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Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity

!Kauru Contemporary African Art Project’s multimedia exhibition Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity.

Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity was exhibited at various venues across Gauteng in May and June. It also played an important role in the Department of Arts and Culture’s Africa Day celebrations. In particular, the exhibition addressed issues facing African nations and aimed to further develop relationships between the various countries.

The exhibition of video and photography examined the material and conceptual complexities of the African identity. Considering themes that interrogate race, gender, class, access, intersectionality, transformation and transcendence. These themes are topical in the public imagination, not only in the political realm but also within continental creative sectors. Further engaging the historical and political context of who we are and where we see ourselves going as Africans.

Both Paula Nascimento (Angola) and Raphael Chikukwa (Zimbabwe) shared curation of Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity. The exhibition featured works by some of the most prominent video and photography artists from Africa and the African diaspora, including the following:

Complexities of the African Identity
Ayana V. Jackson,
Stella (Dear Sarah series), 2016.
Archival pigment print on German etching (Ed of 8),
130 x 76cm.
Courtesy of UNISA Art Gallery.
  • Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe),
  • Irineu Destourelles (Cape Verde),
  • Lerato Shadi (South Africa),
  • Helen Zeru Araya (Ethiopia),
  • Ayana V. Jackson (USA/SA),
  • Délio Jasse (Angola),
  • Nástio Mosquito (Angola),
  • Mário Macilau (Angola),
  • Idelio Agnaldo Vilanculo (Mozambique),
  • Edson Chagas (Angola),
  • Mudi Yahaya (Nigeria),
  • David Aguacheiro (Mozambique),
  • Siwa Mgoboza (South Africa),
  • Thando Mama (South Africa), and
  • Louis Kibafika Kakudji (DRC)

‘The exhibition invites us to reflect upon fragments, composite identities, and a range of other themes. From sustainability to processes of appropriation and re-appropriation and others that independently form micro-narratives. When placed together and confronted with each other, such narratives can help us to forge new relations. Including social, ethical and geographical, as well as examine behaviours and modes of being that reveal the multiplicity of forces that shape our cultural spaces. Lastly, the conceptualisation of what it is that forms the African Identities within a context of constant movement and evolution,’ Paula Nascimento (co-curator)

Paula Nascimento is a Luanda-based architect, researcher and curator. Nascimento has degrees from the London Southbank University and the Architectural Association in London. She is a cofounder (in collaboration with Stefano Rabolli Pansera) and director of Beyond Entropy Africa, a research-based studio working in the fields of architecture, urbanism, visual arts and geopolitics. Nascimento is a regular contributor to various publications and catalogues, as well as a founding member of ‘Colectivo Pés Descalços’ (Barefoot). A platform for developing arts projects and educational projects in Luanda.

Raphael Chikukwa was born in Zimbabwe. He awarded the 2006/2007 Chevening Scholarship and holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Design from Kingston University, London. Chikukwa worked mainly as an independent curator for more than ten years. After which, joining the National Gallery of Zimbabwe as Chief Curator in 2010. Most noteworthy, he is the founding curator of the first Zimbabwe Pavilion in 2011. He has also curated the 2013 and 2015 editions at the Venice Biennale. Chikukwa was the co-curator for the Basket Case exhibition in 2014 and co-curator of Kabbo Ka Muwala: Migration and Mobility in Contemporary Art in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Germany. He is a founding staff member of the PUMA funded Creative Africa Network and has presented papers on his curatorial practise at the Tate Modern Symposium ‘Curating Africa’, and Art Basel Miami Conversations in the United States.

Complexities of the African Identity
Délio Jasse, The Face of God, 2015. Photography. Courtesy of !Kauru Contemporary African Art Project.

The !Kauru African Contemporary Art Project aims to promote conversations in Africa and internationally that change perceptions of the continent through contemporary art. It provides a platform for African contemporary artists and cultural practitioners to engage with a showcase of contemporary art from the continent. The project is focused on dialogue around social and economic cohesion, transformation and access within the creative sectors in South Africa but also across the continent to strengthen engagement and build sustained relationships with creatives in countries around the African continent. The project began in 2012 as a project of Back2Back Advertising under the guidance and management of Director Tshepiso Mohlala.

Over the past four years, !Kauru has exhibited over 100 artists from over 20 African countries. In support of the objectives of the African Union (AU) and to foster cooperation between all the African states, !Kauru African Contemporary Art Project is made possible through the generous support of the Department of Arts and Culture International Relations, with additional support from Pro Helvetia, UNISA Art Gallery, Eyethu Gallery, the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA), Remy Martin and Kwenta Media.

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