Madimatle

Madimatle, the title of the exhibition is informed by a passage in the book Land in South Africa which Mohau Modisakeng (SA, 1986) read. In the book it is written that inhabitants near the mountain Madimatle deal with a current legal battle between their community and an international mining company. The battle is about granted prospecting rights to mine for iron and ore on a mountain that carries spiritual, historic and personal significance for the community.

MADIMATLE 1, 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 200 x 150 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

Sacred Ground

The mountain is said to be a sacred site that has been the place of choice for healers and believers to perform cultural and religious rituals for thousands of years. The mountain also has a network of caves where royals and notable figures in the history of the area have been buried. Madimatle is a place of healing and divination, and the threat to disturb its state has opened up a conversation around the land question and the identities various people attach to such sacred ground.

In this work Modisakeng refers to this case in order to invite audiences to consider the relationship between the body and the land, particularly in the African context where the issue of belonging have always been contentious issues that has historical led to violent conflict, from colonial conquest to ongoing ethnic battles for the control of land.

SEDIMO 2, 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 127,5 x 170 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

Available

SEDIMO 3, 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 127,5 x 170 cm

Available

MADIMATLE 2, 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 150 x 200 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

Available

The Shell

The sea shell, a strangely shaped bone of different shades of white, a symbols that represents the oceans, which for many African people represent sites of ancestral memory, ritual and healing. The ocean is also a site of trauma and loss due to the voluntary and involuntary passages of millions of African people across the oceans resulting in the loss of freedoms, life and memory or connection to home.

For traditional healers the bone of a shell represents a diviner connection to the spirit world, where through the material resonance of the shell the diviner can communicate either by placing the shell on their ear during a reading or by throwing the shell as part of a constellation of other bones.

SEDIMO 1 (Of spirits), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 170 x 127,5 cm

Available

Madimatle 13, 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 70 x 110 cm

Available

Sewing Machine

The history of the sewing machine goes back a long way, with some early uses including the stitching together of canvas for the making of sails for ships. The machine represents the colonial or imperialist expansion and the exporting of European culture and violence in order to subjugate others.

While in this series the sewing machine anchors this colonial history, set against the body of an African person it makes reference to the influence of colonialism on the social, cultural, economic and political changes that forever defined how Africans identify. Within the framework of identity politics, the arrival of colonial influence in the African context engenders changes in peoples’ material culture, personal freedoms, and belief systems thus changing the African’s sense and understanding of their own identity.

As the machines gradually found their way into the hand of local tailors they were used different purposes but mainly to make clothing such as uniforms and “traditional’ attires for landmark events in a community’s life such as weddings, rites of passage, burials and other social rituals.

DITLHALE 1 (THE THREADS), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 90 x 110 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

Available

DITLHALE 2, 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 90 x 110 cm

Available

BAGOLO (THE ELDERS), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 137,5 x 170 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

Available

The Staff

The staff represents the connection between the body and the skies, or the celestial universe. In the context of Modisakeng’s spirituality the staff refers to ancient knowledge systems and beliefs narrate though oral history, cave paintings and other material culture that the origin of mankind is in the stars and galaxies.

In southern Africa these staffs are used by religious and spiritual people for worship and performing of rituals. It is the symbolical connector, a magical wand that opens the channels between the physical world, the body and spirit. The performance of those photographs is a personal ritual of surrender and acceptance of Modisakeng’s calling.

MOYA (the spirit), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 120 x 120 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

PELO (The heart), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 120 x 120 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

DIFOFU (The blind), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 120 x 120 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

LERE (The staff), 2022 | Diasec, Pigment print on Edition Etching RAG | 120 x 120 cm

Mohau Modisakeng

About the artist

Born in Soweto, an epicentre of black urbanity and cosmopolitan culture, the multi-award winning Mohau Modisakeng (1986) 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. Material, metaphor and the black body are the tools that Modisakeng uses to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society.

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ABOUT Mohau Modisakeng

Born in 1986 in Soweto, South Africa
Lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

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 was awarded the SASOL New Signatures Award for 2011 and has exhibited at Armory Show, New York (2016); Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar (2012); Focus 11 and Basel (2011). In 2013 Modisakeng produced an ambitious new video work in association with Samsung as a special project for the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair. His work is included in public collections such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town and SAATCHI Gallery, London as well as significant private collections such as Zeitz MOCAA.

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