Stephen Gara’anga Visual Art
In the modern communal world where numbers do matter, going it alone is not an option. Giving an ear and joining forces seem to well compliment the bigger picture. The current “ZigZagZim Exhibition” which opened recently at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare is a pleasurable threesome project that emanated from the good spirit of collaboration.
Zimbabwe’s Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2013 which impacted as if it had been there since the inception of the event but was only in its second time around had New York gallerist Catinca Tabacaru visiting our country’s pavilion and enjoyed what she saw before exchanging notes with its widely travelled and knowledgeable curator Raphael Chikukwa.
Upon returning to Venice for the 56th edition of the International Biennale of 2015, Catinca Tabacaru was taken by Zimbabwe’s representation and conversed with the curator Chikukwa whom she had met in-between at other international art platforms about a possibility for her gallery’s collaboration with Zimbabwean artists.
Ideas developed, introduction and contacts with Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions (DAI), an arts and culture resource centre were made. A collaborative international exchange residency programme with Catinca Tabacaru Gallery (CTG) Artists was born at Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions in 2015. A practitioner each from New York, Israel, Belgium and Surinam visited and together with ten local artists joined forces to defy the norms, challenging various traditional means and limits within boundaries for almost four weeks. The resultant work was celebrated on August 15 2015 through an amazing exhibition at Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions’ Gallery.
The work was taken to New York for extravaganzas at Catinca Tabacaru Gallery and is now back home at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in transit to other overseas destinations.
During the opening ceremony at the National Gallery the importance of collaborating and networking was highly emphasised as ways for exposure and opportunity by the trio behind the project, Catinca Tabacaru, Chikonzero Chazunguza, artist and founder of Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions and Rapheal Chikukwa the chief curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe before the participants and a remarkable audience.
Cantinca elaborated on Dzimbanhete’s welcoming equating it to family and their wonderful accommodation at their under construction All Africa Village in the Somerby farming community next to the Sake World along the Harare-Bulawayo highway.
Dzimbanhete has the adequate space and professional expertise to host international art workshops and residences. Chikonzero greatly appreciated the National Gallery’s trust in what they do to engage them for the project and highlighted how Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions functions as a cultural centre.
The work in the show narrated highly experimental processes with various collaborations between artists who included Justin Steiner from New York, the US, Rachel Monosov from Belgium, Xeviar Robles de Medina from Surinam and local practitioners Sabina Mutsvati, Franklin Dzingai, Wallen Mapondera, Gareth Nyandoro, Moffat Takadiwa, Masimba Hwati, Option Nyahunzvi, Terrence Musekiwa, Mavis Tauzeni and Admire Kamudzengerere.
Meanwhile, at Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions where the visiting “ZigZagZim” project artists were accommodated, the construction of the all Africa Village of permanency for the Festival of Afrikan Arts Culture has taken shape with completion of a number of countries’ huts using their very traditional methods of the construction.
A lot of research by Dzimbanhete has placed every detail to the fore and what is needed now the most is assistance to obtain the necessary materials. Some members of the Somerby farming community are giving a hand to see the project through by assisting in the construction and sourcing of the readily available materials.
Dzimbanhete is aiming at completing the construction of all the 54 sub-villages with each sub-village consisting of an average of two structures resembling architectural types found in each respective country.
While the villages will work out as platforms for cultural and artistic displays, this festival will also feature onstage performances both on the main and subsidiary venues. The launch of this festival will mark the establishment of the all Africa Village, an entity whose benefits to the country will be multi-fold.
Dzimbanhete envisage this village creating a platform for a socio-economic progression and common cultural understanding on the continent while commanding educational, cultural and recreational attention year in-year-out, attracting lots of traffic and enhancing the tourism industry in a very big way. The activities that will follow the successful establishment of this African Village will encourage inter-cultural interactions and appreciation among Africans, increase discourse and appreciation of African cultural values and knowledge systems.
The village as an entity will remain a platform for many other cultural activities which DAI is already programming for this year and beyond.
Some of the major activities will include; embassies being invited to hold their national days at their respective villages, cultural residency programmes whereby cultural practitioners will be invited from various African countries to stay at their respective villages for a substantial number of days while sharing their ways, showcasing their food, attire, crafts, stories and all that matters to them as a people.
Special programmes will be run for days such as Africa Day, Day of the African Child, Culture Week, etc. Cultural camps for children will be designed and held at villages.
These events will create constant employment for the local communities and benefit thousands people per year, thus complimenting the Zim-Asset programme. The interactions with other cultures will for sure positively impact on our local approach to rural architecture, diet, attire, value systems and even use of our own languages.
Special programmes will be run for days such as Africa Day, Day of the African Child, Culture Week, etc.