Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
31 August – 14 October 2017
The Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill
Opening Saturday 9 September at 18:00
Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce a major, dual-location exhibition by Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai, titled We Live in Silence, in which a new series of characteristically theatrical and politically charged works (photographs, videos, drawings, paintings and installation) will be presented.
Taking place across Goodman Gallery Johannesburg and Constitution Hill, We Live in Silence marks the final installment in a three-part series that began with Revelations (2011) and continued with Genesis [Je n’isi isi] (2016). Taken as a whole, this ambitious body of work disrupts what the artist refers to as ’colonial futures’, creating ‘counter-memories’ within his images to contest dominant colonial narratives.
The exhibition takes Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo’s critically acclaimed 1967 drama Soleil Ô as its starting point, responding, in particular, to the colonial mindset encapsulated in the following line from the film:
‘It’s crucial to be able to select individuals capable of speaking as we do, capable of thinking as we do, capable of retaining, of absorbing, yes absorbing words as we do and above all giving them the same meaning, and so there’ll soon be millions of white-washed blacks, white-washed and economically enslaved’.
In We Live in Silence, Chiurai dissects the film through similitude, recreating scenes intercut with visual references from popular culture and art historical sources to stage alternative colonial histories and futures that reject this notion that African migrants are to think, speak and understand language like their colonisers.
The exhibition also repositions the female role in recent struggle histories – recasting the lead character as a woman in the black liberation narrative to challenge the gender bias inherent to such narratives, which tend to pit a black male as the victim of colonisation and, hence, the liberator of the post-colony.
As with previous work, Chiurai collaborated with an award-winning production team: photographer Jurie Potgieter, art director Dylan Lloyd, stylist Bee Diamondhead, set designer Johann Krynauw, director of photography Adam Benton, sound producer João Orecchia, performance director Lindiwe Matshikiza and Botshelo Motuba who plays the main character throughout the photographic series.
Kudzanai Chiurai is an internationally acclaimed artist born in Zimbabwe in 1981. He was the first black student to graduate with a BA Fine Art from the University of Pretoria. Born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia, Chiurai’s early work focused on the political, economic and social strife in his homeland. Coinciding with We Live in Silence, Chiurai will have an early retrospective at Zeitz MOCAA in September this year. The artist has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery, accompanied by publications co-edited by the artist alongside leading African creatives, such as Mbali Soga and Lodi Matsetela. A new monograph on his work, While the Harvest Rots: Possessing Worlds of Kudzanai Chiurai’s Art, was published by Goodman Gallery earlier this year.
Chiurai has participated in major exhibitions at institutions such as SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, USA, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His work has been acquired by MoMA, Pigozzi Collection, Walther Collection, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Zeitz MoCAA and Iziko SANG. In 2013, his film Iyeza was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2012, Chiurai’s Conflict Resolution series was included in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and he was awarded the FNB Artist of the Year Prize.
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.