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March 15, 2016 - Comments Off on Rope, Dope & Hope by Lonwabo Kilani – 10 March – 2 April
Lonwabo Kilani works in various media - painting, drawing, video, and interactive media. In his work, serious play has real signification, both as a conceptual process and as a material application to communicate the black state of non-being. Kilani studied Film (animation) and later digital arts and interactive media. Because he believes in making art for a purpose, Lonwabo is an activist.
Rope, Dope & Hope
While no documents seem to directly point to the historical origins of rope skipping in South Africa, piecing together various historical events may reveal the story. Recently recognized as one of South Africa’s indigenous games and national sports, Ugqaphu (rope skipping) originates from the Dutch and Americans, whose children sang while skipping two ropes. This game later earned the name “Double Dutch.” The game of jumping over a rope has been dated far back to ancient times in numerous cultures throughout the globe. It existed as a sport in Ancient Egypt, and was known as “hundred rope jumping” in China. From the relationship between the colonial settlers in South Africa and those in the Americas, a brief historical analogy can be pieced together.
Now, between the whipping sounds and the breaking echoes of the rope, I want to situate the political reality about blackness- blackness which is equally rooted in play and enjoyment as well as fear and terror. To foster hope among American inner-city kids, police officer Ulysses F. William reintroduced Double Dutch as part of an Inner City Outreach program called “Rope not Dope.” This rhythmic loop of rope violently lashing against the surface is accompanied by tranquil hymns- one – two – three – ele ele, one – two – three – ele ele. The beat of these hymns feels synonymous to the corporal punishment received in my high school days- one – two – three – next. Corporal punishment was not allowed to exceed three lashes in those days. While both rhythms cease to be violent, they both represent forms of keeping black youth in line. When we look deeper into this peaceful, humming beat, we start to see the relationship between oppressing forces and Blackness. As these patterns are repeated, we become desensitised to them, accepting it as normal. In order to restore what is normal, we must trace the relationship between police forces and blackness paralleled to schooling and blackness. It seems as if “civilizing” today’s black youth serves as the primary educator.
February 5, 2016 - Comments Off on Cape Town Art Fair – AVA Gallery showcase
A selection of Hanien Conradie’s Master of Fine Art work, Spore, will be presented at the Cape Town Art Fair by the Association for Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery from 18-22 February 2016. Also presented at the AVA Gallery booth during the art fair are rising star artists Siwa Mgoboza and Bonolo Kavula.
Conradie’s paintings include installations with indigenous matter and reflected light effects. This masterful work also incorporates smaller flower paintings, drawing on traditions of botanical illustration and preservation.
Her sensitively designed artist’s book, Spore, documents her search for ‘belonging’ through tracing threatened flowers in the Breede River Valley, where her ancestors tilled the soil. Spore, is based on a 17th century herbarium catalogue. It is extensively illustrated with Conradie's artwork, site photographs and family pictures. In Spore, Conradie's ancestry and identity as an Afrikaans woman is questioned. Rather than drawing on post-colonial debates, the book employs radical eco-political perspectives to explore the alien and the indigenous, the vine and the fynbos.
A visit to the AVA booth (F2) brings to light the reality of a mounting ecological crisis in the Cape Floral Region as well as reveal the relationship between the landscape and cultural and individual identity.
Siwa Mgoboza’s photographic constructs manifest his ‘post-post-colonial’ world called AFRICARDIA. He has imagined this future land’s physical landscape, its inhabitants and animal-life. Here nature and humans live side by side peacefully, the world of difference does not exist and hybridity is taken to new levels of boundless subjectivity. Mgoboza’s frenetic compositions, including the use of Isishweshwe, are a reflection on what it would be like if a cosmic clash occurred and beings of AFRICARDIA were teleported to our current reality. Mgoboza recently graduated – with distinction - from Michaelis School of Fine Arts.
Bonolo Kavula uses materials associated with the home and the personal. These disparate objects are used through printmaking techniques to force a visual relationship between them by means of play and experimentation. Her gratuate exhibition at Michaelis School of Fine Arts was entitled Obfuscation - a word that she uses as a strategy to make her art works.
January 26, 2016 - Comments Off on Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu – Zimbabwean pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale – 13 Feb – 7 March 2016
In a major cultural coup for the local l Art (AVA) has negotiated to bring the highly-acclaimed exhibition in the Zimbabwean Pavilion from last year’s 56th Venice Biennale to Cape Town.
Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu – Exploring the Social and Cultural Identities of 21st Century will open at the AVA Gallery on Saturday, February 13, and be on view until 7 March 2016.
It will be the first show of the work by the three artists - Chiconzero Chazunguza, Masimba Hwati and Gareth Nyandoro - after the prestige event in Italy, and will coincide with the Cape Town Art Fair later in February. (In April it will be exhibited in Harare.)
The project, which will bring the artists, as well as the curator Raphael Chikukwa to the Mother City, is made possible by support provided by Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
Presented under the auspices of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Pixels of
organisation, the Association for VisuaUbuntu/Unhu was the centre of much praise during the Venice Biennale last year, the third time that Zimbabwe’s pavilion stood out in the art maze of this big biannual international event.
As the subtitle indicates, the artists interrogate identity and its place in the global sphere. The subject is an ongoing Zimbabwean source of inspiration. Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu continues the discourse on the appreciation and practice of ‘Ubuntu/Unhu’. Zimbabwean elders say “umuntu ngumuntu ngaBantu/ munhu munhu navanhu”. This is the deep-seated Afro centric assertion that “I am because we are” - which is the cornerstone of African people’s identity.
Chikonzero Chazunguza (born 1967) earned an MFA from the Institute of Pictorial Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he spent seven years. He returned to Zimbabwe in search of uniting his European training with indigenous art. His artist resource centre, Dzimbanhete Arts Interaction on the outskirts of Harare, is still thriving. Recipient of numerous awards, he has exhibited in Africa, Europe and North America.
His multidisciplinary artworks raise questions about the postcolonial condition and about the unstable role and nature of art in that context. Among his most compelling works are those that reinstate for the viewer, a sense of ritual order and of life’s deeper mysteries, alongside proffering incisive, yet subtle social and political analysis.
Masimba Hwati (1982) studied visual arts at the Harare Polytechnic, majoring in ceramics and painting. He has collaborated with artists from outside Zimbabwe and his work is in several private collections.
His interest is the memory and energy of traditional objects, and the space they occupy in the urban world. His work explores the transformation and evolvement of indigenous knowledge systems. He teaches art at the Polytechnic.
Gareth Nyandoro (1982) trained at Masvingo Polytechnic, Harare Polytechnic and Chinhoyi University of Technology. Street life and the human interaction that accompanies it are recurring themes in his work. He has exhibited in Zimbabwe, Africa and abroad, with various residencies and is currently on one at the Rijksakademie in the Netherlands.
Nyandoro combines images of vendors with found materials which he processes by employing idiosyncratic variations on traditional craft techniques - like weaving with paper. His installations bring the two- and three-dimensional components together through drawing, props, and objects. These works reflect his research in relation to space, narrative, or storytelling, and materials as they are altered and transferred.
Raphael Chikukwa is chief curator at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. He has been in charge of the two previous pavilions in Venice. The National Gallery’s director, Doreen Sibanda was the commissioner for Venice.
* On Saturday, February 20 at 12.00 there will be a question and answer session at the gallery with the curator, Raphael Chikukwa and visiting artists.
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