South London Gallery, London, United Kingdom
15 Apr 2015 - 07 Jun 2015


Courtesy of the artist

What we identify as history is shaped by a mixture of elements, frequently less bound to sanctioned facts than to other, more intangible belief systems. This inquiry stands at the core of the work of artist Kapwani Kiwanga whose practice interweaves a research-based investigation influenced by her earlier training in social sciences, with a more fictional and imaginary observation of culture.

Kapwani Kiwanga’s versatile practice takes shape through installations, video, sound and performance. For her first UK solo exhibition, she continues her research into the legacy of the 1905-1907 Maji Maji uprising against German colonial rule in what was then Tanganyika, German East Africa. The resistance was led and fuelled by the prophecies of the spiritual medium Kinjiketile, who galvanised the Maji Maji fighters against the colonial rulers with his belief in sacred water (maji) that would make them invincible to German bullets. Kiwanga uses this event, and its adaptation in folklore and popular culture, as a starting point to trace how historical accounts linger in consciousness and weigh on a nation’s identity long after their occurrence.

Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978  Hamilton, Canada. Lives Paris, France) studied Anthropology and Comparative Religions at McGill University, Canada. She has been artist-in-residence at L’Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (France); Le Fresnoy: National Contemporary Art Studio (France); MU Foundation, Eindhoven (Netherlands); Le Manège, Dakar, Senegal.

Kiwanga’s work destabilises hegemonic narratives and create spaces in which neglected, renegade and fantastic discourses flourish. Whether through performances, sound installations, or videos that utilise documentary tropes; Kiwanga’s particular fondness for oral traditions drives her continual exploration of the formal possibilities of orality.

Her film and video works have been nominated for two BAFTAs and have received awards at international film festivals. She has exhibited internationally including at Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Foundation Ricard, Paris, France; Glasgow Centre of Contemporary Art; Paris Photo; Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, Almería, Spain; and the Art Catalyst, London.

Recent and upcoming exhibitions include Jeu de Paume, Paris; Berlin Ethnographic Museum, The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris; Fondation Ricard, Paris, Salt, Istanbul, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tiwani Contemporary, London.




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