STEVENSON, Johannesburg, South Africa
18 Sep 2014 - 31 Oct 2014
STEVENSON JOHANNESBURG presents a solo exhibition by Samson Kambalu, a Malawi-born artist now based in London.
Kambalu’s Sepia Rain is a series of short films, each no more than a minute, shot during his travels in Europe where he has made England his home. The films, which he calls ‘Psychogeographical Nyau Cinema’, are based on spontaneous site-specific performances. Inspired by the Gule Wamkulu (the Great Play) which has been celebrated by the Chewa in the masquerade culture of his country of birth, Kambalu approaches film making as an occasion for critical thought and sovereign activities – quirky, playful and often transgressive acts aimed at expressing a radical subjectivity with which the artist regards the world. Nyau cinema employs the medium of film and the psychology and geography of urban areas and their vicinities as catalysts for dramatic self-transformation where the self is playfully reconceived as part of a larger scheme of things, transcending the limitations and conventions of everyday life. ‘Nyau’ is a Chewa word for ‘excess’.
Sepia Rain presents Kambalu’s filmic self-reconceptions within social, political, economic, and scientific phenomena of the wider world in an age of globalisation. In these works the artist draws on references from early film-making experiments, catastrophic histories of the 20th Century, questions of the environment, technology, and modern art.
Born in Malawi in 1975, Kambalu studied Fine Art and Ethnomusicology at the University of Malawi, and has an MA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University. He is currently completing a practice-led PhD in Fine Art looking at the general economy in Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art at Chelsea College of Art in London. Kambalu has recently won research fellowships based on his film interests with Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution. He has shown his work around the world, including Tokyo International Art Festival (2009), Liverpool Biennale and recently Dakar Biennale. Kambalu is an author of two award winning artist novels – a memoir The Jive Talker or How to Get a British Passport and Uccello’s Vineyard a fictive narrative of modern art set in the Middle Ages.
Last year Kambalu wrote the ten rules of Nyau:
Nyau Cinema: Ten Rules
1. Nyau film must be conceived as a clip no longer than a minute.
2. Performance should be spontaneous and site/specific to found architecture, landscape, or object.
3. There must always be a conversation between performance and the medium of film.
5. Costume must be from everyday life.
6. Acting must be subtle but otherworldly, transgressive, and playful.
7. Editing must be limited to the aesthetics of primitive film and silent cinema.
8. Audio must be used sparingly, otherwise it must be performed live at film screenings.
9. Screening of a Nyau film must be in specially designed cinema booths or improvised cinema installations that complement the spirit of the films.
10. Nyau cinema must encourage active participation from audience.
– Samson Kambalu 26.8.13
Kambalu will exhibit concurrently with Mame-Diarra Niang.