Zanele Muholi & Friends Photography Exhibition at the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion

Explore the concept of ‘looking back’ at the V&A Waterfront’s new contemporary art space


The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) Pavilion is hosting the work of distinguished artists Zanele Muholi, Andrew Putter, and Yinka Shonibare from Wednesday, 23 July to Sunday, 12 October 2014.

The exhibition, entitled ‘Looking Back’showcases a range of poignant images that provocatively draws in the viewer, inviting them to be implicit in the action of viewing.

From the exhibits, we come to understand that we do not merely look at something. Instead, a relationship is established in which a process of looking back occurs. Essentially, we begin to see ourselves reflected back in that which we observe, and we realise the impossibility of the gaze’s neutrality; what we see is informed and conflicted by religious beliefs, gender, ethics, orientation, socio-economic status, superstition and even fear. We hence begin to recognise the responsibility inherent in looking – both towards the present but also at the past.

Being aware of the implications, we come to consider what opportunities we have to look in a democratic, more responsible way. Why do we gaze the way we do? What are the consequences? And can we do so in a way that does not violate something that is alien, unfamiliar or beyond our comprehension?

The works are on display at the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion, a temporary space that will later be replaced by the grand Zeitz MOCAA. The Waterfront-based museum, which is due to open its doors towards the end of 2016, is billed to be a cutting-edge cultural institution – believed to parallel the likes of the Louvre in Paris or the Metropolitan in New York.

Entry to the exhibition is absolutely free and the gallery is open between 12pm and 8pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Durban-born Zanele Muholi studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newton, Johannesburg. Since then, she has garnered acclaim both locally and abroad. She was the winner of the Casa Africa award for best female photographer and the Fine Prize for emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International. She considers herself not only an artist but a visual activist committed to addressing social injustice. Her work draws attention to issues of womanhood, sexuality, identity and LGBTI rights in the African context. She currently resides in Johannesburg.

Andrew Putter, who hails from the Mother City, has been equally successful locally and internationally. His series African Hospitality and Hottentots Holland: Flora Capensis have been exhibited at the Woodstock-based Stevenson Gallery in 2009 and 2008 respectively. He is also known for his exhibit entitled Native Work, in which he juxtaposed black and white photographs of black South Africans in traditional dress with colour photographs of the same subjects wearing garments that reflect the way they see themselves. Putter was the recipient of the 2007 Spier Contemporary award for his work Secretly I Will Love You More.

Yinka Shonibare is a London-born artist who was raised in Nigeria. His work explores issues of colonialism, race, class and identity construction through a variety of media including sculpture, painting, installation art, photography, film and performance. In 2004 he was both shortlisted for the Turner Prize and awarded the decoration of member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”.

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Check out our overview of art galleries in Cape Town to find out where else who can catch Mzansi’s top artists.
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