Goodman Gallery Cape Town
25 May – 13 July 2019
Broomberg & Chanarin
Nolan Oswald Dennis
Kiluanji Kia Henda
Acts of Reading takes as its starting point the ways in which information is exchanged,
communicated and understood. It aims to provide a space whereby traditional, linear
modes of knowledge production are disrupted and questioned, communication systems
are explored and documented, or new information networks are proposed.
In an interview from 1985, Brazilian educator Paulo Freier, who wrote the seminal book
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, stated that the “act of reading cannot be explained as
merely reading words since every act of reading words implies a previous reading of the
In different ways the artists featured on this exhibition grapple with different methods for
reading the world. Nolan Oswald Dennis looks to archaeology and the way in which the
earth is read. Referencing the political philosopher Achille Mbembe, Dennis states, “the
task of the reader is to make the whole world speak” – a concept which he develops in the
strata of his constructed xenolith sculptures.
Investigating the documentary form as an information system and the role it plays in
“history-making”, Kiluanji Kia Henda restages scenes with overlaid texts from a 1997
CNN documentary on the influence of the Cold War on Africa. Similarly, Broomberg
and Chanarin’s work The Day Nobody Died critiques journalistic modes of reporting
information and events by subverting “the conventional language of photographic
responses to conflict and suffering”. Haroon Gunn-Salie considers how sneakers hanging
from cables act as signifiers for informal information points, memorialising them in
Tabita Rezaire explores the structure of Information and Communication Technologies
(ICT) comparing them to ‘the organic world’. Rezaire does this by looking at ways in
which we could overcome the “organism/spirit/device dichotomies”. Her film Premium
Connect explores “spiritual connections as communication networks and the possibilities
of de-colonial technologies”. Kapwani Kiwanga transposes a reading from an Ifa Priest
onto a piece of music to be played through a barrel organ. This work looks at how
information can be abstracted in different contexts.
Grada Kilomba creates her “own vocabulary as a black female artist” developing
dictionary definitions to “paths of consciousness” for the audience. Shirin Neshat similarly
explores the nuances between consciousness and unconsciousness, delving into the world
of dreams – where we process the information we have received while awake.
mounir fatmi’s The Weight refers to the “fleeting nature of language” through an
installation featuring several Koran’s in English, French and Arabic. fatmi has read verses
in each of these languages and uses them to represent the effect of migration and how
knowledge is physically carried through language.
In his film Soft Dictionary, William Kentridge attempts to chronicle the fragmented nature
of the thoughts and “non sequiturs that are lodged in our heads”. Following multiple
streams of consciousness, traversing the boundary between incoherence and the
arbitrary, Kentridge documents the need to make connections between images and their
references in order to understand the world.
Tabita Rezaire (b.1989, Paris, France) is infinity incarnated into an agent of healing, who uses art as a means to unfold the soul. Her cross-dimensional practices envision network sciences – organic, electronic and spiritual – as healing technologies to serve the shift towards heart consciousness. Navigating digital, corporeal and ancestral memory as sites of resilience, she digs into scientific imaginaries to tackle the pervasive matrix of coloniality and the protocols of energetic misalignments that affect the songs of our body-mind-spirits. Inspired by quantum and cosmic mechanics, Tabita’s work is rooted in time-spaces where technology and spirituality intersect as fertile ground to nourish visions of connection and emancipation. Through screen interfaces and collective offerings, she reminds us to open our inner data centers to bypass western authority and download directly from source.
Tabita is based in Cayenne, French Guyana. She has a Bachelor in Economics (Fr) and a Master of Research in Artist Moving Image from Central Saint Martins (Uk). Tabita is a founding member of the artist group NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and the mother of the energy house SENEB.
Tabita has shown her work internationally – Centre Pompidou, Paris; Serpentine London; MoMa NY; New Museum NY; MASP, Sao Paulo; Gropius Bau Berlin; MMOMA Moscow, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; ICA London; V&A London; National Gallery Denmark; The Broad LA; MoCADA NY; Tate Modern London; Museum of Modern Art Paris – and contributed to several Biennales such as the Guangzhou Triennial, Athens Biennale, Kochi Biennale (2018); Performa (2017); and Berlin Biennale (2016).
mounir fatmi was born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1970. When he was four, his family moved to Casa-blanca. At the age of 17, he traveled to Rome where he studied at the free school of nude drawing and engraving at the Acadaemy of Arts, and then at the Casablanca art school, and finally at the Rijksakad-emie in Amsterdam.
He spent most of his childhood at the flea market of Casabarata, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tangiers, where his mother sold children’s clothes. Such an environment produces vast amounts of waste and worn-out common use objects. The artist now considers this childhood to have been his first form of artistic education, and compares the flea market to a museum in ruin. This vision also serves as a metaphor and expresses the essential aspects of his work. Influenced by the idea of de-funct media and the collapse of the industrial and consumerist society, he develops a conception of the status of the work of art located somewhere between Archive and Archeology.
By using materials such as antenna cable, typewriters and VHS tapes, mounir fatmi elaborates an experimental archeology that questions the world and the role of the artist in a society in crisis. He twists its codes and precepts through the prism of a trinity comprising Architecture, Language and Machine. Thus, he questions the limits of memory, language and communication while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. mounir fatmi’s artistic research consists in a reflection upon the history of technology and its influence on popular culture. Consequently, one can also view mounir fatmi’s current works as future archives in the making. Though they represent key moments in our contemporary history, these technical materials also call into question the transmission of knowledge and the suggestive power of images and criticize the illusory mechanisms that bind us to technology and ideologies.
Since 2000, Mounir fatmi’s installations have been selected for several biennials, the 52nd and 57th Venice Biennales, the 8th Sharjah Biennale, the 5th and 7th Dakar Biennales, the 2nd Seville Biennale, the 5th Gwangju Biennale, the 10th Lyon Biennale, the 5th Auckland Triennial, the 10th and 11th Bamako Bien-nales, the 7th Shenzhen Architecture Biennale, the Setouchi Triennial and the Echigo-Tsumari Trienni-al in Japan. His work has been presented in numerous personal exhibits, at the Migros Museum, Zur-ich. MAMCO, Geneva. Picasso Museum La Guerre et la Paix, Vallauris. AK Bank Foundation, Istan-bul. Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf and at the Gothenburg Konsthall. He has also participated in several group exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Brooklyn Museum, New York. Palais de Tokyo, Paris. MAXXI, Rome. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. MMOMA, Moscow. Mathaf, Doha, Hayward Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and at Nasher Mu-seum of Art, Durham.
He has received several prizes, including the Uriöt prize, Amsterdam, the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor at the 7th Dakar Biennale in 2006, as well as the Cairo Biennale Prize in 2010.
Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978, Hamilton, Canada) studied anthropology and comparative religion at McGill University (Montreal, CA). She has followed the program “La Seine” at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, and also works at Le Fresnoy (a french national center for contemporary art). She was artist in residence at the MU Foundation in Eindhoven (NL) and at the Box in Bourges (FR).
Working with sound, film, performance, and objects, Kiwanga relies on extensive research to transform raw information into investigations of historical narratives and their impact on political, social, and community formation. The Paris-based artist’s work focuses on sites specific to Africa and the African diaspora, examining how certain events expand and unfold into popular and folk narratives, and revealing how these stories take shape in objects and oral histories. Trained as an anthropologist, Kiwanga performs this role in her artistic practice, using historical information to construct narratives about groups of people. Kiwanga is not only invested in the past but also the future, telling Afrofuturist stories and creating speculative dossiers from future civilizations to reflect on the impact of historical events.
Kiwanga was the inaugural winner of the 2018 Frieze Artist Award and in 2019 held a solo exhibition at MIT List Visual Arts Center and was on group exhibitions at Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, as well as Whitechapel and Serpentine Sackler galleries in London.
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.
Shirin Neshat (b. 1957, Qazvin, Iran) completed her education in the USA in 1974, five years later the Islamic Revolution prevented her from returning to her home country for almost twenty years. Her personal experiences as a Muslim woman in exile have informed her practice in which she employs photography, video installation, cinema and performance to explore political structures that have shaped the history of Iran and other Middle Eastern nations. Neshat portrays the alienation of women in repressive Muslim societies interrogating the role reserved for women Islamic value systems. In her practice, she employs poetic imagery to engage with themes of gender and society, the individual and the collective, and the dialectical relationship between past and present, through the lens of her experiences of belonging and exile.
She has mounted numerous solo exhibitions at museums internationally, including: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Serpentine Gallery, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Recent solo exhibitions include: Kunstraum Dornbirn, Austria; Faurschou Foundation, Copenhagen; Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany; and Museo Correr, Italy, which was an official corollary event to the 57th Biennale di Venezia in 2017. A major retrospective of her work was exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2013. Neshat was awarded the Golden Lion Award, the First International Prize at the 48th Biennale di Venezia (1999), the Hiroshima Freedom Prize (2005), and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2006). In 2009, Neshat directed her first feature-length film, Women Without Men, which received the Silver Lion Award for “Best Director” at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Dreamers marked her first solo show on the African continent, which exhibited at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg in 2016. That same year, Neshat featured in the New Revolutions: Goodman Gallery at 50 exhibition in Johannesburg and in the Summers group exhibition at Goodman Gallery Cape Town. In 2017, Neshat was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award for Painting. That same year, Neshat directed Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at the Salzburg. In 2017, Neshat was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award for Painting. That same year, Neshat directed Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at the Salzburg. The Broad Museum in Los Angeles recently hosted a survey exhibition of the last 25 years of Neshat’s work.
The artist lives and works in New York, USA.
Adam Broomberg (b. 1970, Johannesburg, South Africa) and Oliver Chanarin (b. 1971, London, UK) are artists living and working between London and Berlin. They are professors of photography at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg and teach on the MA Photography & Society programme at The Royal Academy of Art (KABK),The Hague which they co-designed.
Their work considers themes of surveillance, warfare, and institutional authority. Having stood at the frontlines of war, Broomberg and Chanarin have captured zones of conflict not as documentarians, but rather as unassuming witnesses. Their images have resisted the allure of being purely representational, and have instead considered how a photograph can capture more than just a visual encounter. Tackling politics,religion, war and history, Broomberg and Chanarin prise open the fault lines associated with such imagery, creating new responses and pathways towards an understanding of the human condition.
Together they have had numerous solo exhibitions most recently at The Centre Georges Pompidou (2018) and the Hasselblad Center (2017). Their participation in international group shows include the Yokohama Trienniale (2017), Documenta, Kassel (2017), The British Art Show 8 (2015-2017), Conflict, Time, Photography at Tate Modern (2015); Shanghai Biennale (2014); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); Tate Britain (2014), and the Gwanju Biennale (2012). Their work is held in major public and private collections including Pompidou, Tate, MoMA, Yale, Stedelijk, V&A, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Baltimore Museum of Art.
Major awards include the ICP Infinity Award (2014) for Holy Bible, and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2013) for War Primer 2. Broomberg and Chanarin are the winners of the Arles Photo Text Award 2018 for their paper back edition of War Primer 2, published by MACK.
Nolan Oswald Dennis (b. 1988, Zambia) 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.
Dennis’ 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).
William Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003, 2012), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina Museum in Vienna (2010), Jeu de Paume in Paris (2010), and the Musée du Louvre in Paris (2010), where he presented Carnets d’Egypte, a project conceived especially for the Egyptian Room. Kentridge’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented at Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Festival d’Aix, and in 2011 at La Scala in Milan, and his production of Shostakovich’s The Nose was seen at The New York Metropolitan Opera in 2010 and again in 2013, travelling to Festival d’Aix and to Lyon in 2011. The five-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time was made for Documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany, in 2012; since then it has been seen at MAXXI in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and other cities including Boston, Perth, Kyoto, Helsinki and Wellington. A substantial survey exhibition of Kentridge’s work opened in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, going on in following years to Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Bogota, Medellin, and Mexico City. In the summer of 2014 Kentridge’s production of Schubert’s Winterreise opened at the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Aix, and Holland Festival. In the fall it opened at the Lincoln Center in New York. Paper Music, a concert of projections with live music by Philip Miller, opened in Florence in September 2014, and was presented at Carnegie Hall in New York in late October 2014. Both the installation The Refusal of Time and its companion performance piece Refuse the Hour were presented in Cape Town in February 2015. More recently, Kentridge’s production of the Alban Berg opera Wozzeck premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2017, and last year his acclaimed performance project The Head & The Load opened at Tate Modern in London, and travelled to Park Avenue Armory in December 2018. In June 2019, A Poem That I Used To Know opened at Kunstmuseum, Basel in Switzerland. This comprehensive survey show includes early drawings, major film installations, sculpture and two new pieces, an installation and a film, produced by Kentridge in response to works in the museum’s permanent collection.
In 2010, Kentridge received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the field of arts and philosophy. In 2011, he was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa from the University of London. In 2012, Kentridge presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University and was elected member of the American Philosophical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also in that year, he was awarded the Dan David Prize by Tel Aviv University, and was named as Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2013, William Kentridge was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by Yale University and in 2014 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town.
Why Should I Hesitate, a major survey show, divided across the Norval Foundation and Zetiz MOCAA, opened in late August 2019 and will run until July 2020. In addition, Kentridge’s new opera project, Waiting for the Sibyl, premiered at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in September 2019. Waiting for the Sibyl was created in response to Alexander Calder’s Work in Progress. Most recently, Kentridge’s production of Alban Berg opera Wozzeck ran at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe) was born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia. Chiurai incorporates various media into his practice, which is largely focused around cycles of political, economic and social strife present in post-colonial societies.
Chiurai’s artwork confronts viewers with the psychological and physical experience of African metropolises. From large mixed media works and paintings to photography and video, Chiurai tackles some of the most pressing issues facing these environments, such as xenophobia, displacement and inequality.
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.
Grada Kilomba (b. 1968, Lisbon, Portugal) is an interdisciplinary artist, whose work draws on memory, trauma, gender and post-colonialism, interrogating concepts of knowledge, power and violence. “What stories are told? How are they told? And told by whom?” are constant questions in Kilomba’s body of work, to revise post-colonial narratives.
Kilomba subversively translates text into image, movement and installation, by giving body, voice and form to her own critical writing. Performance, staged reading, video, photography, publications and installation are a platform for Kilomba’s unique practice of storytelling, which intentionally disrupts the proverbial ‘white cube’ through a new and urgent decolonial language and imagery.
Her work has been presented in major international events such as: La Biennale de Lubumbashi VI; 10. Berlin Biennale; Documenta 14, Kassel; 32. Bienal de São Paulo. Selected solo and group exhibitions include the Pinacoteca de São Paulo; Bildmuseet, Umeå; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; The Power Plant, Toronto; Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin; MAAT-Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon; Secession Museum, Vienna; Bozar Museum, Brussels; PAC-Pavillion Art Contemporanea, Milan, among others. Kilomba’s work features in public and private collections worldwide.
Strongly influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon, Kilomba studied Freundian Psychoanalysis in Lisbon – at ISPA, and there she worked with war survivors from Angola and Mozambique. Early on she started writing and publishing stories, before extending her interests into staging, image, sound and movement.
Kilomba holds a distinguished Doctorate in Philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin. She has lectured at several international universities, such as the University of Ghana and the Vienna University of Arts, and was a Guest Professor at the Humboldt Universität Berlin, Department of Gender Studies. For several years, she was a guest artist at the Maxim Gorki Theatre, in Berlin, developing Kosmos 2, a political intervention with refugee artists. She is the author of the acclaimed “Plantation Memories” (Unrast, 2008) a compilation of episodes of everyday racism written in the form of short psychoanalytical stories. Her book has been translated into several languages, and was listed as the most important non-fiction literature in Brazil, 2019.
The artist lives and works in Berlin.