Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Athi Mongezeleli Joja

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Alfredo Jaar’s Show


After all colonization was essentially based on the art of seeing – of seeing the other through the perspective or gaze of the western world. Or fixing the observed other in a frame or lens like photographer or a hunter tracing a wild thing through the pistol’s lens.

Athi Mongezeleli looks back on two controversial exhibitions of Alfreda Jaar in Johannesburg.
Frantz Fanon Tribute, 2016 (photo David Mann).

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From the Cape Town Art Fair to #theopening


In fact arts’ own capacity for re-composition and self-realization is contingent on its ability to change the world. This utilitarian trait of art isn’t something forced upon it since art can choose otherwise. Art autonomy therefore is possible only when art chooses the path consistent with the agenda of constructing a revolutionary situation and subjectivity. Thami Mnyele Lives!

Concludes Athi Mongezeleli Joja
Installation view, Cape Town Art Fair.

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New work of Zanele Muholi


Her endeavor at writing with light or rather writing herself into being, being black, blacks out in the face of her existential predicament. Instead of offering a critical reflection on negrophobia, Muholi’s game of parody gets entangled in negrophilia. This isn’t to disavow the potentiality of subversion, but to note the risky slippage of it subsidizing the already existing white jouissance. From this point of view, activism meets stasis.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja on the new photoworks of Zanele Muholi.
Somnyama Ngonyama 2, Oslo, 2015

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Young, Gifted and Black

Omar Victor Diop Omar Ibn Said 2015

And although ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ remains undoubtedly progressive and beautiful even, it seems apt to recall that white supremacy doesn’t retreat from violence by uncovering its ignorance or even jumpstarting its conscience by colorful cultural promptings. Maybe, this time, we need to stop seeking refuge in an anti-black world and sing about the revolution that seeks to end it, as Nina did. Perhaps that is where it really is at.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja on the exhibition the American artist Hank Willis Thomas curated in Johannesburg.
Omar Victor Diop, Omar Ibn Said, 2015.

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Anton Kannemeyer


Insulated in the bubble, Kannemeyer does not see the causal connection between ruling party’s political compromise and his own sanctuary. That his paint runs dry on this matter isn’t an accidental omission, but a typical white attitude.

South African critic Athi Mongezeleli Joja on the last exhibition of Anton Kannemeyer.
K is for Kissing, 2015.

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