When giant trees fall, they rise in Mondli Kunene’s Art
Our birth is the rebirth of the people who lived before we did. We see this in art, dance to it in song and recite it in poetry.
Visual artist and educator Mondli Kunene (MONDLIART) does not want us to forget those who came before us. How do we know this? We know this because he pays homage to the giant trees that fell. What he exhibits and shares with us are lessons that although we fall, it is through our legacies that we rise. It teaches us that we are because of others. It is an archival documentation of the people who live through us, whether or not we are consciously aware of it.
The artwork through which revolutionaries rise
A work created in 2016 by Kunene on his birthday is proof of what we stated in the first sentence of this piece. Our birth is the rebirth of the people who lived before we did. On the same day he was born, decades later, the voices of our heroins and heroes come to life. Like the sopranos and altos of a choir, we understand that these are voices singing the same song. Therefore this work is the portal through which we witness the rebirth of who he refers to as Sis’ Brenda Fassie, Bab’ Motsepe and Mkhulu Hugh Masekela amongst others.
READ THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCUMENTING WHAT GIANT TREES LEFT FOR US: http://sacreativenetwork.co.za/2021/03/revolutionary-black-womanhood-dies-and-the-children-forget/.
What song do these giant trees sing?
The heroes and heroins painted by Kunene’s artwork(s) sing the cries that are a plea for the liberation of our people. In addition, these are songs written as a response to the violent oppression of our people. From these giant trees came the sound of fighting against a regime that treated our bodies as bodies that were classified as non-human. We cannot silence this sound. We must sing this song. And we have access to its lyrics forever through Kunene’s art that documents it .
Why breathe life into the roots of these giant trees?
We cannot forget who we are and from who we come from. If we forget today, tomorrow will have no knowledge and relationship with yesterday. This is not just for us. Kunene is not just doing this for us. He is passing down the lyrics to the song of who we are to those who will come after us. It is our responsibility to continue singing. It is our duty to breathe life into what parts of the world try to kill.
Kunene answers this question beautifully. He expresses that the artwork is to raise awareness about how only a few men are acknowledged while women have fought against liberation too. It is important that we document our truths with authenticity for our kids to learn from them and be better tomorrow than we are today.
READ JOHN MEYER’S THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NELSON MANDELA: http://sacreativenetwork.co.za/2021/03/john-meyers-the-life-and-times-of-nelson-mandela/.
Enter Mondli Kunene’s archival of work here: https://www.instagram.com/mondliart/.