Death ties Mexico and Africa

The Mexican city of Oaxaca de Juárez presents art from Southern Africa, linking the two regions through their common fascinations, experiences and concerns around death.

Hacer Noche (Making night) encompasses five exhibition chapters, residency programmes, talks and workshops, and includes works by William Kentridge, Zanele Muholi, Penny Siopis, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Marlene Dumas and Nicholas Hlobo, among nearly 30 other artists from the Southern part of Africa.

Co-ordinated by Francisco Berzunza, a Mexican who was formerly the cultural counsellor at the Mexican Embassy in South Africa, the three-month-long exhibition brings forth both societies’ ritual practices, histories of violence and aspects of beauty surrounding death. 

Cinga Samson, Ubuhle Beenkayezi, 2018, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and blank projects

Berzunza says that projects such as Hacer Noche allow bridges to be built between nations while generating context-specific works of art that he feels to be lacking in Mexico.

He points to the necessity of such cross-cultural connections, saying: “An exhibition like this is important when seeking to convey cosmopolitanism. It would be a shame if Oaxaca only showed art from Oaxaca and [depicted] folklore. It would become a souvenir shop.”    

Pieter Hugo, Muxe, 2018, digital print. Courtesy of the artist

By having work presented in one region, conceived by artists from another region but with the exhibition location in mind, Berzunza believes a necessary dialogue is given the opportunity to exist.

Jared Ginsburg looks forward to seeing how his oeuvre will be interpreted in a different country. He says that his stuffed fabric appendages titled ‘Legs’ was understood humorously when originally shown in Cape Town in 2013.

“Because of the change of context, and the severed body parts shown in Mexican newspapers, I’m interested to see if it will be differently received,” he says.

Portia Zvavahera, Embraced and Protected in You, 2016, oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson

Hacer Noche runs from 10 November 2018 to 5 February 2019 in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico.

Header image: William Kentridge, 30% of Life, 2018, animated film. Courtesy of the artist.    

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