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The Aesthetics of Necessity: An Interview with Werewere Liking



Werewere Liking, b. 1950 in Cameroon, has developed in her oeuvre the concept of an aesthetics of necessity. Based on a combination of West African traditional philosophy, post-colonial ontology, and pragmatic material determinism, Liking expounds a theory of aesthetics driven by need. Present in her work in the theatre, novels, and musical productions, the aesthetics of necessity is for Liking the force behind the creative impulse of art in general. Africa provides a compelling example of creativity in everyday life, where a highly constrained environment and limited resources press individuals to continuously seek creative solutions to survive.
... When she decided in 1985 to leave her researcher position at Abidjan University and set up the Ki-Yi Village along with four friends and pupils, Werewere Liking did not perhaps anticipate that the artists' community steered by her would within a few years attract around a hundred members, and that her theatre troupe would travel all around the world. As she recalls, she was simply inspired by what she herself defines as an 'aesthetics of necessity' (Mielly, 2003): the need to create a place where artists might mature professionally and spiritually, and where she might experiment with her ideas about the change and regeneration of Africa through arts and misovire Pan-Africanism. ...
The theatre of Werewere Liking, a writer and artist from Cameroon, is a very interesting case of synthesis between her theoretical reflections on gender in postcolonial Africa and the aesthetic and social experimentation of a Pan-African ideal by the artists’ community she founded in 1985 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. For almost 20 years Liking’s theatre has been a tool of cultural intervention on African societies, aimed to resist the hegemony of a masculine, nationalist colonial discourse.
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