Montague Contemporary, New York, United States 15 Apr 2021 - 22 May 2021
Epheas Maposa, “When I Blink”(Detail), 2021, Oil on Canvas, 141 x 90 cm, courtesy of the artist.
Montague Contemporary presents the group show “Collective Amnesia,” featuring new works from Bouvy Enkobo (DRC/France) and Epheas Maposa (Zimbabwe).
History is said to repeat itself. The human condition often demands we are quick to forgive and forget. Our collective amnesia is the most reliable by product of our existence – whether certain historical events are erased from the history books due to the political manipulation of memory, whether increased globalization entices us into a new realm of desire and commercialized demand, whether our old stories and folklore become less relevant and discarded, or whether our memories are often too painful to live with everyday.
“Collective Amnesia” asks the viewer to pause and consider this ever present rehearsal in our lives. To take stock of our own histories, of our familial, societal, cultural norms and our folklore – to bring to bear these individual stories in the face of a sweeping tide that aims to wash away our collective experience and repackage it down the road as something totally foreign yet oddly familiar.
Epheas Maposa’s works confront our forced amnesia through globalization and the homogenization of our cultural norms. His canvases manifest this tustle between the West and Zimbabwean artistic sensibilities, imbued with folklore, resistance, and a discovery of the self. His works use the human form as the theater where this drama plays out – his dreamlike bodies blend different worlds and draw attention to how our collective amnesia erases, distorts, compels the individual. The cycle of regeneration and rebirth is both restorative and destructive for Epheas. For instance, we see in his self portrait his green skin – calling attention to the primordial life lines we all rely on for our existence (e.g. our environment) in these dark times where we are being forced to rethink our survival.
Bouvy Enkobo’s works call attention to a similar conflict, juxtaposing the role of traditional African folklore with the impact of Western idealism. His unique brand of collage highlights the ephemeral nature of behavori change campaigns driven by NGO’s, multi-national corporations, and global marketing firms on the psyche of Congolese society. In his works, he portrays the remnants of these campaigns as a backdrop (in the same way these ad campaigns are plastered all over cityscapes) to the hierarchical “rule of law,” the traditional, the local. For instance, we see in “Maternite Luba” a pregnant woman in situ with Luba traditional fertility dolls in the foreground, against the decaying signs from Western aid organizations profering advice on neo-natal vitamins, modern methods of child care, and how to optimize nutrition. We are left to wonder which influence will persevere – the traditional folklore, the Western viewpoint, or some combination of the two?
“Collective Amnesia” opens on April 15 and runs through May 22. The gallery is open to the public Thursday – Saturday by appointment only given the current pandemic.