Bold and provocative, Zimbabwean contemporary artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s work is represented in depth in the Zeitz MOCAA collection, and curator-at-large of photography Azu Nwagbogu says that in his view, Chiurai’s show is a must-see when visiting the museum for the first time. A mid-career retrospective that includes work in multiple mediums and explores the feminist ideas that are expressed in the artist’s work, the show is entitled Regarding the Ease of Others.
An especially visually rich section of Regarding the Ease of Others is made up of Chiurai’s more recent work, starting with his ‘Dying to be Men’ (2009) and ‘Revelations’ (2011) series of photographic works. The complex and multi-layered ‘Revelations’ pieces, as the artist puts it, ‘explore the way in which Africa is imagined and understood in the West as well as questioning the contemporary African condition’ and they are sure to fascinate visitors to the Zeitz MOCAA – as well as stimulate a few conversations about our current political situation in South Africa and on the continent more generally.
The same goes for the wide-ranging collection of the artist’s politically barbed Posters lithographs that form a further part of the show. And Chiurai originally trained as a painter, Nwagbogu notes, so a selection of his early work (including paintings and drawings) also forms part of the exhibition.
The curator of Regarding the Ease of Others, Azu Nwagbogu, was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where he currently lives and works. He’s the director of non-profit organisation the African Artists Foundation as well as the founder of Lagos Photo, an annual photography festival, and the director of Art Base Africa, a digital showcase of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.
As curator-at-large of photography in the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography at the Zeitz MOCAA, Nwagbogu will spend time at the museum three times a year, develop one or two shows annually, negotiate travelling shows and mentor the curatorial team in the area of photography. Like Zeitz MOCAA curator Mark Coetzee, Nwagbogu feels that the museum offers an ‘opportunity to incorporate multiple voices’ and suggests that it’s vitally important that the institution ‘uses the language of contemporary art to embrace all the people rather than talking to ourselves’.
Nwagbogu notes that the Zeitz MOCAA collection already includes quite a large number of photographic works and that this focus seems appropriate when one considers that photography as a medium has served Africa well – in terms of telling its stories – and yet also damaged the continent in some ways, as it has sometimes tended to convey overwhelming narratives of conflict, hunger and suffering. This is why ‘using the same medium to represent a new view of Africa is important’, Nwagbogu suggests.
Regarding the Ease of Others is on at the Zeitz MOCAA from 22 September 2017 to 31 March 2018. Find more information about the show here.