By Gugulethu Ntombela.
As XOnians, we took a trip to Zeitz MOCAA and had a blast. Zeitz MOCAA is located in Green Point, Cape Town and is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first century art from Africa and its Diaspora. We wandered through the halls of the museum, overwhelmed by the beauty and intricacies of all of the pieces on display. We ended the night off with a lovely dinner and dessert, and ate while a live band played upbeat World music.
When we got there, the line to the entrance was so long. A lot of people were ready to explore and experience the art inside. Great treasures lay beyond these glass doors. All of the featured artists who created the artworks inside the museum are from Africa and the Diaspora.
One of the first pieces in the exhibits that caught my eye was the work of Athi-Patra Ruga. The piece is entitled Umesiyakazi in Waiting. Athi-Patra Ruga was born in Umtata, South Africa. Ruga’s imagery draws from a range of cultural references that are not bound by a specific biology, ancestral origin or geographical location.
Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 and has been living in Johannesburg since the 1970s. His artwork gave me the chills and creeps in the most intriguing way. During the late 60s and early 70s, he attended the University of California, Berkeley. This is where he was exposed to the anti-psychiatry movement led by R.D. Laing, the theatre of the absurd, and the work of colourfield artists like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.
This piece by Kudzanai Chiurai in collaboration with fashion designer Marianne Fassier resonated with me deeply. It elegantly portrays the pain and violence that women as mothers and healers endure. The excerpt on the wall behind the piece states that “She is suspended between dying and presence. She is soaked in violence. In a pool of blood, she sits unafraid, absorbing the pain that touches us all.” It is a sight to behold.
The images in this collection struck me as a breathtaking display of isolation and confinement. Mouna Harray was born in Sfax, Tunisia. The figure wrapped in a white sheet that occupies space in arid and volatile landscapes can be seen throughout the exhibition. The fact that we can see the pressure points of the limbs gives the impression of struggle. The figure represents the isolation, confinement and claustrophobic condition of the residents of southern Tunisia, a region once rich in minerals.
Richard Mudariki’s The Passover reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. I recognised the political and religious leaders at once and was immediately drawn to it. I found the piece to be delectably funny. This is satire at work. The fact that it reminded me of da Vinci’s famous mural was not a coincidence. Richard Mudariki was born in Seke, Zimbabwe, and currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. His artwork provides commentary on the socio-political environment of Zimbabwe and beyond.
Our trip to Zeitz MOCAA was a blast! We contemplated all of the messages we received from the various artists’ work. I learned that Africa and the Diaspora is teeming with talent and skill. I would definitely recommend the Zeitz MOCAA to any art enthusiast, and even for any curious soul.