[South-South] Let me begin again / 2017

Kiluanji Kia Henda / Kendell Geers / Thiago Martins de Melo / Haroon Gunn-Salie / Grada Kilomba / Carlos Garaicoa 28 January - 04 March 2017 Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Goodman Gallery Cape Town

Los Carpinteros • Flávio Cerqueira • Elizabet Cerviño • Ângela Ferreira • Carlos Garaicoa • Kendell Geers • Haroon Gunn-Salie • Kiluanji Kia Henda • Grada Kilomba • KutalaChopeto • Paulo Nazareth • Sisipho Ngodwana • Antônio Obá • Rosana Paulino • Wilfredo Prieto • Tracey Rose • Gustavo Speridião

IN THE VIDEO ROOM Maria Thereza Alves • Coco Fusco • Binelde Hyrcan • Thiago Martins de Melo • Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo

FEATURED PERFORMANCES iQhiya • Elizabet Cerviño • Ângela Ferreira’s Wattle and Daub with vocals by Lizette Chirrime*

Curated by Renato Silva and Lara Koseff

In the second edition of our South-South series, Goodman Gallery presents Let me begin again, an exhibition drawing parallels between artists from the Global South, whose work is situated within and beyond the afterlife of political revolution. The show looks at cross- cultural influence and divergence – both historical and recent – between countries such as Cuba, Brazil, South Africa and Angola, as well as other regions such as Mozambique, and Namibia; featured artists born in or living between these countries or in the diaspora.

Let me begin again considers a paradisal vision of race and class equality, and autonomy from Western domination, championed in the mid- to late 20th century. It is rooted in an intersection and unravelling of ideologies that emerged after revolution in Cuba, the end of military dictatorships in other parts of Latin American and independence in Africa, building up to the end of apartheid in the 1990s. The exhibition explores notions of freedom and control; artists revising and recalling historical moments, and challenging instability, yet sometimes embracing flux, in ways that are divergent from, but still linked to, political movements.

In July 1991, Nelson Mandela, president of the African National Congress (ANC) at the time, and Fidel Castro, then president of Cuba, spoke together on the same platform in Havana. Mandela was on a tour of Latin America, but his visit to Cuba marked an important moment for both world leaders. This interaction reflected Cuba’s mission of internationalism in the Global South; its support of African independence and involvement in the Angolan Civil War, which Mandela attributed as directly leading to the unbanning of the ANC. “The decisive defeat of the aggressive apartheid forces [in Angola] destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor,” Mandela said. Both Mandela and Castro spoke of the emancipation of the poor and the rightless. Castro exclaimed persistently, “How far we slaves have come!” On reflection, these were distinct leaders from regions emerging from and moving towards different socio-political realities. But they were also converging on a conviction of equality; finding common ground in evoking the power of what Ernesto Che Guevara called – in reference to the strength of the masses – the human tide. Yet at the time, while victories such as free and quality health care and education were celebrated, the disappointments of transition where becoming palpable in Cuba – which in the early 1990s was deep in economic crisis due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. And in Brazil, profound yet often concealed wounds were still only very slowly being revealed. Following Cuba, Mandela visited Brazil in August 1991, in efforts to seek continued sanctions in support for the end of apartheid. While there Mandela stated, “I have the feeling of being at home,” but was taken aback by the nuances of racial politics, and the latent and often clouded racial discrimination that lingered despite the transition into democracy.

Rereading this meeting of minds now – 25 years later, with dreams further deferred, tenuous diplomatic breakthroughs between enemy states, dissident voices, state control, unfinished projects, presidents on trial, lingering mass inequality and institutional racism, as well as looming neo-colonialism, is revealing and disheartening. While the world seemed to stop after the death of Mandela – his critics emerging mainly from South African – it was at odds over Castro’s more recent obituary, and his very polarising legacy. In a time when the Western world is again seeing the rise of the extreme right, the Global South appears to be grappling with the ideals, victories, as well as conflicting narratives and setbacks of the revolutionary left. Within this context of emerging economies and racially diverse societies, seems to be a need not only to move forward, but to revise and reconsider where we came from, to recover what has been lost.

This show comes 20 years after pivotal exhibitions such as Memorias Intimas Marcas – initiated by Fernando Alvim, in collaboration with Gavin Younge and Carlos Garaicoa, which looked at the residue of trauma caused by the Angolan Civil War – and the 2nd and last Johannesburg Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, which unusually for the international art world at the time included many artists from the Global South. Now, this edition of South-South reflects on how the ideologies that were being embraced in the 1990s have unfolded or collapsed in quieter, contemplative moments, but are also being reignited or challenged in new instances of heated rupture.

Let me begin again offers a deferential plea to unearth the forgotten; rethink the misrepresented or misunderstood; confront the seemingly irreversible; tackle unfinished projects and traverse unending beginnings. Featured artists embody a variety of divergent socio-political stances and, in some cases, markedly or seemingly apolitical ones. But in each instance is the sensation of – or a call for – reinvention, renewal or adaptation, from historiography to processes of working.

Let me begin again follows The Poetry in Between: South-South, the first edition in the series in 2015, which focused on Brazil and South Africa in particular.

Artworks

Bio

Kiluanji Kia Henda

Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979, Luanda, Angola) employs a surprising sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of post-colonialism and modernism in Africa. Kia Henda brings a critical edge to his multidisciplinary practice, which incorporates photography, video, and performance. Informed by a background surrounded by photography enthusiasts, Kia Henda’s conceptual-based work has further been sharpened by exposure to music, avant-garde theatre, and collaborations with a collective of emerging artists in Luanda’s art scene. Much of Kia Henda’s work draws on history through the appropriation and manipulation of public spaces and structures, and the different representations that form part of collective memory, in order to produce complex, yet powerful imagery.

Kia Henda has had solo exhibitions in galleries and institutions around the world. His work has featured on biennales in Venice, Dakar, São Paulo and Gwanju 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. In 2019, Kia Henda’s work was acquired by Tate Modern in London, and he was selected to participate on the Unlimited sector at Art Basel. In 2020 Kia Henda will be shown at the MAN Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro in Italy, marking his first major solo exhibition in a European museum.

Kia Henda currently lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon.

Kendell Geers

South African-born, Belgian artist Kendell Geers changed his date of birth to May 1968 in order to give birth to himself as a work of art. Describing himself as an ‘AniMystikAKtivist’, Geers takes a syncretic approach to art that weaves together diverse Afro-European traditions, including animism, alchemy, mysticism, ritual and a socio-political activism laced with black humour, irony and cultural contradiction.

Geers’s work has been shown in numerous international group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (2007) and Documenta (2002). Major solo shows include Heart of Darkness at Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town (1993), Third World Disorder at Goodman Gallery Cape Town (2010) and more recently Songs of Innocence and of Experience at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg (2012). His exhibition Irrespektiv travelled to Newcastle, Ghent, Salamanca and Lyon between 2007 and 2009. Geers was included on Art Unlimited at Art 42 Basel in 2011. Work by Geers was included on Manifesta 9 in Genk, Limburg, Belgium and a major survey show of his work was exhibited at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany in 2013. Earlier this year Geers held a solo exhibition, The Second Coming (Do What Thou Wilt), at Rua Red in Dublin.

Haroon Gunn-Salie

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.

Grada Kilomba

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.

Carlos Garaicoa

Carlos Garaicoa (B. 1967 Havana, Cuba) studied thermodynamics and later painting at the Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana (1989 – 1994). 

Garaicoa developed a multidisciplinary approach to address issues of culture and politics, particularly Cuban, through the study of architecture, urbanism and history. He focuses on a dialogue between art and urban space through which investigates the social structure of our cities in terms of their architecture. Through a wide variety of materials and media, Garaicoa found ways to criticise modernist Utopian architecture and the collapse of the 20th century ideologies. 

Garaicoa’shas held numerous solo exhibitions including Lunds Konsthall and Skissernass Museum, Lund (2019); Parasol Unit Foundation, London (2018); Fondazione Merz, Torino (2017); MAAT, Lisbon (2017); Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao (2017); Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2016); Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo (2015); CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Móstoles, Madrid (2014); Fundación Botín, Santander (2014); NC-Arte and FLORA ars + natura, Bogotá (2014); Kunsthaus Baselland Muttenz, Basel(2012); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Brunswick, Germany (2012); Contemporary Art Museum, Institute for Research in Art, Tampa (2007); H.F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2011); Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA), Amsterdam (2010); Centre d’Art la Panera, Lérida (2011); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Caja de Burgos (CAB), Burgos (2011); National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), Athens (2011); Inhotim Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo, Brumadinho (2012); Caixa Cultural, Río de Janeiro (2008); Museo ICO (2012) and Matadero (2010), Madrid; IMMA, Dublin (2010); Palau de la Virreina, Barcelona (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art (M.O.C.A), Los Angeles (2005); Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá (2000).

Garaicoa has participated in prestigious international events such as the Biennials of Havana (1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2015), Shanghai (2010), São Paulo (1998, 2004), Venice (2009, 2005), Johannesburg (1995), Liverpool (2006) and Moscow (2005), the Triennials of Auckland (2007), San Juan (2004), Yokohama (2001) and Echigo-Tsumari (2012); Documenta 11 (2003) and 14 (2017) and PhotoEspaña 12 (2012).

In 2005 Garaicoa received the XXXIX International Contemporary Art Prize Foundation “Pierre de Monaco” in Montecarlo, and the Katherine S. Marmor Award in Los Angeles.

Garaicoa currently lives and works between Havana and Madrid.