Goodman Gallery Cape Town
12 April – 12 May 2018
Curated by Candice Allison
Exhibition opening Thursday 12 April at 18:00
In Conversation: Kudzanai Chiurai & Khanya Mashabela, Saturday 14 April at 12:00
In November 2017, Kudzanai Chiurai’s ﬁrst solo exhibition in his home country, We Need New Names, went on view at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Its timing was prescient. While the country’s longstanding former President Robert Mugabe was being ousted through a military-led coup, Chiurai was exhibiting his politically-driven work, which combines art historical imagery with references from popular culture and archival material to explore the visual language and tropes that help construct myths, history, and ultimately power.
Under the continued curation of Candice Allison, Madness and Civilization re-stages this exhibition alongside new works and research that highlights Chiurai’s creative projects over the past two years. It takes its title from Michel Foucault’s seminal 1964 text Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. In so doing, the exhibition maintains Chiurai’s practice of revisiting and rejecting ‘colonial futures’, which fuel the notion that Africans should think, speak, and act like their colonizers.
The entry point into Madness and Civilization is a new series of mixed-media drawings. Fashioned in the likeness of screen-printed propaganda critical of white supremacy in 1970’s Rhodesia-Zimbabwe, the drawings are collaged with found letters, photographs, and images torn from The Kaffirs Illustrated, a reprinted folio of watercolour paintings originally produced in 1849. On top of each drawing, Chiurai has inscribed imagined letters by Foucault, writing on the intrinsic nature of madness — a diagnosis Chiurai believes was used to motivate colonial expansion and white minority rule in Africa and continues to serve as a contributing factor to the failure of post-colonial African nation states.
In addition, Madness and Civilization will present a selection of images from Chiurai’s photographic series Genesis [Je n’isi isi] (2016) and We Live in Silence (2017). The gallery’s video room will feature the ﬁlm We Live in Silence: Chapters 1-7, which recently screened at the Berlin International Film Festival, and later this year will head to the Rencontres du Film Court de Madagascar and Dak’Art Biennale. Several listening stations will also offer visitors the chance to browse Chiurai’s library of vinyl records, which include a selection of Zimbabwean Chimurenga and South African anti-apartheid struggle music, as well as rare recordings of speeches by Ian Smith, Kwame Nkrumah, Mobutu Sese Seko, Dr Martin Luther King, author Alex Haley, and a dramatic re-enactment of the trial of Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale.
Kudzanai Chiurai was born in Harare in 1981, where he currently lives and works. His work was the focus of two major solo surveys in 2017 including We Need New Names at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare; and Regarding the Ease of Others at Zeitz MoCAA, Cape Town. Other solo exhibitions have taken place at MoCADA, New York (2015); RISD Museum, Rhode Island (2015); Kulungwana Gallery, Maputo (2015); and Brixton Art Gallery, London (2003). Notable group exhibitions include In Their Own Form at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2018); Ex Africa presented by Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Belo Horizonte in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasília (2017-18); Africa. Telling a World at Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2017); Being There at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2017); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited at Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2015); dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel (2012); Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2011); and Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (2011). His ﬁlm Iyeza was included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, and was awarded a Jury Special Mention at the Melbourne International Film Festival that same year. He was awarded the FNB Artist of the Year award in 2012 and shortlisted for the 2014 Future Generation Art Prize.
Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe) was born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia. Chiurai incorporates various media into his practice, which is largely focused around cycles of political, economic and social strife present in post-colonial societies.
Chiurai’s artwork confronts viewers with the psychological and physical experience of African metropolises. From large mixed media works and paintings to photography and video, Chiurai tackles some of the most pressing issues facing these environments, such as xenophobia, displacement and inequality.
Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2003 and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, such as ‘Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography’ (2011) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and ‘Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now’ (2011) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other notable exhibitions include ‘The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited’ curated by Simon Njami at Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015), as well as ‘Art/Afrique, Le nouvel atelier’ (2017) at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, ‘Regarding the Ease of Others’ (2017) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, ‘Genesis [Je n’isi isi]- We Live in Silence’ at IFA in Stuttgart, Germany and ‘Ubuntu, a Lucid Dream’ (2020) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Chiurai’s ‘Conflict Resolution’ series was exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) in Kassel and the film ‘Iyeza’ was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery and has edited four publications with contributions by leading African creatives.
At present the artist lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.