Everything fits to our daily needs
In a time of massive global environmental threats such as climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and global health threats, Goodman Gallery’s South South presentation in Johannesburg considers the connection between planetary transformations and human agency in relation to our current geological epoch, known as the Anthropocene.
Referred to by some as the Capitalocene, this epoch has been defined by the impact of industrial development on the climate. This exhibition considers from a Global South perspective the impact of these human activities, tracing the historic and current extraction and exploitation of human and natural resources.
The title of the exhibition is taken from a project by Sue Williamson, titled What about El Max? El Max was a small fishing community in the city of Alexandria, Egypt where, until it was recently demolished, life was lived much as it had been for centuries. At the time of Williamson’s project the community was under threat from the military stationed nearby which frequently interfered with fishing activities by closing the entrance from the canal to the sea.
A petrochemical company located at the top of the canal also wanted the community moved elsewhere because the fishermen complained about the water pollution caused by the company. While there, Williamson interviewed locals about life in El Max. Following this Williamson, together with her interviewees, settled on a statement which summed up their feelings about their community. This statement was painted on the walls of their houses, in English, in Arabic and in western alphabet Arabic. The signs were there for more than a decade until El Max was demolished.
Kiluanji Kia Henda’s The Geometric Ballad of Fear is a series of nine photographs of idyllic landscapes on the Sardinian coast, between stacks, wild vegetation and the open sea. However, each photograph was superimposed on the structure of a grid, evocative of metal barriers of protection and repentance. The landscape scenarios, already anaesthetised by the choice of black and white, appear inaccessible and forced into the distance as if they were observed through a security barrier. The work evokes the walls and borders, physical and legal, with which the European continent has equipped itself in response to migration.
Yinka Shonibare’s Hockey Sticks similarly considers migration from a historical standpoint. Created as part of a project with Meadow Arts and Hereford Cathedral, Shonibare incorporated the characters from the medieval Mappa Mundi on display in the cathedral itself to create depictions of medieval and contemporary cultural hybrids. These depictions explore what Shonibare refers to as, “two of the most pressing concerns of our time, environmental protection and immigration. Inspired by the ability of the Mappa Mundi to still be reflecting our contemporary concerns of fear of the stranger or “other” which often leads to xenophobia. The depictions of extinct creatures of legend are a reminder that we may yet become extinct if we do not take care of our environment.”
Ernesto Neto describes his fabric works as ‘resonating with the vibrations and energy of the earth’s soil’. The works are made from traditional African and Brazilian textiles. In bringing these different materials together, Neto suggests how cultures develop and transform through globalisation and exchange, while still maintaining an inherent connection. By further interweaving organic shapes out of this fabric, the artist mimics the network of roots, soil and animals: lives which exist beneath the earth’s surface and bring to mind the energy of the earth, ‘from a historical, mineral, biological and spiritual point of view’.
William Kentridge’s Untitled (Whispering in the Leaves) is taken from his three-channel projection, Notes Towards a Model Opera. Rooted in the extensive research into the intellectual, political, and social history of modern China, from Lu Xun to revolutionary theatre, the work explores dynamics of cultural diffusion and metamorphosis through the formal prism of the eight model operas of the Cultural Revolution.
Modernism as a colonial legacy is reflected in Yto Barrada’s Reprendre Casa, Carrières Centrales, Casablanca (2013). This series of photographs show trends in modernist urban development of the city, highlighting the failure of a universal model which did not take into account the needs and customs of the local population.
In Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s, Did you never think there would come a time?, a distant volcano can be seen erupting. This scene is contrasted by a seated woman, poised as she
watches the impending doom of the volcano inching closer and closer to this seemingly safe reality. Sunstrum further heightens this tension by introducing a hole, or void, below the woman’s feet, which the artist explains could pertain to “the seeming stability of the ground and what happens when we thought to be solid is not solid at all and falls out beneath us.”
In Haiti, the conch (also called “lambi”, the name of the mollusc) is used in rural areas as a trumpet to signal the beginning of a meeting of the community. This call through the shell as an instrument is a very strong symbol in Haiti, having been used during the slave rebellion led by Francis Mackandal in 1791. Mackandal appealed to the African community in bondage through the conch, in order that they meet and free themselves.
Kapwani Kiwanga’s glass conch is moulded on a conch from Haiti. The glass that is poured into the mould is obtained from Haitian sand. The process of transforming the sand into glass through fire is highly symbolic. Its violence evokes the inherent difficulty in the accessing of freedom, especially through the emblematic provenance of the material. Moreover, the tension present in the glass material, hard but fragile, in turn, echoes the notion of emancipation. Thus, the method of transformation and the characteristics of the materials are united in this work, suggesting a balance of power and fragility.
Misheck Masamvu uses painting as a way to show the ‘breakdown of the pursuit of humanity’. His emotionally charged paintings express the artist’s psychological state as he experiences the socio-political strife taking place in his home country. Masamvu, who studied at the Atelier Delta and Kunste Akademie in Munich, is influenced by the German Expressionist and Neo-Expressionist movements. His works consist of layered painted surfaces, abstracted forms and brushstrokes which are almost visceral and exist as remnants of the physical action of painting. One gets the sense that multiple temporalities have been included in one picture plane and that beneath the surface of one painted image, an infinity of others exists.
Mateo Lopez’s collage works form part of the ongoing series, ‘The waste of my time’, in which the artist repurposes unused materials in his studio. The latest works in this series were made in the artist’s New York studio just before lockdown in 2020, using cardboard, acrylic paint and grommet. López draws inspiration from an anecdote on Josef Albers at Bauhaus Preliminary Class in 1923, which encapsulates his playful and pared-down approach.
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.
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s (b. 1980, Mochudi, Botswana) multidisciplinary practice encompasses drawing, painting, installation and animation. Her work alludes to mythology, geology and theories on the nature of the universe. Sunstrum’s drawings take the form of narrative landscapes that appear simultaneously futuristic and ancient, shifting between representational and fantastical depictions of volcanic, subterranean, cosmological and precipitous landscapes.
One of Sunstrum’s most notable projects in London came in the form of a 2018 mural which wrapped around the exterior of The Showroom. The work was dedicated to South African Novelist Bessie Head and formed part of the exhibition titled Women on Aeroplanes, curated by The Otolith Group, Emily Pethick, and Elvira Dyangani Ose.
Key exhibitions and performances include: All my seven faces at Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA (2019); Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa; The Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (2019); Kunsthaus Zürich (2019); The Nest, The Hague (2019); Michaelis School for the Arts at the University of Cape Town (2018); Artpace, San Antonio, TX, USA (2018); The Phillips Museum of Arts, Lancaster (2018); Interlochen Centre for the Arts, Interlochen (2016); NMMU Bird Street Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth (2016); Tiwani Contemporary, London (2016); VANSA, Johannesburg (2015); Brundyn Gallery, Cape Town (2014); FRAC Pays de Loire, France (2013); the Havana Biennial (2012); and MoCADA, New York (2011).
Mateo López (b. 1978, Bogotá, Colombia) lives and works be-tween Bogotá and New York. He studied architecture for two years at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá before switching to Visual Arts at Bogotá’s Universidad de Los Andes.
López’s work engages with cartographies, journeys and con-struction processes while grappling with themes of chance, encounter and time. His practice traces a conceptual ap-proach, expanding from drawings to installations, architec-ture, films and sculptural choreography. Key international solo exhibitions include Sin Principio / Sin Final Museo de Arte Universidad Nacional, Bogota, Colombia (2018); Undo List, The Drawing Center, New York, USA (2017); A Weed is a Plant Out of Place, Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Ireland (2016) and Deriva at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2009). Important group exhibitions include United States of Latin America, curated by Jens Hoffmann and Pab-lo León de la Barra at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, USA (2015); A Trip from Here to There, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2013) and Ha sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar, 29 Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2010).
Major awards and residencies include the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. William Kentridge’s Protégé, Geneva Switzerland in 2012 and the Gasworks Residency Program, London, UK in 2010, which was followed by an exhibition.
López’s work can be found in public collections around the world, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Banco de la Republica, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia, Inhotim, Minas Gerais, Brazil and Museum of Mod-ern Art (MoMA), New York, NY.
Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who considers social injustices and human suffering through thought-provoking installations. Throughout his career Jaar has used different mediums to create compelling work that examines the way we engage with, and represent humanitarian crises. He is known as one of the most uncompromising, compelling, and innovative artists working today.
Through photography, film and installation he provokes the viewer to question our thought process around how we view the world around us. Jaar has explored significant political and social issues throughout his career, including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders, and the balance of power between the first and third world.
Jaar’s work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013), Sao Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010) as well as Documenta in Kassel (1987, 2002).
Important individual exhibitions include The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1992); Whitechapel, London (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1995); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1994);The Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005) and The Nederlands Fotomuseum (2019). Major recent surveys of his work have taken place at Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (2007); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie and Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin (2012); Rencontres d’Arles (2013); KIASMA, Helsinki (2014); and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017).
The artist has realised more than seventy public interventions around the world. Over sixty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2018, and has recently received the prestigious Hasselblad award for 2020.
His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo; TATE, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MAXXI and MACRO, Rome; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlaebeck; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; M+, Hong Kong; and dozens of institutions and private collections worldwide.
The artist lives and works in New York, USA.
Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, Cape Town) is a Johannesburg based artist whose works in multiple mediums (including film installation, video, photography, collage and painting) attempt to engage critically with the instability of images and the politics of representation.
Subotzky has exhibited in a number of important international exhibitions, including most recently Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican in London (2020), Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa at the Fowler Museum (UCLA) in Los Angeles (2019) and Ex Africa in various venues in Brazil (2017-18). His award-winning Ponte City project (co-authored with Patrick Waterhouse) was presented at Art Basel Unlimited in 2018. The full exhibition and archive of this
project has since been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will be the subject of a monographic exhibition there in 2021.
Subotzky’s work is collected widely by international institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington), Tate (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the South African National Gallery, among others.
Subotzky’s work was included in Lubumbashi (2013) and Liverpool (2012) biennials. Pixel Interface, a multi-component video installation, was included in All The World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
Yto Barrada (Moroccan, French, b.1971, Paris) studied history and political science at the Sorbonne and photography in New York. Her work — including photography, film, sculpture, prints and installations, — began by exploring the peculiar situation of her hometown Tangier. Her work has been exhibited at Tate Modern (London), MoMA (New York), The Renaissance Society (Chicago), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London), and the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennale.
She was the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year for 2011, after which her exhibit RIFFS toured widely. Barrada is also the founding director of Cinémathèque de Tanger. A comprehensive monograph was published by JRP Ringier in 2013. She is a recipient of the 2013-2014 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography (Peabody Museum at Harvard University) and was awarded the 2015 Abraaj Prize.
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.
Sue Williamson (b. 1941, Lichfield, UK) emigrated with her family to South Africa in 1948. Trained as a printmaker, Williamson also works in installation, photography and video. In the 1970s, she started to make work which addressed social change during apartheid and by the 1980s Williamson was well known for her series of portraits of women involved in the country’s political struggle.
Referring to her practice, Williamson states: “You become aware of the audience to whom you speak. In that sense, you think backwards: what you have to say, whom you say it to, and how it will reach the audience. Having to consider your work through the eyes of somebody who knows nothing about you as an artist and what you are doing is a useful exercise.” Williamson has managed to avoid the rut of being caught in an apartheid-era aesthetic, “I am never particularly interested in doing what I did the last time. I take one thing and work it out a number of ways.”
In 2018, Williamson was Goodman Gallery’s featured artist at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, where she exhibited her work Messages from the Atlantic Passage, a large-scale installation of shackled, suspended glass bottles engraved with details taken from 19th century slave trade documents. This installation was also exhibited the previous year at Art Basel in Switzerland and at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India in 2018.
Williamson’s works feature in numerous public collections across the globe, including those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, Tate Modern, London, UK, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA, Wifredo Lam Centre, Havana, Cuba, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, and Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa.
Williamson has received various awards and fellowships such as the Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship 2011, Italy, Rockefeller Foundation, the Visual Artist Research Award Fellowship 2007, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA and the Lucas Artists Residency Fellowship 2005, Montalvo Art Center, California, USA.
Sue Williamson lives and works in Cape Town, 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.
Yinka Shonibare CBE (b. London, UK, 1962 -) moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to the UK to study Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art, London and Goldsmiths College, London, where he received his Masters in Fine Art.
He has become known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalization. Through his interdisciplinary practice, Shonibare’s work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity through a political commentary of the interrelationship between Africa and Europe, and their respective economic and political histories. Shonibare uses citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities.
In 2002, he was commissioned to create one of his most recognised installations, Gallantry and Criminal Conversation for Documenta XI. In 2004, he was nominated for the Turner Prize and in 2008, his mid-career survey began at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; touring to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. In 2010, his first public art commission Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, and was acquired by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
In 2013, he was elected as a Royal Academician and in 2017, Wind Sculpture VI was featured in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of the Arts, London as part of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Shonibare was also commissioned by the Yale Center for British Art to create Mrs Pinckney and the Emancipated Birds of South Carolina for inclusion in ’Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World’, which went on display at Kensington Palace, London in 2017.
His recent commission with the Public Art Fund, Wind Sculpture (SG) I, is now on permanent display at Davidson College, North Carolina.
He was awarded the honour of ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.
His work is included in notable museum collections including Tate, London; the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Moderna Museet, Stockholm and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago among others.
Ernesto Neto (b. 1964, Rio de Janeiro) explores constructions of social space and the natural world by inviting physical interaction and sensory experience. Drawing from Biomorphism and minimalist sculpture, along with Neo-concretism and other Brazilian vanguard movements of the 1960s & 70s, the artist both references and incorporates organic shapes and materials – spices, sand and shells among them—that engage all five senses, producing a new type of sensory perception that renegotiates boundaries between artwork and viewer, the organic and manmade, the natural, spiritual and social worlds.
Neto’s work has been the subject of major museum exhibitions worldwide. In 2011, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey in Mexico opened the artist’s first survey exhibition, La lengua de ernesto: retrospectiva 1987-2011, which travelled to Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City in 2013. The artist also presented important solo exhibitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (2012), Faena Arts Center in Buenos Aires, which traveled to Estação Leopoldina in Rio de Janeiro (2011-2012), Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre in London (2010) Museum of Modern Art in New York (2010); Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo (2010), Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art (2010), Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma in Italy (2008), Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2002), and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (2002), among others.
In 2001 Neto represented Brazil at the 49th Venice Biennale, and in 2017 Neto was prominently featured in Vive Arte Viva at the 57th Venice Biennale curated by Christine Macel. Neto’s work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions and biennials, most recently the 14th Biennale de Lyon, curated by Emma Lavigne (2017), Manifesta 7 (2015), along with 2017 group shows at Guggenheim Bilbao, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Centre Pompidou-Metz, and a permanent installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. In 2018, a large installation GaiaMotherTree was shown at the Zurich train station, in collaboration with Fondation Beyeler, with a month-long corresponding public and education program that took place inside the work.
Neto’s work is extremely well represented in international museum collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Gallery in London, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Hara Museum in Tokyo, Contemporary Art Center of Inhotim in Brazil, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among many others.
Neto studied at Rio de Janeiro’s Escola de artes visuais do Parque Lage in 1994 and in 1997, and also attended the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art from 1994 to 1996.
Neto lives and work in Brazil