Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe)
The vinyls turn, long contemplative drags of a cigarette, interchanged with sips of beer. Occasionally catching some of the crackling lyrics, repeating them, breathing them out, while the rest stumble in my throat as the beer ferments and intoxicates them.
What else can we do? I respond to the music. We celebrated at independence, we rejoiced when every man had a vote, but that was a long time ago. Now we sit as men without the springs of youth and energy. The shadows from our past make us unrecognisable; we occupy our homes as phantoms, masked by confusion.
What else can we do? The seed of independence has produced a harvest we barely recognise. Stored outside on a darasurrounded by walls that prevent us from consuming it, it rots from the rain and crumbles in the sun, turning to dust, falling back to the earth from whence it came.
What else can we do?
I am not alone, as the clouds gather in my thoughts, swirling into a storm, engulfing the sounds and words around me. I try to distract myself by glancing at the paintings hanging on the wall, barely visible in the shadow, hinted at only by the glint of their gilded frames. A canvas of rolling hills, a rich and fertile landscape, uninterrupted views, no factory or buildings or roads in sight, inhabited only by distant, blurred figures the painter thought to include. Next to them, Christ hangs from a cross, his sacrifice for our sins. These were the stories we learnt at the missionary schools. They stare back at me, as if to mark a period in my life, as a reminder of the saviour so significant when I was growing up. He already saved me before, when I queued with the other boys to receive with eyes wide, the oil and water that would absolve us of our sins, the sins of our parents, and their parents before them. How will he save me now?
What else can we do? It’s a paralysing question to ask while sitting in the room, as the shadows make themselves at home, the music and paintings resting in their depth. As the storm brews, the thought of them fills my thoughts.
While the harvest rots outside.
Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2003 and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, such as Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (2011) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now (2011) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other notable exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited curated by Simon Njami at Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015), as well as Art/Afrique, Le nouvel atelier (2017) at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Regarding the Ease of Others (2017) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Genesis [Je n’isi isi]- We Live in Silence at IFA in Stuttgart, Germany and Ubuntu, a Lucid Dream (2020) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Chiurai’s Conflict Resolution series was exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) in Kassel and the film Iyeza was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery and has edited four publications with contributions by leading African creatives.
At present the artist lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.Download full CV
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