Intensive Courses is a program of events dedicated exclusively to Manthia Diawara, the Malian writer and member of the African diaspora. Intensive Courses looks at contemporary African culture by facilitating a more in-depth knowledge of Diawara’s work and thinking, creating a kind of “study room” where visitors can home in on their interests by watching and looking through material drawn from Diawara’s films and books, along with other essays relating to the author.
Manthia Diawara is not a complete unknown in Portugal. In 2003 he was invited by Professor Manuela Ribeiro Sanches to give a first talk at the University of Lisbon, and he has presented some of his films in Porto. A few years later, in 2007, as part of the Portuguese delegation for the 52nd Venice Biennale, he collaborated with the artist Ângela Ferreira and the curator Jürgen Bock to produce the film Maison Tropicale, an integral part of the project. Since then, his ties with Portugal have become ever closer and he became a more frequent visitor to the country, often appearing to talk about events in Africa, the USA and Europe, and voicing his views on contemporary art, visual culture, post-colonialism, and the myriad new forms of knowledge that are currently being developed and causing us to question our very worldview. These appearances, Diawara’s role in organizing the African cinema cycle AFRICAN SCREENS in 2009 and his involvement in AFRICA.CONT, culminated in the production of his most recent films in Portugal. The last of these, An Opera of the World, was commissioned for documenta 14 in Kassel (Germany) and Athens (Greece), which took place between April and September 2017.
These films, which we would not hesitate to categorize as essay-like documentaries, exemplify Diawara’s views on subjects as disparate as the African diaspora (In Search of Africa; Diaspora Conversations: from Gorée to Dogon), contemporary life in African cities (Bamako Sigi-Kan; Conakry Kas), African cinema and ethnographic films (Sembène: the Making of African Cinema; Rouch in Reverse); the arts (Maison Tropicale), African literature and philosophy (Édouard Glissant: One World in Realation; Négritude: A Dialogue between Wole Soyinka and Lépold Senghor) and exile and immigration (Who’s Afraid of Ngugi?; An Opera of the World), all of them featuring different voices that mull over African issues, complex matters, ideals, relationships, and points of conflicts with the world, and the effects of globalization on his continent.