goods and services. Urban Cult Lab’Africa promotes social inclusion, encouraging the re-appropriation of urban spaces to make their creative programme visible to the broadest audiences possible.
Responding to Covid-19: "Mon pagne/mon masque"
The international health crisis led the project partners to identify actions that could usefully contribute to the response to the epidemic in the different countries involved. The project partners are responding to the crisis by establishing a Young Healthcare Volunteers corps, a team of volunteers stemming from the Amnesty International Bénin (AI Bénin) network of school clubs in 40 colleges and high schools in the country. They will work in cooperation with the focal points of the Health Committees for reinforcing healthcare awareness and self-protection capacity of the communities through education and sensibilisation actions.
The fablabs participate in the implementation of the project by creating protection masks and face shields via 3-D printing techniques, with a double function: protection and communication on the actions to take against the virus as well promoting an aesthetic and innovation reflection on the concepts of original locally produced masks.
The laboratory Music Lab'Africa is a digital inclusion project focusing on the music industry in all partner countries. The project aims to make African musical richness accessible to a population generally detached from cultural offer, by:
- constructing a digital base of traditional African rhythms (across all Urban Cult Lab’Africa partner countries);
- contributing to contemporary musical creation by organising a residency for African and European artists;
- organising computer-assisted music and mapping / VJ-ing workshops with young audiences;
- focusing on enhaned participation of female artists and emerging talents in proposed activities;
- wide dissemination through cultural events and digital uses.
The laboratory Mémoire Lab'Africa will allow the creation of a fresco on the memory of slavery in the Gulf of Guinea in all partner countries of Urban Cult Lab’Africa:
- Digital, audio and video recording of testimonies from historians to understand the history of slavery the Gulf of Guinea;
- The contribution of university research to understanding historical factsfor the methodological approach;
- Processing of information collected for the creation of a dedicated digital platform;
- The design of a mediation tool from a digital fresco established in partnership with historians and international experts.
Urban Cult Lab'Africa as European Space of Culture
The selection committee saw potential in the project as model for socio-cultural collaborative innovation that are relevant to a local and global context. To utilise and mobilise a strong West African network through Fablabs - which is interdisciplinary by nature - together with other local stakeholders was seen as one of the winning strengths of the project.
The committee found significant potential in creating successful cross-border collaborations, ideas and models in the region, especially by using currently marginalized spaces. Focus is not only through art but also potentially through traditional and local tech and science. It strongly addresses a relevant need as well as having potential appeal and outreach to youth and students, not just artists/entrepreneurs or cultural producers.