Of(f) Africa (Oct. 13, 2014)
‘Figural Cartography’ of Contemporary Africa. The figure; a signifier of the land, as depicted by three African artists through the visual exploration of their contemporary experiences.
The artists’ experiential comprehension of the physical, phantasmagorical and psychogeographic terrain as expressed through their compositions, is an alternate simulation of the land’s narrative. Through multidisciplinary approaches sculptor Abdulrazaq Awofeso, mixed media artist Vivien Kohler and photographer Ralph Ziman, have visually orated and challenged the continent’s socio-political, socio-economic and humanistic dynamics through the figural depictions in their work. The figures are vessels through which the artists’ thematic enquiries are explored; creating meaning through form.
These artists, as pictorial cartographers in their own right, have utilized the human form in their compositions as metaphorical representations; ‘figural’ signifiers of the continent, highlighting the innate interconnectivity between man, visual culture and evolvements in the urban sphere. The nuances of the continent’s terrain have been mapped through the artists’ interpretation and subjective depictions of the form, further contextualized in relation to the chosen space, place and objects.
The human figure composed through the perspective of the African artist rooted on the continent, can be perceived as an embodiment of the environment an extension of the landscape; its cultural dynamics, laden and contentious history, present yet ephemeral state of being, and envisioned future, for society and self. This notion can be observed through the figures which have been interwoven with visual symbolism, embedded with traces of shared human experiences, all of which mirror aspects of the corporeal. The sculptural, three dimensional compositional approach, and use of traditional and found materials as expressed contemporaneously by Awofeso, Kohler and Ziman, serve as connective symbols to the land’s past, and expressive of how it has shifted through modernity, as authored by the artists.
As the inaugural show of the OF(F) Africa series, this exhibition will contribute to the visual documentation of contemporary Africa and its transformations in the context of intra-African and global developments. It will aim to invigorate and transcend the confines of ‘traditional’ discourse about the aesthetic and modes of artistic practice in Africa, to ignite a re-reading of the continent’s arts through a semiotic and linguistic system founded within the individualizing philosophy of Pan African Aesthetics; the notion of art as performative, or derivative of the individual and collectives lived experience.
Kefiloe Siwisa (Curator)