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Festival 2018

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Oct 27 -
Nov 15 2018

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Genesis

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'Men of Livingstone' is a brief recount of the men that ventured with Livingstone into unexplored territories in central Africa. They included other Europeans who sought similar adventures and the porters and guideswho bore the weight oftheir supplies. Slaves freed from Arab slave tradersalso joinedthe Livingstone party and would later provide testimony to his character, recounting how Livingstone saved them during his expeditions inland. They would describe his courteousness, kindness and an inflexible determination in his faith and purpose, and lastly his abilities as a leader of men and liberator.

 

It is also in this recount and testimony that we understand Livingstone's guiding principles which   he foresaw as shaping the destiny of a continent, in particular central Africa. This is evident in his notion that Christianity and commerce were inseparable and by introducing them to the inlands his hope was to substitute slavery with Christianity and commerce, thus bringing about the civilization of Africans who lived in the darkness of paganism and savagery. This was his burden to carry, as some recounted - the white man’s burden. With Bible in hand,he saw his role as a shepherd, leading the African people into the light. As he fondly remembered, “this continent must be civilized from within outward.”

 

These expeditions would change the trajectory of the social and economic foundations of the inlands he explored. Leaving behind civilized vantage points from which to regenerate a continent, he envisioned a new colonial future that would flourish from the marriage of missionary gospel and commercial enterprise.

 

This series of photographs derives its departure from the stone reliefs that commemorate Livingstone’s expeditions, titled ‘Truth, Expounding the Gospel’; ‘Mercy, Freeing a Slave Gang’; and ‘Faith, Conflict with Superstition’. What is noticeable from the narrative of 'Men of Livingstone' is the pervasiveness of a singular perspective of history and patriarchal redemption of a continent and its people - one that denies the history of the territories he explored. The series attempts to disrupt the kind of colonial future narrative preached and envisioned by Livingstone, and overturns his gospel with an alternative narrative, imagining an Afro-future Livingstone could never have foreseen.

 

The nation state is viewed as a colonial instrument, symbolic of the colonial future which continues to be our present. The struggle against minority rule and racial segregation was a process of decolonization, so we cannot decolonize again in the post-colony. The first goal of independence and self-reliance was not achieved, secondly the colonial nation state succeeded in its program of culturally and physically disarming the colonized, removing them from their land and communities, effectively erasing their connection to the past. This same tactics of violence continues to be employed by the new nation state. Toimagine an alternative future requires radically different thinking. One such approach would be to rearm the colonized with useable pasts. Useable pasts are crucial because they become the trans-generational meeting point for one to begin to consider an alternative Afro-future.

BIO

Kudzanai Chiurai was born in 1981 in Harare,Zimbabwe where he currently lives and works. His work is focused on tracing the trajectory of political, economic and social conditions in his homelandfrom colonialism and independence, to the present day.

Chiurai completed a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of Pretoria (2005) and remained resident in South Africa for several years where he held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery, accompanied by publications he co-edited with leading African creatives. Notable international exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited curated by Simon Njami at Museum fürModerneKunst, Frankfurt(2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015);Impressions from South Africa, 1965 toNow at the Museum of Modern Art in New York(2011), which acquired Chiurai’s work for their collection; andFigures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London(2011). His Conflict Resolution series was included in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel in 2012, and his film Iyeza was included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. He was awarded the FNB Artist of the Year prize in South Africa (2012).

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