Cape Town Art Fair | Special Project | 2016

MASIMBA HWATI

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EXHIBITION TEXT

Cape Town, South Africa

19.02.16 – 21.02.16

Masimba Hwati | Don’t Worry Be Happy

For this project I shall present a few Neo-Tribal masks. These masks suggest the notion of the “Transformation of Knowledge”. How indigenous knowledge systems are transformed on coming into contact with new bodies of knowledge, new platforms and ways of expression in a fast changing world. The mask is recognized as a reference for a pseudo or alternative identity, suggesting that everything is not always as it seems. Also included in this series, are sculptural wall-hangingings that blur the line between the traditional ‘African’ and a contemporary occidental aesthetic achieved through a playful re-thinking of object use.

In a space measuring 3m by 1,5m I will present an installation the lends it’s title to my booth; don’t worry, be happy. The installation includes a table with a length of two meters, on one width of this table, wheelbarrow handles will be fixed, and on the other the wheel. On the table, I will place a terracotta ‘whistling’ choir.

The idea is that this choir is whistling the famous 1988 hit melody; “Don’t Worry, be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. The tune cannot be physically heard but on referral to the title the viewer is challenged to recall, and ‘play’ the tune. Reference to this melody is made to assist viewers in engendering a much-less frantic, and more calm a head-space. This more tranquil approach allows for both intro and retrospection around the issue of Africa’s relationship to the rest of the world. The concept of the wheelbarrow-table suggests the absurdity of definition, containment and homogenization of the African continent, space and culture.

A wheelbarrow, usually an inert instrument, moves only by external force. This is the most common approach towards “Africa” in most international policies and general interaction with the African Continent, best illustrated by the idea of ‘AID TO AFRICA’ and other cases of pseudo-altruistic relief models designed for the African continent, space and culture.

In direct contrast, but ironically conjoined, is the table; an object most often used as a platform for consumption, communion and dialogue. The sand invites a sensory environment of absurdity and impossibly for externally generated movement of the wheelbarrow element. The sand also provides a sinking or ‘stuck’ sensation for the functional dialogue and communion table.

Masimba Hwati was the recent winner of the Cape Town Art Fair’s Special Projects Section: Tomorrows/Today (2016).

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