Simon Njami is a writer and an independent curator, lecturer, art critic and essayist.
He published his first novel “Cercueil et Cie” in 1985, followed by “Les Enfants de la Cité” in 1987, and “Les Clandestins” and “African Gigolo” in 1989. He has written biographies of James Baldwin and Léopold Sédar Senghor, several short texts, scripts for cinema, and documentary films. Njami is the co-founder of Revue Noire, a journal of contemporary African and extra-occidental art, and he was Visiting Professor at UCSD (University of San Diego California).
After conceiving the Ethnicolor Festival in Paris in 1987, he curated many international exhibitions presenting African contemporary artists work on international stages. He has served as Artistic Director of Bamako Encounters, the African Photography Biennale, from 2001 to 2007. Njami is the curator of “Africa Remix”, showed in Düsseldorf (Museum Kunst Palast), London (Hayward Gallery), Paris (Centre Pompidou), Tokyo (Mori Museum), Stockholm (Moderna Museet) and Johannesburg (Johannesburg Art Gallery), from 2004 to 2007. He co-curated the first African Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He curated the first African Art Fair, held in Johannesburg in 2008, and was the Artistic Director of Luanda Triennale (2010), Picha (Lumumbashi Biennale – 2010), SUD (Douala Triennale – 2010), among others exhibitions and international art events.
His exhibition “The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Hell, Purgatory by Contemporary African Artists” was shown at MMK (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main) from 21 March to 27 July 2014, The SCAD Museum of Art from 16 October to 25 January and at Smithsonian Institution/ African Art Museum, Washington, from 8 April to 1 November 2015.
Njami was the Artistic Director of the Edition 12 of Dak’art, the Dakar Biennale, in Senegal from May, 3 to June 2, 2016 and the Edition 13 of the Dakar Biennale in May–June, 2017. He curated “Afriques Capitales” in La Villette (Paris) and Gare Saint-Sauveur (Lille), in France, showed from March to September 2017.
Njami has been invited to be part of numerous art and photography juries, such as the World Press Photo Contest, Njami is the Art Adviser of the Sindika Dokolo Foundation (Luanda) and the Artistic Director of the Donwahi Foundation (Abidjan) and member of the scientific boards of numerous museums.
He is currently directing “AtWork”, an itinerant and digital project with Lettera27 Foundation, in partnership with Moleskine, as well as the Pan African Master Classes in Photography, a project that he conceived with the Goethe Institut.