Iziko Museums of South Africa will host an exhibition by the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Arts 2016: Mohau Modisakeng. The show titled “LEFA LA NTATE” will open at the Iziko South Africa National Gallery on 20 October 2016.
In Modisakeng’s work the personal is political. Informed by his experience as a young boy in Soweto at the cross roads of a violent political transition, Modisakeng uses memory as a portal between past and present to explore themes of history, body and place within the post-apartheid context. His photography, films, performance and installation grapple with the conflicting politics of leadership and nationhood, whilst also attempting to unpack the legacy of inequality, capital, labour and extraction of mineral wealth in contemporary South Africa.
“LEFA LA NTATE” represents a poignant moment of grieving, catharsis and critical response to the historical legacy of exploitation and current lived experience of many black South Africans. Through his work, Modisakeng critically engages with the complex mechanisms of violence, power and subjugation as propagated and to some extent internalized through the course of the successive colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid regimes.
Hauntingly evoked through Modisakeng’s signature crystalline imagery, impressions of memory and experience are exhaled like a breath captured in film and photography.
Modisakeng uses a personal lexicon of ritual and symbolism in which his physical form becomes both a vessel and a signifier. His use of his own body is a significant shift away from the problematic depiction of the other and is a gesture of self-actualization and acknowledgment of subjective experience.
The Young Artist Awards were started in 1981 by the National Arts Festival to acknowledge emerging, relatively young South African artists who have displayed an outstanding talent in their artistic endeavours. These prestigious awards have been sponsored by Standard Bank since 1984 and support the exhibition component as well as offering a cash prize for the winners. “LEFA LA NTATE” premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2016.