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.
Jeremey Wafer (b. 1953, Durban, South Africa) grew up in Nkwalini in what was then Zululand. He studied fine art 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).
Wafer has taught in the Fine Art Departments of the former Technikon Natal (now DUT) and Technikon Witwatersrand (now UJ) before being appointed Associate Professor. Wafer received his PhD in 2016 and was subsequently appointed full professor of Sculpture in the School of Arts of the University of the Witwatersrand.
Wafer is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, notably the Standard Bank National Drawing Prize in 1987 and the Sasol Wax Art Award in 2006. His work featured on the South African Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Wafer has exhibited in South Africa and internationally, his work is represented in the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, the South African National Gallery, the Johannesburg Art Gallery as well as in many other museum, private and corporate collections.
Wafer lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Misheck Masamvu (b. 1980, 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.
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. In 2020, Masamvu took part in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.
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.
Gabrielle Goliath (b.1983) 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 Our Red Sky, Göteborgs Konsthall, Gothenburg; Le Guess Who, Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Future Generation Art Prize, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev and Venice; 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. Her solo exhibition, This song is for… is currently installed at the Iziko South African National Gallery, and will travel in 2021 to the Durban Art Gallery, Durban; William Humphreys Museum, Kimberley; and Konsthall C, Stockholm.
Goliath 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, Iziko South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and Wits Art Museum. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate with the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Thabiso Sekgala (b. 1981 in Johannesburg, South Africa) was a photographer whose work explored 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 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 from 2007 to 2008 and was awarded the Tierney Fellowship in 2010.
Sekgala died in Johannesburg in 2014.
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.
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).
David Koloane (1938 – 2019) was born in Alexandra, Johannesburg, South Africa. Koloane spent his career making the world a more hospitable place for black artists during and after apartheid. Koloane achieved this through his pioneering work as an artist, writer, curator, teacher and mentor to young and established artists at a time when such vocations were restricted to white people in South Africa. A large part of this effort involved the initiatives Koloane helped establish, from the first Black Art Gallery in 1977, the Thupelo experimental workshop in 1985 and the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in 1991, where he served as director for many years. Koloane also tutored at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in 1979 and became the head of the fine art section and gallery from 1985 to 1990.
Through his expressive, evocative and poetic artwork, Koloane interrogated the socio-political and existential human condition, using Johannesburg as his primary subject matter. Koloane’s representations of Johannesburg are populated with images of cityscapes, townships, street life, jazz musicians, traffic jams, migration, refugees, dogs, and birds among others. Imaginatively treated, through the medium of painting, drawing, assemblage, printmaking and mixed media, Koloane’s scenes are a blend of exuberant and sombre, discernible and opaque pictorial narratives.
Koloane’s work has been widely exhibited locally and internationally. In 1999 he was part of the group exhibition _Liberated Voices_ at the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC. In 2013, Koloane’s work was shown on the South African pavilion at the 55th la Biennale di Venezia and on the group exhibition _My Joburg_ at La Maison Rouge in Paris. In 1998, the government of the Netherlands honoured Koloane with the Prince Claus Fund Award for his contributions to South African art. Koloane was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate twice, once from Wits University in 2012, and again from Rhodes University in 2015. In 2019 Koloane was the subject of a travelling career survey exhibition, _A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane_, which opened at IZIKO SANG and later travelled to Standard Bank Gallery and Wits Art Museum in October.
Gerhard Marx (b. 1976, South Africa) 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.
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. He lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.