Life and Land is an exhibition by Nhlanhla Nhlapo and Setlamorago Mashilo running at Mmarthouse in Craighall until 8 November.
There is a persistent invitation in this collection for us to reflect on the possibilities of how the conversations about land and its implications can be understood better when we shift our perspective; from it being just as a political site to one that is composed as a ritual of self-reflection that evokes an even deeper connection with land where we can see it as an entity that will eventually decide ours and its own fate.
In his work, Nhlapo consistently invites us to engage the black subject in ways that encourage us to extend our emotional and imaginative engagement, to recognize personal and collective political issues that black people are constantly confronted with – the psychic trauma and transformation of a [post-] nation.
The life that occupies this land is also reflected on through pictorial genealogies, endless narratives about lives outside of our own. How other people exercise their democratic freedom and the ways in which they are limited thereof.
Through these personal stories, we are able to map out the significance of the relationship between self and land.
Mashilo invites us to reflect on the possibilities of how land can be and is a very critical space where the dehumanized aspect of the self can be rehabilitated and the integrity of nations can be claimed back and affirmed.
This exhibition pays homage to a master whose body of work has carried this narrative and influenced the careers of these established artists.
With this exhibition Nhlapo and Mashilo take the opportunity to recognise Johannes Phokela as an icon of South African Art.
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