Mohau Modisakeng, Untitled (Test), 2016 Courtesy Mohau Modisakeng Studio
Material, metaphor and the black body are the tools that Mohau Modisakeng uses to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society, on how we understand our cultural, political, and social roles as human beings in post-colonial Africa and in particular post-apartheid South Africa. Represented through film, large-scale photographic prints, installations and performances, his work doesn’t start off with an attempt to portray violence but it becomes mesmerising because although we might recognise history as our past, the body is indifferent to social changes, so it remembers. Born in Soweto, an epicentre of black urbanity and cosmopolitan culture, the multi-award winning Mohau Modisakeng is a product of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art. Mentored by Jane Alexander and predominantly working and training in sculpture, he completed his undergraduate degree in 2009 then completed his Masters degree at the same institution. He currently lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Mohau Modisakeng with Candice Breitz will represent South Africa at the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event: the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Modisakeng and Breitz will present a major, two-person exhibition in the South African Pavilion, running from 13 May to 26 November 2017 in Venice, Italy. The South African Pavilion exhibition will invite viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating the notion of selfhood within a context of global marginalisation and it will reflect on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, exploring the complex socio-political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.
The Essop twins, Hasan and Husain, have been collaborating since their graduation from the University of Cape Town. The role of the individual in society is the key of their work, especially the space that Muslim youth occupy and negotiate in a secular environment. The use of the figure as well as the eyes in Islam is controversial and the artists are careful about limiting this representation to their own bodies and assuming responsibility for it. They are not interested in making objective statements, their questions are personal and intimate and they perform these questions and the search for answers with their own bodies. We also speak of the split personality within ourselves. That’s why our previous work was made up of so many (characters) all wearing different costumes representing the different facets of one’s self. They look at the photographs as dreams, a memory or dream they have experienced and which they try to recreate: Our work is quite surreal, in the sense that in some photographs it is impossible for it to be reality. It’s fake, there are five of us. The photographs occupy a space between the spontaneous and the staged, documentation and narrative, between overt expression and what is left unsaid. Their work has appeared in several group shows, including Integration and Resistance in the Global Age at the Havana Biennale, ABSAL’Atelier in Johannesburg and Power Play at Goodman Gallery Cape, as well as various private and public collections, including the Durban Art Gallery and the South African National Gallery, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde where on November 2016 they opened an exhibition of the series Unrest . They are represented by Goodman Gallery.
Athi Patra-Ruga | WHATIFTHEWORLD
Athi-Patra Ruga, performance of Over the Rainbow as Versatile Queen Ivy for Performa Gala 2016, New York. All images by Max/Lakner/BFA.com. Courtesy of Performa Athi Patra-Ruga, It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon,2016 (still) Courtesy the artist and Art : Concept, Paris Photo: Martin Argyrogla
Born Umtata, South Africa in 1984 and lives and works in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Exploring the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art, Athi-Patra Ruga makes work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humor, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct. A Utopian counter-proposal to the sad dogma of the division between mind and body, sensuality and intelligence, pop culture, craft and fine art, his works expresses the eroticism of knowledge and reconciles the dream with experience. Athi-Patra Ruga was also recently included in the Phaidon book ‘Younger Than Jesus’, a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33. His works form part of Private, Public and Museum Collections here and abroad, namely: Museion, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bolzano Italy; CAAC, Pigozzi Collection; The Wedge Collection, IZIKO South African National Gallery. In 2015, Ruga was awarded The Grahamstown National Arts Festival’s 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art and presentedThe Elder of Azania, a work that is part of his ongoing performance series The Future Women of Azania, first conceived in 2010. Other recent performances of The Elder of Azania were included in the Johannesburg Pavilion during the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in Italy All The World’s Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor in 2015 and Public Intimacy, Yerba Buena Centre/SFMOMA, San Francisco in 2014. In 2016, Ruga was commissioned to do a performance piece entitled Over the Rainbow for the Performa Gala in New York. Other solo exhibitions include: Athi-Patra Ruga, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida, USA (2016); A Land without a People… for a People without a Land, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc Gallery, Paris (2015) and a tapestry commission and exhibition for Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton (2014).