Visual artist challenges remnants of colonialism
Digging through one’s trash can easily point out to their lifestyle, diet and what they value most.
Moffat Takadiwa, a celebrated visual artists of world acclaim whose work has been shown in revered museums across the globe, digs through the refuse from Zimbabwean households and notices how the country is still hung up on colonial consumables even over four decades after independence.
He will share in its vastness, the remnants of colonialism the country still endures in an exhibition titled “Vestiges of Colonialism” which will open at National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) tomorrow evening.
This will be Takadiwa’s first solo show at the giant art institute, having already conquered the world with his work.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Herald Arts, Takadiwa said the show touched on the colonial hangover in Africa.
“I’m tracing the residue of the colonial administration in Zimbabwe in particular and addressing it through everyday objects we use in our communities, in our country and continent,” he said. “The objects are much of the consumable goods.
“My tracing normally takes me to the dump-sites where I pick most of the objects which I use, weave and fabricate into the artworks that I will be showing in the exhibition.”
Takadiwa said the found objects spoke of lack of economic independence.
“These objects speak to lack of economic independence in African countries even after gaining political independence from colonial rule,” he said.
“For most of us born after independence, we expected that by now a lot of things would have changed from how our countries used to be subjected to colonial masters, but the game is still on.
“A lot of things need to change in Africa; in the way African governments do business and in the way the populace looks at things.”
Takadiwa said his exhibition also challenges sculpture as is defined by “colonial masters’.
“I’m a sculptor and I will be occupying the National Gallery of Zimbabwe which is also a colonial structure, which gave birth to a cultural medium which is known as the Shona stone sculpture,” he said.
“This medium has seen a lot of stone curvers being recognised internationally but also being perpetuated by a kind of colonial agenda and detection of what is expected from an artist in Africa; in the storyline, and themes in most of their work.
“As a contemporary young Zimbabwean sculptor, my show is also challenging a lot of notions when it comes to what is sculpture and what can be sculpture.”
Takadiwa said he will bring in installations of different objects like toothbrushes, vegetables, cassettes and wall hanging tapestries weaved using his own reference of weaving to redefine what can be termed a medium of communication or art.
He is not oblivious to the fact that the value of his work has greatly risen, especially after earning international recognition.
Takadiwa said it was much more important for the local audience to interact with his work as opposed to some collectors who buy and lock it away.
“This is my homecoming exhibition, so its about my Zimbabwean audience having an opportunity and chance to engage my work,” he said. “This means me primarily talking to the people who matters most to this work as at the centre of my practice I talk about Zimbabwean life and Zimbabweans.
“This is that show I’m communicating to the people at the centre of my practice.”
Takadiwa said he had in the last decade been active in working with various young artists through spaces such as First Floor Gallery Harare.
“I wasn’t active that much in terms of exhibiting in Zimbabwe,” he said. “I haven’t done any solo shows with the National Gallery; this is going to be my first show.
“This can be questionable, and this speaks not only to my practice but to many Zimbabwean artists who are not maybe being noticed by this institution or who were not shown at their flagship gallery.
“I hope my show there will give hope to a lot of other Zimbabwean artistes that this is our space and we need to be seen in our own country and celebrated in our own country besides our international success.”
Takadiwa’s career highlights include exhibiting in museums in New York, Denmark, France, Ghana and South Africa.
He made headlines for his art piece “Tengwe Farms” which was bought by multi award-winning American rapper Jay-z for an undisclosed amount of money and is part of a permanent collection on display at Def Jam records.
“Vestiges of Colonialism” was curated by Fadzai Muchemwa.