28.4.11

Art, magic and omission

Having being to Museum of Contemporary Art’s (Kiasma) ARS11exhibit, I have been left pondering the absence of magic and witchcraft in its exhibit.

After reading about the goings on in Mansa and the alleged transfiguration of a man to goat in Nigeria, I wonder why the theme of the supernatural was almost completely absent in an exhibit about contemporary Africa, barring one item by Ardmore arts of South Africa.

The ARS exhibit brought the works of thirty artists linked to Africa (not necessarily African) and sharing the themes of migration, environment and urban life.

Sorcery and the supernatural pervade the lives of many people of sub-Saharan Africa. The rioting in Mansa reminded me that many Zambians have an unquestioning belief in the supernatural regardless of their religion. For them the dismembering of corpses to create wealth and transmogrification is possible in the temporal realm and therefore their fear that led to mass rioting and looting was justified.
 
Several of the images at ARS alluded to witchcraft – I have written before on Nandipha Mntambo work. Her installations, claimed in the brochure to be “loaded with masculine power” alluded to the supernatural with their blend of human and beast.

Many other images could be interpreted as portraying or alluding to magic, but except in the artwork referring to HIV and AIDS it was not identified in its own right. Magic is integral to many people’s everyday life – thankfully not mine, it is interesting that a portrayal of contemporary Africa could omit it. 


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