HARARE - A record 20 African artists will showcase their visual art works at an exhibition titled “Kabbo Ka Muwala — The Girl’s Basket Migration and Mobility in Contemporary Art in Southern and Eastern Africa” opening tomorrow at the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe (Nagz).
Deputy director and chief curator of the exhibition Raphael Chikukwa said this was a touring migration exhibition and Zimbabwe is the first venue where it will be exhibited and later it will travel to Uganda at the Makerere Art Gallery Kampala then migrate to Germany, at the Städtische Galerie Bremen.
Chikukwa said while there has been a number of African exhibitions conceived in Europe which ended there without their African audiences seeing them, this exhibition returns the gaze — the result being a collaborative project with the aforementioned three institutions.
The chief curator said the 20 participating artists were here to highlight migration and mobility issues that also affect other global citizens.
Chikukwa said African people have gone through forced migration since the slavery era to the present, adding that the current migration challenges in Europe have hit a record high and the slavery forced migration remains an issue compared to the current record.
The Daily News spoke to Chikukwa about the exhibition and below are some excerpts of the interview.
MS: What kind of an exhibition is this and why is it important today?
RC: Kabbo Ka Muwala — The Girl’s Basket Migration and Mobility in Contemporary Art in Southern and Eastern Africa is an important exhibition in today’s world because it is tackling migration issues that are very topical from yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The current issues in Europe and the mobility of artists and their artworks has remained a thorny issue, especially those who are African.
MS: What is the exhibition’s theme, what are the artists trying to tell the world?
RC: The exhibition theme is migration and mobility and the artists are exploring the exhibition theme from their own perspectives. Some of these artists are living and working in the diaspora while others are working and practicing in Africa.
They are telling the world their perspective on this topical issue and also telling the world that as African artists they are not limited to African issues but also to the global discourse.
This is a huge exhibition and most of the works on the show are video works and photography.
As a gallery, this is a huge exhibition of multi-media works.
Challenging our audiences for we have one installation in the exhibition and we have two Zimbabwean artists who are showing in Zimbabwe for the first time — Kudzanai Chiurayi and Gerald Machona.
MS: How did the idea come about?
RC: Zimbabwe has become a big player in international exhibitions and Kabbo Ka Muwala was conceived by these three partners and funded by Turn Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and supported by our local partners that include British Council, UNHCR, UNWomen, and Zimbabwe Germany Society.
MS: How many artists from Zimbabwe are exhibiting?
RC: There are three Zimbabwean artists on the show and these are, Berry Bickle, Kudzanai Chiurai and Gerald Machona.
MS: Apart from the exhibition, what else will be on show? Any discussions, performances and who will be the guest at the official opening?
RC: Our public programme is going on throughout the exhibition, starting with Harare Conversations on February 5 where artists will talk about their works, moderated by the three curators, an amateur and master class video art workshop at the end of that month.
There will be a two day forum celebrating the international women’s day supported by UNWomen, British Council, Zim/Germany Society and UNHCR.
Some of the topics to be discussed at the forum include statelessness, women and migration, xenophobia, human and child trafficking, role played by migrants in developing nations, the role played by cross-border traders, Diaspora experiences etc.
MS: How has been the response from other curators on this exhibition concept; what is the feedback from other stake holders?
RC: We will get the feed-back soon after the exhibition but so far many of them are saying these are topical issues and the fact that it’s a migration exhibition starting in Africa is a great idea.
They are also saying they are used to exhibitions that start in Europe and never see a light of the day in Africa.
MS: How many of the participating artists are coming to Zimbabwe?
RC: We have more than six artists from other parts of Africa coming for the opening including other gallerists like the Goodman Gallery team and new church museum curators.
MS: As the curator for the Zimbabwe exhibition what were some of the challenges in bringing and mounting this exhibition?
RC: The fact that artworks are coming from our two regions East and Southern Africa, brings in new challenges, trying to get work from other parts of Africa is very expensive and not easy but I can say, we had to be innovative and most of the work is now here.
Furthermore this is a multi-media exhibition with more than 10 video works and this will also taste our preparedness as an international destination for art.