Bill Kouélany Congo-Brazzaville

Bill Kouleany web

2019 Prince Claus Laureate

Bill Kouélany (Brazzaville, Congo-Brazzaville 1965)

Bill Kouélany is a leading figure in the arts in Congo-Brazzaville and was the first sub-Saharan woman invited to participate in documenta. She brings together multiple art forms, from writing and collage to painting and stage design, in imaginative ways that respond to a wide range of issues. In 2012 Kouélany founded Les Ateliers Sahm, a contemporary art centre that is unique in Congo-Brazzaville. It not only brings artists together to experiment and exchange ideas, it also provides space and materials for them to work in a wide variety of disciplines. Kouélany is committed to fostering young artists and to gender equality, creating opportunities for women through scholarships for art materials. Kouélany initiated RIAC, an annual month of performances, workshops and seminars by international experts as well as a residency programme that invites African and international artists to work with Congolese artists on specific themes. Ateliers Sahm also runs weekly workshops that support vulnerable children. In addition, she organises the participation of young artists in Dakar Biennale’s fringe programme, advancing their careers.

Photo: Portrait Bill Kouélany. Credit Francis KODIA