Exploring Harare's everyday rhythms through art

Sep 19, 2017

Harare was a buzz with activity from the August 19 to 24 as German and African artists collaborated for a series of research, performances and exhibitions. The exhibition took place at the Njele Art station, and featured under the banner “That, Around Which the Universe Revolves”. It aimed to investigate the interrelation of space, time, memory, architecture and urban planning. German artists Gintersdorfer, Hauke Heumann, Knut Klaßen were part of the Harare leg of the exhibition run by the Berlin-based SAVVY Contemporary.

Enlarge image Speaking of the public’s response to the exhibition, project curator Anna Jaeger of SAVVY Contemporary said that “the reception on both days filled with performances was exceptional”.

The Harare chapter was preceded by shows in Lagos, Nigeria and the German city of Dusseldorf. It brought together visual artists, urbanists and theorists. The artists examined Harare’s historic and contemporary rhythms through performances and installations. 

The project draws its inspiration from the French Sociologist Henri Lefebvre’s concept of rhythm analysis. Lefebvre’s reflections on the politics of production and representations of spaces serve as the starting point of the research and exhibition project.

 “On both days, the artist achieved an intervention, interrogation and even interruption of the rhythms of the city…this is exactly what we wanted to talk about in this chapter,” said Jaeger.

Zimbabwean poet-musician Tinofirei Zhou used spoken word performance to investigate the modern world’s everyday realities. His compatriot artist and photographer Nancy Mteki’s exhibition entitled “Searching for Love” was a mock wedding procession that attracted a crowd of curious on-lookers. The crowd swelled, forming an entourage as the show toured the busy streets of Harare before proceeding to a municipal garden where wedding parties usually go to for photo opportunities.

Spoken word artist Tinofireyi Zhou in performance. Enlarge image Spoken word artist Tinofireyi Zhou in performance. (© iZimPhoto/JEKESAI NJIKIZANA) “What was crucial to the project was to reach out and converse with people from all walks of life - especially those whose daily routines would not necessarily lead them into an art space or gallery. Many people in the public sphere - vendors, car mechanics, housewives finishing their weekend shopping, commuter bus conductors, journalists, businessmen rushing through the city in their air-conditioned cars - stop on their way and their rhythms to engage with the performance they encountered,” said Jaeger.

The two-year long international project, which is funded by the TURN Fund from the German Federal Cultural Foundation, began in October 2016 in Lagos, Nigeria and will end in Berlin in January 2018. 

Of the many artistic showcases, a standout showing was from Zimbabwean Artist Masimba Hwati’s depiction of colonialism through his installation “Shuramatongo”. “Shuramatongo” is the Shona name for anything that causes death on a massive scale. Hwati depicted colonialism as a terminal sociocultural and political condition that cripples the life of its victims. This exhibition captured the essence of Lefebvre’s seminal analysis well. 

Other artists whose work was on display included Ivorian Gotta Depri and Zimbabwean’s Kresiah Mukwazhi, Lucia Nhamo and Lloyd Nyikadzino.

© GIC Africa

German and Zimbabwean artists in exhibition

Artists in performance.

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