Marta Moriarty


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Endabeni. Mohau Modisakeng - 1/1

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Mohau Modisakeng


20 de Enero 2018 - 19 de Marzo 2018


Mohau Modisakeng (b.1985, Soweto, Johannesburg, SA) lives and works between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

This year 2017 has been one of the two artists who participated in the South African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. He has also participated in Performa 2017, New York. In 2016 he received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art, one of the most prestigious awards in Africa. His work has been exhibited at Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2015) MoCADA, New York (2015) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2014); 21C Museum, Kentucky, Massachusetts (2014) IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2014) Saatchi Gallery, London (2012) and Dak'Art Biennale, Dakar (2012), among others.

The work of Mohau Modisakeng reflects on the sociopolitical and economic inheritance of the colonialism and Apartheid that remains rooted in the current South Africa. He condemns the perpetual segregation and how the lives of most South Africans have not changed, because the economic resources remain under the control of a small minority. He frequently uses in his performances and in his audiovisual work, his own body and a powerful and very poetic aesthetics that make his work unique. The aesthetic content of Modisakeng's work is what gives his body of work its unmistakable personality. He uses an extraordinary symbolic language of extreme beauty, to sustain the conceptual content of each of his projects.

Endabeni includes a photographic series and a video, of which we have on show a self-portrait of Modisakeng immersed in an oneiric scenario, surrounded by coal, by darkness. This scenario is located in a coal mine, few kilometers far from Cape Town, a place that represents mining as an extractive and exploitation industry. However, as a conceptual setting the artist could have chosen any other mine, another place, a mine of platinum, gold or diamonds. Nevertheless, as an aesthetic element, this coal mine is a surreal landscape, whose plasticity Modisakeng is using to work the symbolic through the essential strength of the chosen place.

In the image, Modisakeng wears a black felt hat, characteristic of migrant workers who arrived in Johannesburg from South Africa’s rural areas during Apartheid. He also wears a large white leather apron and horse blinders, also whites, adapted to his head, which prevent him from looking backward, symbolizing blindness and the inability to openly look at the past and to history, not only the personal one, but to the collective losses and traumas.

This exhibition, the third in MartaMoriarty - Art Window, reflects on the relations of the South African collective history and on the personal history of an artist who grew up at the time of the transition to the liberation of his country. It was a convulsive and violent period, in which the artist himself lost his older brother, a fact that, as the artist himself recognizes, was perhaps his starting point in his journey as an artist. As in the previous exhibition by Kemnag Wa Lehulere, the artist establishes an indissoluble dialogue between individual and collective matters, while denouncing the colonial heritage that still weighs on South Africa. Nevertheless, Modisakeng has his personal lexicon, and in Endabeni he shows his own language of symbolism, of magic and ritual. The artist manages to contain the collective experience in an action and to pass a subjective experience on, using his body and his aesthetics.