Goodman Gallery Cape Town
29 October – 7 December 2016
Kudzanai Chiurai • Nolan Oswald Dennis • Gabrielle Goliath • Haroon Gunn-Salie • Kiluanji Kia Henda • David Koloane • Moshekwa Langa • Gerhard Marx • Tracey Rose • Thabiso Sekgala • Jeremy Wafer
Goodman Gallery Cape Town’s group show Where We Are is a partner exhibition to Africans in America at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Where We Are offers a counter conversation to Africans in America, which explores the shifts in perspective that are occurring among a new generation of artists from Africa and the Americas as they transverse between the two. The Cape Town exhibition presents work by African artists within Africa – many of whom are still based in their country of origin – as opposed to working in the context of the diaspora.
The artists’ practice has either been rooted in or constantly drawn back to their places of origin – whether circumstantially or deliberately. Place is an inherent locus of the exhibition observable in a multitude of expressions, including map-making, borders, urban landscapes, migration and monuments.
Where We Are is a precursor to a larger exhibition that will take place in New York in 2017. It serves as a series of questions, interrogating history, geography and memory, both personal and collective. The artists examine the systems of place that define the daily lives and recent histories of people across the continent and find them wanting, resulting in many attempts at re-imagining. In the proposal of ideals and alternatives, the status quo is indicted and the past held accountable, as we attempt to understand where we are, how we got here and how to move forward.
Housed in an edifice of large wooden shipping crates, Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda’s video installation Concrete Affection – Zopo Lady references the mass exodus of Luanda’s inhabitants after Angola’s independence from Portugal’s colonial rule in 1975. The cityscape becomes a vivid fabric of motion and colour in an expansive drawing by David Koloane, for whom the city of Johannesburg is a muse.
Gabrielle Goliath’s chilling audio installation, Roulette, points to a defining feature of South Africa – the ever-present threat of violence. A stream of amplified static is punctured by a point-blank recording of a gunshot once every six hours (the damaging effects of which the participant is warned about before listening) – bringing to life femicide statistics showing that every six hours a woman in South Africa is killed by an intimate or ex-intimate partner, one of the highest rates in the world. Rather than confront the violence head-on, two photographs by the late Thabiso Sekgala look beneath the surface at the devastation in the mining towns of Rustenburg and nearby Marikana.
Drenched in red, Haroon Gunn-Salie’s sculptures of dismembered hands cast from public statues of Captain Carl von Brandis, Johannesburg’s first magistrate, and Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias are a powerful indictment of colonialist expansion. Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai engages in a similar re-contextualisation of colonial imagery in his Genesis series, which takes as a departure point stone reliefs commemorating the expeditions of David Livingstone and counters them by imagining an Africa reconnected with its rich traditional past. Tracey Rose also subverts historical assumptions of whiteness by recasting the role of the messiah as a challenge to canonical religious iconography.
The ideas of land and memory are central to Nolan Oswald Dennis’ triptych, which contains extracts from Wikipedia entries for the term “Azania” and points to the limits of and Western bias still so prevalent in human encyclopedic knowledge.
Jeremy Wafer explores the arbitrariness of the physical barriers and boundaries that define country, specifically the demarcation between Mozambique and South Africa. Similarly, Gerhard Marx deconstructs the borders defined in mapping to question notions of territory and the place of the human in the abstracted aerial view.
The abstraction of the landscape is taken to its end point in Moshekwa Langa’s work, an expressive evocation of distance and horizon offering a personal perspective on migration, loss of place and the bittersweet experience of return.
The exhibition includes a video programme hosted in Goodman Gallery Cape Town’s new street-level video room on Sir Lowry Road, echoing the thematic content of Where We Are with a focus on the individual as an anchor to place.
Thabiso Sekgala (b. 1981 in Johannesburg, South Africa) was a photographer whose work explores themes of abandonment, memory, spatial politics and concept of home. ‘In photography I am inspired by looking at human experience whether lived or imagined,’ Sekgala once expressed. ‘Images capture our history and who we are, our presence and absence. Growing up in both rural and urban South Africa influences my work. The dualities of these both environments inform the stories I am telling through my photographs, by engaging issues around land, peoples’ movement, identity and the notion of home.’
Sekgala held solo exhibitions in South Africa and Europe and has exhibited in group shows internationally, including Les Rencontres D’Arles, LagosPhoto Festival and Bamako Biennale. In 2013 he had residencies in both the Kunsterhaus Bethanien, Berlin, and at HIWAR/Durant Al Funun, Jordan.
He studied at Johannesburg’s Market Photo Workshop in 2007 to 2008 and was awarded the Tierney Fellowship in 2010.
Sekgala died in Johannesburg in 2014.
Nolan Oswald Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice explores what he calls ‘a black consciousness of space’ : the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization.
His work questions the politics of space and time through a system-specific, rather than site-specific approach. He is concerned with the hidden structures that pre-determine the limits of our social and political imagination. Through a language of diagrams, drawings and models he explores a hidden landscape of systematic and structural conditions that organise our political sub-terrain. This sub-space is framed by systems which transverse multiple realms (technical, spiritual economic, psychological, etc) and therefore Dennis’ work can be seen as an attempt to stitch these, sometime opposed, sometimes complimentary, systems together. To read technological systems alongside spiritual systems, to combine political fictions with science fiction.
He holds a degree in Architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and a Masters of Science in the Art, Culture and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Gabrielle Goliath situates her practice within contexts marked by the traces, disparities and as-of-yet unreconciled traumas of colonialism and apartheid, as well as socially entrenched structures of patriarchal power and rape-culture. Enabling opportunities for affective, relational encounters, she seeks to resist the violence through which black, brown, feminine, queer and vulnerable bodies are routinely fixed through forms of representation.
Goliath has exhibited widely, most recently in the Future Generation Art Prize, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev; Conversations in Gondwana, São Paulo Cultural Center, São Paulo; Kubatana – An Exhibition with Contemporary African Artists, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Norway; Verbo Performance Art Festival, São Paulo, and the Palais de Tokyo’s Do Disturb Festival, Paris. She has won a number of awards including a Future Generation Art Prize/Special Prize (2019), the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award (2019), as well as the Institut Français, Afrique en Créations Prize at the Bamako Biennale (2017). Her work features in numerous public and private collections, including the Tate Modern, the Iziko South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and the Wits Art Museum. Goliath is currently a Ph.D. candidate with the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Haroon Gunn-Salie (b. 1989, Cape Town) translates community oral histories into artistic interventions and installations. His multidisciplinary practice utilises a variety of mediums, drawing focus to forms of collaboration in contemporary art based on dialogue and exchange. Gunn-Salie completed his BA Honours in sculpture at Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 2012, where his graduate exhibition titled Witness presented a site-specific body of work focusing on still unresolved issues of forced removals under apartheid. The artist worked with veteran residents of District Six, an area in central Cape Town where widespread forced removals occurred following the Group Areas Act of 1950.
Significant exhibitions and projects that have featured Gunn-Salie’s work include: Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s 89-plus project, for which he participated in the 89plus programme with Obrist at the 2014 Design Indaba in Cape Town; Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design, which travelled to the Vitra Design Museum and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2015); What Remains is Tomorrow, the South African Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia (2015); and the 19º Festival de Arte Contemporânea Sesc Videobrasil (2015).
Gunn-Salie was placed in the top five of the Sasol new signatures competition in 2013. At the 19º Festival de Arte Contemporânea Sesc Videobrasil in 2015 he was awarded the first ever SP-Arte/Videobrasil prize, designed to encourage and publicise the work of young artists whose lines of research focus on the debate surrounding the Global South. As part of the award, Gunn-Salie presented a solo exhibition at Galpão VB during the SP-Arte fair in São Paulo in 2016. In 2018, the artist’s work commemorating the Marikana Massacre, Senzenina, formed part of the Frieze Sculpture exhibition, London, and in the same year he was the recipient of the FNB Art Prize.
Haroon Gunn-Salie is currently based between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Gerhard Marx (b. South Africa, 1976) develops his projects through an engagement with pre-existent conventions and practices. This process entails careful acts of dissection and rearrangement, which allow Marx to engage the poetic potential and philosophical assumptions of his chosen material, developing original drawing, sculptural and performative languages. Marx completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT and received his MA (Fine Art) (Cum Laude) from Wits School of Art, Johannesburg.
Ecstatic Archive is Marx’s sixth solo project with the Goodman Gallery. Marx’s work is shown regularly at international art fairs, held in numerous public and private art collections and was included on the South African pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Marx has been involved in the making of numerous public sculptures, including The World On Its Hind Legs, a collaboration with William Kentridge (Beverley Hills, LA), Vertical Aerial: JHB, (the Old Ford, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg), The Fire Walker, in collaboration with William Kentridge (Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Johannesburg) and Paper Pigeon, in collaboration with Maja Marx (Pigeon Square, Johannesburg). In 2018 Marx participated in the third season at the Centre for the Less Good Idea with his project Vehicle, in collaboration with musicians Shane Cooper and Kyle Shepherd. Vehicle is scheduled to form part of the Holland Festival in June 2019.
He has extensive experience in theatre, as a scenographer, director, filmmaker and playmaker, including REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony (directed by Marx, interactive film by Gerhard Marx and Maja Marx, composed by Philip Miller), performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London (2010), the Market Theatre, Johannesburg (2008) and the 62’Centre, William College, Massachusetts (2007).
Marx is a fellow of the Sundance Film Institute, the Annenberg Fund and of the Ampersand Foundation.
Part of Zimbabwe’s ‘born-free generation’, Misheck Masamvu (b. 1980 in Penhalonga, Zimbabwe) explores and comments on the socio-political setting of post-independence Zimbabwe, and draws attention to the impact of economic policies that sustain political mayhem. Masamvu raises questions and ideas around the state of ‘being’ and the preservation of dignity. His practice encompasses drawing, painting and sculpture.
Misheck Masamvu studied at Atelier Delta and Kunste Akademie in Munich, where he initially specialised in the realist style, and later developed a more avant-garde expressionist mode of representation with dramatic and graphic brushstrokes. His work deliberately uses this expressionist depiction, in conjunction with controversial subject matter, to push his audience to levels of visceral discomfort with the purpose of accurately capturing the plight, political turmoil and concerns of his Zimbabwean subjects and their experiences. His works serve as a reminder that the artist is constantly socially-engaged and is tasked with being a voice to give shape and form to a humane sociological topography.
Masamvu’s work has been well-received and exhibited in numerous shows including Armory Show 2018, Art Basel 2018, Basel Miami Beach 2017, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair New York 2016, São Paulo Biennale 2016, and the Venice Biennale, Zimbabwe Pavillion 2011.
Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979 in Luanda, Angola) employs a surprising sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of postcolonialism and modernism in Africa. Practicing in the fields of photography, video, and performance, Kia Henda has tied his multidisciplinary approach to a sharp sense of criticality. A profound springboard into this realm comes from growing up in a household of photography enthusiasts. Furthermore, his conceptual edge has been sharpened by immersing himself in music, avantgarde theatre, and collaborating with a collective of emerging artists in Luanda’s art scene. In complicity with historical legacy, Kia Henda realises the process of appropriation and manipulation of public spaces and structures, and the different representations that form part of collective memory, as a relevant complexion of his aesthetical construction.
His solo exhibitions have been held in galleries and institutions around the world. His work has featured on biennales in Venice, Dakar and São Paulo as well as major travelling exhibitions such as Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design and The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists.
Kia Henda currently lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon.
Born in Durban, South Africa in 1953. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa
Jeremy Wafer was born in Durban in 1953, grew up in Nkwalini, Zululand, and studied at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg (B.A.F.A.1979) and at the University of the Witwatersrand (B.A. Hons. in Art History 1980 and M.A. Fine Art 1987). He has taught since 1982 in the Fine Art Departments of the Technikon Natal and the Technikon Witwatersrand before being appointed Associate Professor in the School of Arts of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg from 2004 where he is currently Head of the Department of Fine Art and History of Art. He has exhibited regularly in South Africa and abroad. His work is represented in the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, the South African National Gallery, the Johannesburg Art Gallery and in many other museum, private and corporate collections.
Born in Durban, South Africa, in 1974
Lives and works in Durban