In Context: Where We Are

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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.

  • Genesis [Je n'isi isi] V

    Kudzanai Chiurai

    Genesis [Je n'isi isi] V, 2016

    Pigment inks on premium satin photo paper

    Image: 120 x 180cm; Paper 145 x 200 cm

    Edition of ...

  • Roulette

    Gabrielle Goliath

    Roulette, 2012

    Sound installation (6 hour looping audio, earphones, customized doormat)

    Variable

  • Concrete Affection - Zopo Lady

    Kiluanji Kia Henda

    Concrete Affection - Zopo Lady, 2014

    Installation with shipping crates

    Dimensions variable

  • Shapes From Cityscapes 2

    David Koloane

    Shapes From Cityscapes 2, 2013

    Mixed Media

    130 x 463 cm

  • Transparent Territory 1

    Gerhard Marx

    Transparent Territory 1, 2016

    Cut and reconstituted map fragments on board

    85 x 85 cm

  • Lucie’s Fur Version 1:1:1 – La Messie

    Tracey Rose

    Lucie’s Fur Version 1:1:1 – La Messie, 2003

    Lambda Photography

    148 x 102 cm

    Edition of 8

  • Tiger

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Tiger, 2012

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Azania

    Nolan Oswald Dennis

    Azania, 2016

    Digital print on mirror divine

    3 pieces (200 x 35cm each)

  • Untitled (Layered Landscape)

    Moshekwa Langa

    Untitled (Layered Landscape), 2009

    mixed media on paper

    140 x 100 cm

  • Soft Vengeance (Carl von Brandis)

    Haroon Gunn-Salie

    Soft Vengeance (Carl von Brandis), 2015

    Reinforced urethane

    115 x 82 x 89cm

    Edition of 6

  • Soft Vengeance (Bartolomeu Dias)

    Haroon Gunn-Salie

    Soft Vengeance (Bartolomeu Dias), 2015

    Reinforced urethane

    88 x 70 x 80cm

    Edition of 6

  • The air we breath, these metal release Co2 for miners underground, Marikana

    Thabiso Sekgala

    The air we breath, these metal release Co2 for miners underground, Marikana, 2012

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    ...
  • Abacorn

    Jeremy Wafer

    Abacorn, 2002

    Aluminium, vinyl

    Variable

  • Installation picture [In Context: Where We Are]
  • Installation picture [In Context: Where We Are]
  • Installation picture [In Context: Where We Are]
  • Installation picture [In Context: Where We Are]
  • Installation picture [In Context: Where We Are]
  • Installation picture [In Context: Where We Are]