The Brother Moves On
Gallery News for The Brother Moves On
The Brother Moves On Live in Europe
Performance band The Brother Moves On will embark on a 16-stop, 12-city European summer tour titled OORKANT TWENTY16 from 7 July to 4 August. It will be the first European summer tour by the art and music collective (after four winter tours), and will include the prestigious Berlinfestspiele’s Foreign Affairs platform. This year Foreign Affairs pays homage to South African art giant William Kentridge and the Brother Moves On have been invited to create a work in reaction to Kentridge’s 1996 work Ubu tells the Truth and to headline the premier of Kentridge’s play Ubu and the Truth Commission on 14 July.
The tour will also see the band curate 100% SA music parties in Berlin (Germany), Paris (France) and London (UK) in an effort to engage the spaces they visit about the vast amount of South African music and art there is available online for purchase.
On Mandela Day (15 July) the band will give their 67 minutes in honour of the great humanitarian Nelson Mandela by giving workshops and playing at the Grand Hotel Cosmopolis, a refugee hotel in Augsburg Germany which houses 60 refugees who work at a music cafe and bar.
Shield and Spear enjoys LA premiere
The controversial documentary Shield and Spear shows at the Billy Wilder Theatre in the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on September 16. The recent work about “identity, art, race, and freedom of expression in South Africa, twenty years into democracy” is directed by Peter Ringbom and features artists Brett Murray, The Brother Moves On and Goodman Gallery senior curator Neil Dundas. Forthcoming screenings will take place at the Films From the South festival in Oslo (September 5) and the One World Arts festival in Ottawa (September 11).
Shield and Spear enjoys LA premiere
Shield and Spear in Johannesburg
The documentary Shield and Spear directed by Peter Ringbom features the contemporary South African artists, musicians and critics notably Brett Murray and the Goodman Gallery’s senori Neil Dundas. Others include the BLK JKS, Zanele Muholi, Gazelle, The Brother Moves On, Yolanda Fyrus, Fokofpolisiekar, and The Smarteez. Commentary is also given by journalists and editors Ferial Haffajee, Iman Rappetti, Charl Blignaut,Lloyd Gedye and Milisuthando Bongela. The Johannesburg premiere will be held at the Bioscope on 26 February followed by a special appearance by the band The Brother Moves On. With public screenings from 27 February to 6 March.
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
24 September – 8 October 2016
“Begin on the other side of discourse.” This was Michele Foucault’s solution to the problem of beginning – because for Foucault – in the very act of creating, the artist is already situated in a discourse governed by established institutional traditions.
The malleability of contemporary black traditions is at the core of The Brother Moves On’s first solo exhibition, Hlabelela, opening at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg on the 24th of September. The exhibition is one which questions each member’s personal histories, cultural background and beliefs as a means of unsettling the idea of a homogenised black experience and its acceptance by white art institutions and discourse. The performances, installations and videos exhibited serve not only as explorations of the complex identity of black youthful opposition but also a way in which to question whether these contemporary traditions can exist with the established traditions of art institutions and discourse.
The intersecting histories, cultural cross overs and the constant search for identity which inform so much of the collective’s work are brought about through collaboration and the exhibition is dedicated to the late founder of The Brother Moves On, Nkululeko Mthembu’s spirit of collaboration.
The title of the exhibition, Hlabelela: It’s a new Mourning Nkush, speaks to the cathartic connection the group achieves in remembering and re-membering the idea of a constant and ever-changing collaborative effort that is The Brother Moves On. “Hlabelela” in this particular context means to sing, to express oneself in the unitary practice of a collective happening. One cannot simply sing alone because in singing alone, exists the beginning of a collective singing together. A single voice echoes the sentiments of the choral relation.
According to the artists, the exhibition “questions whether there really is a space for our traditions and experiences in the art world and ours being black people.” Having lost their founder Nkululeko “Nkush” Mthembu the Brother found that there was little to no space for understanding the spiritual aspect of his death and the mourning process that followed within the practice and the commercialised setting of producing art for an art buying audience.
“Art had no space for death and mourning in the collective’s reality, and this mirrored the country’s own lack of space for the rituals of the land during the transformation… whether in the form of slaughter for the ancestors or singing collectively to mourn those who passed during this process.” So Hlabelela is a calling – and what it calls for is ‘ A New Mourning.’
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
15 December 2016 – 14 January 2017
Lisa Brice / Kudzanai Chiurai / David Goldblatt / Alfredo Jaar / Samson Kambalu / Kendell Geers / William Kentridge / Liza Lou / Gerald Machona / Gerhard Marx / Shirin Neshat / Walter Oltmann / The Brother Moves On / Jessica Webster
For its end-of-year Summer Show, Goodman Gallery Cape Town has gathered together a selection of important pieces from both new and existing bodies of work by its artists. Taken as a whole, the show presents a textured and vibrant series of engagements with the artists’ social and political environments through photography, sculpture, drawing, prints and video. The exhibition serves an as opportunity to show works not yet seen in Cape Town, and to introduce visitors to artists newly represented by the gallery.
Despite its title, David Golblatt’s A family picnic in the north-west. 15 August 2009 focuses on a macro view of the landscape and structures in which this human scene is taking place. The photograph illustrates Goldblatt’s change in narrative style since shifting to working in colour. As writer Christoph Danelzik-Brüggemann says in the book Intersections: “In parallel with a continued emphasis on striking human situations, in landscapes he developed a visual language that accorded more meaning to space than to time. The formats became larger and a plethora of extremely precisely recorded details (blades of grass, stones, person) combined to form tableaux which the viewer’s eye can explore at leisure. As an overall picture emerges from these details, the viewer becomes aware that the image tells of our times, of the people who live in this land, and of the forces that shape it.”
Walter Oltmann’s Bristle Disguise uses woven alumnium and razor wire to reference local craft traditions. Covered in spikes that recall both the elaborate dress often used in ritualised African dance and the pulsating energy radiated in the activity, his bodysuit merges craft and art. Oltmann has researched and written extensively on the use of wire in African material culture in South Africa and is deeply interested in the influence of these traditions in contemporary South African art. “In my sculptures I use images of natural phenomena (human, plant and animal) and play with the idea of mutation, hybrids and reconfiguring the familiar. Through dramatically enlarging and/or transposing features of one to the other, I play with the paradox between vulnerability and the monstrous. Using the language of craft, my artworks are always a product of labour and time,” he says.
In 2005, American artist Liza Lou first travelled to South Africa to initiate an art project with Zulu beadworkers. Starting with 12 women from the surrounding townships of KwaZulu-Natal, Lou’s project has flourished and has now grown to a collective of over 25 artisans. Her commitment to this community of Zulu women and to exploring the process and testing the limits of her chosen material has led to a minimal, contemplative practice in which the material has become the subject. Untitled #13 is a prime example of the end result; a formal object that, through subtle imperfections, bears witness to the manual labour and personal investment at stake.
Country of my skull was one of the installations included on The Brother Moves On’s solo exhibition, Hlabelela, at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg. The exhibition questioned each member’s personal histories, cultural background and beliefs as a means of unsettling the idea of a homogenised black experience and its acceptance by white art institutions and discourse. The performances, installations and videos explored the complex identity of black youthful opposition but also questioned whether these contemporary traditions can exist within the established traditions of art institutions and art discourse.
Lisa Brice’s Well Worn 5 was part of a body of work that featured a cast of female protagonists engaged in autobiographical acts of looking and being looked at. Grooming, making up, stripping down, dressing up within the confines of domestic, private or veiled interiors, they range from depictions of adoration and loathing, to defiance and reinvention. The mirror reflection reoccurs as a central motif, simultaneously functioning as an alter-ego and an imagined audience beyond the private, as well as a formal device within the painting.
In Life Magazine, April 19, 1968, Alfredo Jaar deconstructs a renowned photograph of Martin Luther King’s funeral that provides a stark visual essay on the racial prejudices that lead to King’s assassination. The work typifies Jaar’s interest in the politics of images: their effect on modern society ”bombarded by thousands of images without warning, without mercy, containing messages of consumption crafted by marketing and communications experts”. He directs the viewer to the parts of the visual experience that they may not have considered in their reckoning of who has power, who does not, and why.
Samson Kambalu’s Nyau Cinema consists of site-specific performances captured on and made in conversation with the medium of film. Born in Malawi and now based in London, Kambalu regards his work as a form of playful dissent that fuses the Nyau gift-giving culture of the Chewa, the anti-reification theories of the Situationist movement and the Protestant tradition of inquiry, criticism and dissent. “In my tribe, the Chewa, excess time and resources are not sold; instead it is squandered in ‘useless’ activities such as the arts, funerals, initiations etc. – all led by Nyau masks,” he says. “The role of the Nyau mask is thus to orchestrate the giving of gifts,” which in a capitalist culture, he explains, would be considered the squandering of surplus time and wealth. He invokes the concept of “Gule Wamkulu” (literally the “Great Play”), a ritual masked dance performed by the Chewa, which he describes as “really the creation of ‘Situations’, where a gift can be given without incurring a debt”.
Gerhard Marx’s Transparent Territory series consists of drawings that have been constructed from the fragments of decommissioned and discarded terrestrial maps. The focus in these works is on the act of taking the flat, rectangular depictions of landmass and territory (which maps are intended to be), and reconfiguring them into mineral-like geometric constructions in which folds, facets and overlays construct spatial illusions along with a sense of depth and interiority within the flatness of the map. The series takes inspiration from early depictions of perspectival illusion, most notably Giotto’s clustering of architectural structures. The works also burrow into the flatness of geographic depiction through an act of ‘cartographic mining’, in which the solidity of the earth’s surface is ruptured into a transparent palimpsest of geography and historical time that undermines the authority and singular viewpoint of the two-dimensional map.
Kudzanai Chiurai’s Genesis [Je n’isi isi] CI and Genesis [Je n’isi isi] XI, from his photographic series of the same name, recount the stories of the men who ventured with Livingstone into unexplored territories in central Africa. They included other Europeans who sought similar adventures and the porters and guides who bore the weight of their supplies as well as slaves freed from Arab slave traders. It re-imagines Livingstone’s journey with the guiding principles that Christianity and commerce were inseparable.
Drawing is at the heart of William Kentridge’s artistic practice, forming the basis for works in other media, particularly film. South Africa’s preeminent contemporary artist, Kentridge has earned international acclaim for his layered and complex work, which includes operas, theatre productions and films incorporating his own sculpture and drawings as well as collaborations with dancers and composers. Waiting for the Fire, a large-scale drawing in Indian ink, illustrates his facility as a draughtsman, clearly evident in the animated charcoal drawings that first brought him to the world’s attention.
In the series Our House Is On Fire, originally made as a special commission for the Rauschenberg Foundation, Shirin Neshat was inspired by time she spent in Egypt in the aftermath of the revolution in 2011. In close-up portraits and details of hands and feet, meticulously inscribed with the words of poets of the Iranian revolution, Neshat tells a story of loss and mourning particular to her subjects and simultaneously universal.
In Untitled (Influx I) Gerald Machona has collaborated with Mozambican choreographer Guiamba to create a performance-based installation that seeks to transform migratory objects and garments. A Zimbabwean now living in South Africa, Machona’s work has dealt repeatedly with the theme of migration. Crucial to this artwork is an attempt to disrupt the 55-minute hour scheme used by Cape Town garment factories, where an assembly line of seamstresses was governed by a clock that would run 55 minutes of production and 5 minutes of recess every hour. Rather than rely on a clock to keep time and a metronome to indicate tempo, the artists have drawn rhythm from a sewing machine to stitch together the dance and installation.
Every year Jessica Webster dedicates some time to working as roughly and freely as possible with ink and bleach on paper. “By now I have amassed a huge stack of A3 works, but I see this set of earlier pieces as some of the most successful.” Using ink and paper allows the artist “to get back in touch with some of the fundamentals of my practice: this is the relationship between the two-dimensional surface and the imaginary spaces that composition orders,” she says. Inks 1-15 references Sol Le Witt’s series of drawings Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes (1974). “While Le Witt’s work is interpreted as symbolising the purely visual metaphors of rationality and the Enlightenment subject, my painted copies evoke the more fragile and unstable aspects of geometry. Using Le Witt’s series as readymade references me to focus on how the bare minimum of painterly strokes can create conflict between the sense of depth caused by geometrical perspective and the fluidity and gesturality of hand-painted lines. In some of the works I continue this investigation with other objects, provoking the imaginary sites upon which geometry and order comes to be projected.”
As soon as you touch me I change –
Mr Gold, The Bother Moves on
Self proclaimed art movement The Brother Moves On is an ever-evolving performance art collective founded by Nkululeko Mthembu and his brother Siyabonga Mthembu. Determined to belie any one definition, the collective’s work is often deliberately improvised and unpredictable. Collaboration drives the collective, which strives to undermine the traditional authority of individual artist practice and ownership.
Long term members of the collective include Siyabonga Mthembu, Zelizwe Mthembu, Ayanda Zalekile, Simphiwe Tshabalala, Oscar Kgware, Itani Thalefi, Hlubi Vhakalise, Malcolm Jiyane , Nolan Oswald Dennis and Stuart Cairns but membership is constantly fluctuating and transient.
Various performers, writers, artists, musicians and activists may collaborate at any given time on different projects before moving on.
The collective create live performances and installations so that meaning is generated through an experience rather than contained within one object. Fiction, re-enactment and the fantastical are utilized in performances like The Afterlife of Mr Gold, which chronicles both the life and afterlife of a supernatural fat cat – and The Brother Breaks the Bullion and The Brother Burns the Bullion – where real word economics and queer identity are amalgamated into a fable of greed and power.
In combining elements of fiction, the supernatural and the fantastical with factual history or recorded ‘truths’ in their installations and performances, The Brother Moves On defamiliarises our experience of both our present and our past. Performative fiction, which drives so much of The Brother Moves On instigates the altered realities through which the collective critique and comment on the socio-political issues of our own reality.
The Brother Moves On (TBMO) got tired of of the idea of being a band and embraced a multi-aesthetic multi-disciplinary concept of a collective happening to new spaces and places.
“Re-challenging hip hop’s five pillars (MCing, DJing, B-boying, graffiti writing and knowledge of self) into a conceptechnic performance art project that incorporates historical, political and sociological perspectives” the collective hopes to remind and be reminded of the worth of its art.
2016 Hlabelela: It’s a New Mourning Nkush, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 Ubu Never Loved Us, Berliner Festspiel, Berlin, Germany
2015 The Afterlife of Mr Gold, Goodman Gallery / King Kong, Johannesburg South Africa
2014 Hank Willis Thomas Black Righteous Space, Featuring the Brother Moves On, Goodman Gallery / Alexander Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa
2014 The Brother Burns the Bullion, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg South Africa
2013 The Brother Breaks the Bullion,Goethe on Main, Johannesburg, South Africa
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