Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg. 21 May – 20 June 2015
CUSS Group (SA) // NTU (SA) // Tabita Rezaire (SA) // Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (SA) // Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi (SA) // Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria) // Haythem Zakaria (Tunisia) // Jean Katambayi Mukendi (DRC) // Sam Hopkins (Kenya) // Muchiri Njenga (Kenya) // Jepchumba (Kenya) // Brooklyn J Pakathi (SA) // Wanuri Kahui (Kenya) // Dineo Sheshe Bopape (SA) // Kapwani Kiwanga (FR) // The Brother Moves On (SA) // Just A Band (Kenya) // Lebogang Rasethaba & Nthato Mokgata (SA) // iMagineering Lagos Collective (Nigeria) // Smiso Zwane (OkMalumKoolKat, SA).
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About the Post African Futures Exhibition:
This research began as a survey of work focusing on South Africa, Kenya and small amounts in Nigeria. In this survey I found a rich and complex reference to technology that serves a number of critical positions. Here artists are using the conceptual frame of digital technologies and technology languages as a way to talk about African cultures against what they are perceived to be. This activity is multi-faceted and acts as a critique of both globalised media practices and romanticised Africanisms. These practices are entrenched in the socio-cultural; global image generation; traditional practices; and performance.
Digital Art as a medium-specific engagement in this frame addresses the digital as an imagined metaphysical and metaphorical conduit. Through the scope of the digital medium, artists represent the unseen and the magical, both as representation of cultural practices that cannot be adequately portrayed through image or film; and as a critique of Western systems of knowledge. This frames a critique of globalised forms and a resistance against a cultural predomination. It is important to understand that this practice is undeniably not a romantic indigenisation of technology or cute innovations for the irrevocably poor. It is rather a type of border thinking, a live conversation with the world that brings contemporary culture together with socio-cultural knowledge systems.
The title Post African Futures challenges a number of notions. The first being “Afro Futurism” as a container for any African work that addresses technology or science fiction subject matter. Many African artists have been lumped into this criterion, yet they present articulations that are unique to particular cultural perspectives and not a globalized Africanism.
The exhibition is an exploration of multiple “African cultures of technology” that have unique socio-political and economic histories. For instance, technology in South Africa is historically tied to apartheid, a possessive aggressive system of control where communications technology is still a power driven medium. South African artists reflect this — works are visually aggressive and challenge relationships to power, reflecting a lo-fi abrasiveness, an exploration of extremes and failures making for rich visual and aural work. While Kenyan histories are tied to social rebellion and change, here works strongly interrogate social justice, using networks and social narrative as primary conduits.