Amsterdam Art Fair
SOLO PRESENTATION | MOHAU MODISAKENG (SA, 1986) uses material, metaphor and the black body as tools to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society. The works explore 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.” (Mohau Modisakeng)
Literally translated as The Legacy of my Father or Inheritance from my Father – The photographic series Lefa La Ntate represents a poignant moment of grieving, catharsis and a critical response to the historical legacy of exploitation and current lived experience of many black South Africans.
In Lefa, Modisakeng makes specific reference to the Marikana massacre. The massacre took place in 2012 when the South African police (supposedly under instruction of one of the mine directors) opened fire on a group of miners protesting for a living at Lonmin mine in 2012. The brutal actions of the police resulted in the death of 41 miners, the families of whom are still seeking legal recourse and compensation. Modisakeng uses his body as an avatar for the slain miners and universally for labouring black bodies - literally buried by the fruits of their labour, the position of the figures evokes almost religious iconography, symbolising both sacrifice and transcendence.
In the film To Move Mountains, Modisakeng reflects on the legacy of colonialism and its effect on post-independence societies in Africa. The social, political and economic systems inherited from colonial rule have remained entrenched, with the result that the lives of most of the population, other than those of the new elites, have not changed markedly. Economic resources continue to be in control of a small minority, with the overwhelming majority of people struggling to make a living in a climate in which the odds remain stacked against them.
Modisakeng lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town in 2009 and worked towards his Masters degree at the same institution. We are delighted to announce that Mohau Modisakeng has been chosen to represent South Africa during the Venice Biennale 2017. His work is included in many public collections such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the IZIKO South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and SAATCHI Gallery in London as well as signi cant private collections such as Zeitz MOCAA. His work has also been exhibited at Dak’Art Biennale (Dakar) in 2012, Focus 11 (Basel) in 2011, and Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town) in 2010. In 2011 Modisakeng was awarded the 2011 SASOL New Signatures Award, and in 2016 he won the Standard Bank Young Artists Award.