Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014

About

In a show that negotiates the condition of xenophobia within Africa through the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism, Gerald Machona presents Vabvakure (People from Far Away) at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg. Vabvakure is a Shona word used to describe a “foreigner” and within the show Machona explores feelings of estrangement associated with the experience of “foreignness” while living in South Africa. This series of works developed as a response to the what Machona calls “the Afrophobic nature” of the xenophobic violence experienced in South Africa in 2008, and attempts to playfully disrupt the negative misconceptions of African expatriates and immigrants living in the country. Through the media of sculpture, film and photography, Machona binds magic realism with non-Western discourse in order to both examine contemporary predicaments on the continent and interrogate events of the past.

“Central to this body of work is my use of various decommissioned currencies as an aesthetic
material,” explains Machona, “in an attempt to link historic and contemporary trends of African diasporic migration on the continent. Most recently, the migration of Zimbabwean nationals into neighbouring SADC countries and abroad, following the country’s political and economic collapse. While South Africa hosts the largest population of these Zimbabwean nationals living in the diaspora, in May of 2008 they were amongst the foreign nationals persecuted by the xenophobic attacks. It was reported that people were targeted through a process of profiling that assumed authentic South Africans are lighter in complexion or fluent in an indigenous language; this resulted in 21 of the 62 casualties being local citizens. Such beliefs have complicated who is considered an ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ in South African society. Pitting ‘native’ against ‘alien’ and perpetuating an exclusive sense of belonging that is reminiscent of apartheid doctrine. There is a growing need in the post-colony to deconstruct these notions of individual and collective identity, since ‘nations’, ‘nationalisms’ and ‘citizenry’ are no longer defined solely through indigeneity or autochthony.”

Machona asserts that forms of cultural mediation such as visual and performance art can offer insights into social trauma and potentially resist intolerance and violence associated with xenophobia. He believes that one such meditative tool is “Nyau”, a masked masquerade originating in Malawi, which Machona subtly references in much of his work. “Scholarly studies have described the masquerade as a potentially subversive form of performance that was used by the Chewa people while living as ‘foreigners’ in Zimbabwe and other diasporas,” He explains. “They used it to challenge xenophobia and negative stereotypes associated with their identity as foreigners to Zimbabwean society. Adding a contemporary layer to this negotiation of imposed ‘strangeness’, I created characters that perform specific occupations typical of African immigrants in South Africa today. Each performer was titled with the Shona prefix ‘Ndiri’, meaning ‘I am’. For example, Ndiri barber, Ndiri barman, or Ndiri cross border trader. For each character I constructed a mask using decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars, which referenced the Nyau masquerade. This lead to a new character Ndiri Afronaut that performs in an astronaut’s suit meticulously stitched out of decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars. Each performance in this space suit was captured using video and is presented in this exhibition as a short film.”

Vabvakure ultimately recalls Julia Kristeva’s explanation that “Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity… By recognising him within ourselves; we are spared detesting him in himself…The foreigner comes in when the conscious of my difference arises, and he disappears when we all acknowledge ourselves as foreigners.”

  • People from Far Away

    Gerald Machona

    People from Far Away, 2012

    1920 x 1080 px DVD

    Edition of 5

  • Ita Kuti Kunaye II (Make It Rain II)

    Gerald Machona

    Ita Kuti Kunaye II (Make It Rain II), 2010

    Photographic C-Print on Fujifilm Crystal Archival Paper

    70.5 x 104.5 cm

    Edition of...

  • Ndiri Barman II (I am Barman II)
Body of Work: Ndiri Barman Performance

    Gerald Machona

    Ndiri Barman II (I am Barman II) Body of Work: Ndiri Barman Performance, 2010

    Photographic C Print

    42 x 59 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Fick Fufa

    Gerald Machona

    Fick Fufa, 2010

    C-Print on Fujifilm Crystal Archival Paper

    29.7 x 42 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Ndiri Afronaut (I am an Afronaut)

    Gerald Machona

    Ndiri Afronaut (I am an Afronaut), 2012

    Decommissioned Zimbabwean Dollar, Foam Padding, Fabric, Wood, Perspex, Rubber, Plastic Tubing, Nylo...

  • Uri Afronaut

    Gerald Machona

    Uri Afronaut, 2012

    Decommissioned Zimbabwean Dollar, Old South African Rand, Foam Padding, Fabric, Wood, Perspex, Rubber, Plastic Tubing, N...

  • The Monolith

    Gerald Machona

    The Monolith, 2012

    Wooden Door, Gold Leaf

    211.5 x 120 x14 cm (base 100x 100 x 10cm)

  • Flagging The Nation

    Gerald Machona

    Flagging The Nation, 2012

    Decommissioned Currency - Old South African Rand, Zimbabwean Dollar, Old Mozambiqhue Meticais, Old Angolan Kwanza...

  • The Protea

    Gerald Machona

    The Protea, 2012

    Decommissioned Currency-Old South African Rand, Zimbabwean Dollar, Old Mozambique Meticais, Old Angolan Kwanza, Old Zaires...

  • The Flaming Lily

    Gerald Machona

    The Flaming Lily, 2014

    Decommissioned Currency

    Dimensions Variable

  • The Rose

    Gerald Machona

    The Rose, 2014

    Decommissioned Currency

    Dimensions Variable

  • The Plum Blossom

    Gerald Machona

    The Plum Blossom, 2014

    Decommissioned Currency

    Dimensions Variable

  • The Chamomile

    Gerald Machona

    The Chamomile, 2014

    Decommissioned Currency

    Dimensions Variable

  • Ndiri Cross Border Trader ( I am a Cross Border Trader)

    Gerald Machona

    Ndiri Cross Border Trader ( I am a Cross Border Trader), 2010

    Lightjet print on Fuji Crystal Archive / Lightjet print on Fuji Crystal Archi...

  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Gerald Machona / Vabvakure (People from Far Away) / 2014]