POWERPLAY Digital Art Exhibition opening, Bulawayo.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe and arebyte Gallery in London, are pleased to announce POWERPLAY, a group exhibition featuring artists working within digital media, moving image and technology. Co-commissioned by London-based arebyte Gallery and the National Gallery Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, with support from the New Art New Audiences grant from the British Council. The first showing of the exhibition was presented at arebyte Gallery in London,  and on Thursday 3 December, the itinerant exhibition will open in Bulawayo before traveling to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare and Mutare in 2021.   POWERPLAY will be the first exhibition of digital and new media art at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe  features work by Mr. Color, Bolatito Aderemi Ibitola, Vincent Bezuidenhout, Scumboy, King Debs, Mbakisi Sibanda, Kumbirai Makumbe, and Isaac Kariuki. Virtual Reality iteration by Christopher MacInnes.

EXHIBITION BOOKLET


Kumbirai Makumbe,  The Gate , (2020)
Kumbirai Makumbe, The Gate, (2020)

POWERPLAY foregrounds the digital arts scene in Africa and presents work by digital artists who are from or based in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the UK. Discussing the use of technology in creating a sense of identity and place within a digitised world, the artists in the exhibition look at the relationships of power experienced in varying ways. The works address isolation and alienation; societal bias around gender and race; transformation of being; the politics of borders and migration; dark markets of trade; and communities who work outside of mainstream economy. Taking place both online and offline, the multi-sited exhibition format brings to light the fluidity between the virtual and the real –  how is power asserted over our decisions and movements, what are the consequences, and how can we think about control differently?

Through newly commissioned and re-imagined work, POWERPLAY explores the nuances of working with digital media in a digitised world. The exhibition looks into the reproduction and commodification of the self, consent and surveillance online and offline, and the exploitation and censorship of data, ideas and behaviours. Through the use of existing infrastructure within the gallery and around the city, as well as the pseudo-advertisement aesthetics seen in the CGI printed works and the Virtual Reality iteration of the exhibition, the artworks proliferate and infiltrate this system to question our agency and power over surveillance and capitalism.  

King Debs,  Ritual Dance 0001,  (2018) still
King Debs, Ritual Dance 0001, (2018) still

From politicians threatening to use military or economical power as coercion, to the underlying systemic structures of bias built on the oppression of race, gender and sexuality, plays of power are prevalent throughout online and real life interactions by way of social hierarchies and the monopolising of markets.

Plays of power are also widespread in chat rooms, online community forums, and gaming worlds, often with users spreading hate speech with methods of mental manipulation to initiate formations of groups of like-minded people who are hostile to those with differing opinions.

Technology can be used as a tool to demonstrate power – from data collection by black-box algorithms to major tech companies dominating the market – the ways we converse, vocalise our opinions and integrate are becoming increasingly more digitised and therefore unstable. Technology can seem intangible and removed from a sense of personability, however it can also reinforce a sense of place and identity –  this is formalised in the exhibition through a reconnection to the physical world by challenging the traditional modes of display, and incorporating screen based works with physical ephemera, alongside a virtual reality version of the exhibition, where the work is stretched beyond its physical or material limits.

Overall, the various creative technologies, software and hardware in the exhibition are used with purpose and intent to address the tensions and consequences of producing work linked to immateriality, the individual and the collective, and the misrepresentation of words and meaning. Technology creates an interrelated mesh of connections in a global network, which is solidified in the artists’ various locations across Africa, Europe and America, but is also conceptually linked in the subtleties of each work.

Vincent Bezuidenhout,  DVDRIP  (2010-12) still
Vincent Bezuidenhout, DVDRIP (2010-12) still
Bolatito Aderemi Ibitola,  I Was Here , (2016) GIF still
Bolatito Aderemi Ibitola, I Was Here, (2016) GIF still

Bolatito Aderemi Ibitola uses GIFs as a medium to make connections between migration and desirability of space, playing on the political categorisation of the term “alien” and how the artist feels her own black body is read. This links to Isaac Kariuki who makes comparisons between the sale of (counterfeit) goods on the blackmarket to the displacement of people living outside of the mainstream economy. Here, a connection to life and living is made between online and offline connections, whereby the inside and outside of normative roles are examined through Google Maps and trading on the darkweb. 

Also questioning copyright as a tool of power is Vincent Bezuidenhout and his work DVDRIP which originated during the rise of illegal file sharing, or ‘pirating’ of movies online. In the spirit of Harun Farocki’s ‘operative images’ and aesthetically reminiscent of Glitch Art, screen captures are employed in the work in order to highlight this phenomena of the corruption of digital information. His other work Jsoc_pics consists of images appropriated from the Instagram accounts of members of Joint Special Operations Command, USA. The images are imbued with all the characteristics of traditional masculinity but the faces of the soldiers in these photographs are redacted by the artist. This act of censorship reveals elements of fear and shame often disassociated with toxic masculinity. By printing the images on the most basic elements of American consumerism (mugs, jigsaws, keychains etc), Bezuidenhout reduces the images to commodities and undermines the meaning of this kind of proliferation of the ‘selfie’ in the process.

Scum Boy,  I Can’t,  (2020) still
Scum Boy, I Can’t, (2020) still

Scumboy’s work shows avatars in various states of entrapment; both physically and mentally. Human emotion is expressed in two ways here through a writhing body unable to comprehend the situation and through positive movement in a body dancing in the acceptance of being powerless. Dance is brought into a different space with King Debs’ work whereby the power of gender and race is interrogated in a ritual performed by a woman figure through the artist’s male gaze. In the work, Lerato who is a young Tswana Queen, seen draped in a crimson and black garment, dances to appease the Bantu ancestors. The work opens and challenges the dialogue of the maltreatment of black women, who are instead celebrated in the video in the form of respect and appreciation, and poses the learning/unlearning of the male gaze to the female body.

Utilising language in the form of calligraphy, prayer and shapes is seen in both King Debs’ work and Kumbirai Makumbe who posit new ways of understanding a transcendence of the human. For Kumbirai, an unnamed protagonist talks to Eywa, an artificial intelligence, who assists in ‘ascension’ of the body into code. The work more broadly looks at a non-exclusionary to new ways of being, with an anti-hierarchical approach to interconnectedness of people, ideas, and speculations on the future of society.

Mbakisi Sibanda, ISOLATION, still (2020)
Mbakisi Sibanda, ISOLATION, still (2020)

Mbakisi Sibanda’s work portrays the feeling of being isolated online whilst also being hyper-connected; the contradiction here plays out in the form of a new video work and accompanying print identifying the dark nature of how the internet affects mental and physical health, as well as social disintegration and social anxiety. Also taking at an emotive response to power, Mr. Color’s large banner print tells the story of the creation of a new type of android, one with consciousness and sentient feelings, where energy particles formed from shared consciousness and transfer of energies between bodies. The work questions collectivity, and how positive and powerful energies can combine to create new ways of thinking.


The artists’ works will be shown as a 6 week multimedia installation in arebyte Gallery, London. Throughout the duration of the physical exhibition, interviews with the artists will be available to view on arebyte on screen (AOS), arebyte Gallery’s digital art channel, as well as a virtual tour of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo (NGZ) gallery space made using Unreal software by UK based artist Christopher MacInnes. Viewable 24/7 via a dedicated screen and Virtual Reality headset in arebyte Gallery’s window, the virtual tour will also be broadcast on dedicated monitors located in the NGZ in Harare and Mutare, as a way to further promote the artists and the exhibition. Visitors will be able to interactively explore the different works through a Virtual Reality headset allowing them to navigate the  multimedia installation originally proposed for NGZ later this year.  The Virtual Reality version of the exhibition will then travel to the NGZ in Mutare and Harare.

An A5 booklet with information on the works and the artists will be produced for visitors to arebyte Gallery and the NGZ in Bulawayo, Harare and Mutare to take with them.  

The exhibition will be part of arebyte Gallery’s 2020 programme systems which discusses the erratic interplay between global infrastructures and economics, computer and technological systems, which have become the carrier for emotional, political and ecological agendas. 

This exhibition is supported by the British Council’s New Art New Audiences grant.


Addresses:

National Gallery Zimbabwe Bulawayo: 75 Joshua Nkomo St, Bulawayo,
National Gallery Zimbabwe Harare: 20 Nyerere way/ Parklane Harare.
National Gallery Zimbabwe Mutare: 122 Third St, Mutare, Zimbabwe
arebyte Gallery: 7 Botanic Square, London City Island, E14 0LG

Team:

Nimrod Vardi – Founder and Creative Director, arebyte Gallery
Claudel Goy – Managing Director, arebyte Gallery
Rebecca Edwards – Curator, arebyte Gallery
Edward Martin – Curatorial Assistant, arebyte Gallery
Butholezwe Kgosi – Regional Director, National Gallery in Bulawayo 
Clifford Zulu – Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo 
Thabiso Mohare – Southern Africa Arts Project Manager, British Council


Artists:

King Debs is a multimedia artist based in Cape Town, South Afrika. Working primarily in 3D digital art and his self-developed calligraphy, King Debs creates a unique aesthetic to transpose his ideas on identity and Afrikanism. His work deals with the notion of post-humanism within an Afrikan context. He is  inspired by ‘trans-humanist’ ideology and the dystopian convergence of man and machine. 

Niyi Okeowo (Mr Color) is an Art Director, based in Lagos, Nigeria. Mr.Color is an ongoing personal expression inspired and influenced by Futurism, Colors, Spaces and themes of isolation and Serenity.

Kumbirai Makumbe currently takes form as a London based artist and designer who believes in the transmutation of the intangible yet experiential. They are enticed by the materiality of digitally generated matter with their work residing at the intersection of art, technology, and the ethereal.

They place significant effort into speculative explorations of alternative modes of being and thinking that could negate exclusionary acts and ideologies. Their work continually interrogates the multi-dimensionality of blackness, exclusionary acts, and notions of inclusion, ‘in-betweenness’, ‘caring’ and transcendence. They are situation-dependent, transform & metamorphose to ceaselessly take on various forms and maneuver through a diverse range of spaces.

Mbakisi Sibanda was born in 1995 in Bulawayo and is a designer by profession, having ventured into commercial design back in 2013 working for advertising and signage companies throughout his career. Sibanda also specialises in creating 3D virtual mockups and visualization.       

Isaac Kariuki is a visual artist and writer living between London and Nairobi. His work centres on technology, surveillance and internet culture as it relates to the global south and marginalised groups.  He holds an MA from Central Saint Martins with a concentration in digital art. He is the founder of Diaspora Drama, a three-part publication exploring creative people of colour with overarching themes of the internet and technology. 

Vincent Bezuidenhout is a South African born artist whose work spans image-making and investigative documentary practices. His research-based process employs narratives and histories to examine the psychology of power in relation to identity. He has been awarded grants and fellowships from The National Arts Council of South Africa, The Goethe Institut, The Tierney Fellowship, Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, School of Visual Arts – NYC and the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Residencies include the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris and Photoglobal at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Bezuidenhout holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, is a published writer, and has lectured widely.

Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola is a trans-disciplinary artist working primarily in time based art, interactivity and performance. Along with her artistic practice, Aderemi-Ibitola also works as a devised theatre practitioner, performance studies scholar and teaching artist. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, she immigrated to the United States in 2000. She returned to Nigeria in 2014 where she is now living and working. Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola earned her Masters in Performances Studies from Tisch School of the Performing Arts, New York University and a Bachelors in Communication Arts with a focus in Television/Film Production and a minor in Political Science from Allegheny College

Oliver Hunter Pohorille ( Scum Boy ) is a transgender 3D artist and motion graphic designer in Cape Town, South Africa. His work has been exhibited in various galleries around the world and he has worked with multiple artists of various disciplines. He mainly creates still renders for gallery exhibitions and prints but also has a large body of video art. His art is centered around the human form and its interaction with the world. Oliver uses the principle of 3 dimensional art to warp reality into a world of his own creation.

Christopher MacInnes is an artist based in London. Taking computing and networks as a starting point he works with software, hardware and organisms. Using the diverse vectors of our planetary networks, MacInnes attempts to trace the mycellenic tangle of chaotic phenomena across platforms, landscapes and bio-synthetic ecologies.

For more details follow the link https://www.arebyte.com/powerplay or contact us on: sabona@mweb.co.zw


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NATIONAL GALLERY BULAWAYO TO RE-OPEN 30 NOVEMBER 2020

The National Gallery in Bulawayo wishes to advise the visual arts community and members of the public that we will be re-opening on the 30th of November 2020 following an 8 months long COVID-19 induced hiatus. Since 30 March 2020, the Gallery has been closed as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. While the coronavirus continues to linger in our community, we have instituted a range of measures to protect our staff, artists and all valued stakeholders.

While closed to the public, the Gallery migrated to digital platforms to continue fulfilling its mandate of holding exhibitions of works of art and also encouraging interest in art. Of note is that we produced a virtual tour of two exhibitions that were running at the time the Gallery shutdown. Our regular Bulawayo Conversations were also conducted online.

We also dedicated the last eight months to conduct renovations. As we re-open, we are delighted to present an extensively revamped space. We now operate on a solar power system and have installed a disability ramp. The interior and exterior of the Gallery has been repainted, with new roofing and ceiling sheets mounted in sections of the Gallery. Our prime exhibition spaces have new floors and lighting system. In our quest to support the performing arts, we have erected a stage in the car park area. We express gratitude to the Embassies of Australia and Switzerland as they are the ones who made all the work possible.

As we re-open, the Gallery will present three exhibitions.

Initially meant to open in April 2020, Dreams and Realities is a group exhibition that interrogates the contemporary meanings of Zimbabwe’s independence. The mostly young artists in the exhibition give divergent interpretations of what 40 years of independence means to them. The exhibition will open on 30 November 2020.

The second exhibition, Retrospective Revelations, will also open on 30 November and showcases artworks from the Gallery’s permanent collection. These are a range of works whose original meaning still finds resonance in contemporary society. The exhibition reflects on modern society through historical lenses.

The third exhibition to be launched is PowerPlay, a group exhibition featuring artists working within digital media, moving image and technology. Co-commissioned by London-based arebyte Gallery and the National Gallery in Bulawayo, PowerPlay foregrounds the digital art scene in Africa and presents work by digital artists who are from or based in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the United Kingdom. The works address isolation and alienation; societal bias around gender and race; transformation of being; the politics of borders and migration; dark markets of trade; and communities who work outside of the mainstream economy. PowerPlay will be launched on 3 December 2020.

The three exhibitions will run until year-end and into the first quarter of 2021.

We look forward to welcoming you back to our space.

For more details contact the NGB on +263292270721 or email sabona@mweb.co.zw

NGB set to re-open on a high note

by Emmanuel KaNdlovu

The National Gallery in Bulawayo (NGB) will on Monday the 30th of November hold a ceremonious gathering for invited guests in the grand re-opening of the institution following a COVID-19 induced hiatus.

Butholezwe Nyathi, the NGB’s Regional Director, revealed the plans for the day.

“This will be an event to welcome the public back to enjoy the services offered by the Gallery. Our guests will be treated to drumming and poetry sessions that will be coupled with interactive art drawing where a canvas is going to be set out for them to try out a hand in art,” Nyathi said.

Nyathi also shared there are plans for a mini concert scheduled for the same day.

He said, “Since this is still a work in progress, details about this will be made available at a later stage once everything is finalised.”

Once officially re-opened, the POWERPLAY digital exhibition will get the ball rolling on exhibitions as it is set to open on the 3rd of December. This group exhibition that features artists working within digital media, moving image and technology is co-commissioned by London based arebyte Gallery and the NGB with support from the New Art New Audiences grant from the British Council. It opened at the arebyte Gallery in August and is finally travelling to the NGB.

To attract new faces, the NGB is running a competition where the first five first timers to visit the space after the re-opening will be awarded free membership for the year 2021. More details on this are available on the establishment’s website and social media pages.

In light of the recent upsurge in COVID-19 infections, particularly in the city, Nyathi ascertained all standard procedures will be followed to ensure the safety of the staff and patrons as the institution resumes its operations.

“As the Gallery, we will do our best to adhere to the set protocols. We have procured sanitisers and we will be installing protective shields at the reception and other areas. We will also be limiting the number of people that gather at the same time while putting great emphasis on the wearing of masks at all times.”

In a recent statement, the art institution revealed it had shut down during the Covid-19 induced lockdown which left its doors closed to the public up to date.

“However, for the first time in over eight months, the public will be allowed into the Douslin house,” the statement reads.

NGB RE-OPENING DATE SET

The National Gallery in Bulawayo is to re-open on Monday, 30 November 2020. Like many institutions, the gallery shut down during the Covid-19 induced lockdown which left its doors closed to the public up to date. However, for the first time in over eight months, the public will be allowed into the Douslin house.

The National Gallery in Bulawayo is to re-open on Monday, 30 November 2020. Like many institutions, the gallery shut down during the Covid-19 induced lockdown which left its doors closed to the public up to date. However, for the first time in over eight months, the public will be allowed into the Douslin house.

Climate change and COP26: Open call for creative commissions

The British Council is inviting applications for creative commissions that bring together art, science and digital technology and offer innovative responses to climate change. We are working with partners in the UK and worldwide to support the success and legacy of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which the UK is hosting in Glasgow in November 2021 and will be using our global network to create opportunities for cooperation, dialogue and action which address the shared challenge of climate change.  

We are inviting collaborative applications from individuals and organisations in the UK with partners from eligible countries and states overseas.

Organisations can apply for up to £50,000 to realise their creative idea and we are looking to support up to 20 projects. We want these commissions to stimulate truly global conversations, bringing people from different countries, cultures and communities together to understand each other’s perspectives and work together on creative responses and solutions to climate change.

Please find out more and apply here: https://www.britishcouncil.org/arts/opportunities/open-call-creative-commissions.

The application deadline is Sunday 13 December 2020, 22.00 (GMT). You can also register now to join one of three information surgeries in November 2020.

POSITION ADVERTISEMENT EDUCATION OFFICER, ngz harare

Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced persons to fill the position of Education Officer which has arisen within the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

KEY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

• Assist in the developing the Education Program of the Gallery, making full use of Collections and Exhibitions. Designing and implementing the Gallery’s educational outreach program•

Liaising with formal schools to receive pupils and create program for classroom use•

Staging non-formal Workshops for pupils in the Gallery and beyond.•

Assist in creation of educational information and pamphlets for various audiences.•

Assist in staging Annual Schools Art Exhibition and liaising with the Gallery’s Visual Art Studio to create Gallery youth centered educational program.•

Reinforce and consolidate ties with a core of schools and establish and maintain postal contact with a selection of high density and provincial schools in a systematic manner – acquire contracts from Regional Galleries.•

Produce termly newsletters and maintain weekly contact with member schools to enable them to visit the Gallery to access programs throughout the year.•

Assist in marketing the Culture Box and consider smaller themed boxes with accompanying information.•

Maintain monthly Gallery flyers and information documentation aimed at school groups and children visiting the Gallery – related to the Exhibitions and Art History.•

Work with the Visual Arts Studio to identify schools in need of art clubs and find ways to stimulate and assist them to start with the assistance of our students•

Assist in staging termly workshops for art teachers offering theoretical and practical tips for teaching art in the classrooms and making use of the Gallery art and Collections. Ensure all teacher engagement and support for new curriculum.•

Work with the Collections Department to stage shows that are pertinent to the schools’ curriculum themes and art history and appreciation.•

Ensure that the Gallery projects are child friendly and that programs reflect a learning environment. Conduct Saturday art lessons to increase art appreciation.

COMPETENCE AND SKILLS FOR POST:The person must possess:1) Bed in Art Degree; Diploma in Education or related field;2) Excellent problem solving, analytical, IT and numerical abilities.3) Experience working in a government setting will be an added advantage

Interested candidates must submit their applications enclosing a detailed Curriculum Vitae and certified copies of qualifications, clearly marked:The Executive DirectorNational Gallery of Zimbabwe “Education Officer”20 Julius Nyerere WayP.O Box CY 848Causeway HARAREor hr@nationalgallery.co.zw

Deadline for submission of applications is close of business on 20 November 2020.

ONLY SHORT LISTED CANDIDATES MEETING THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS WILL BE CONTACTED.

1st Bulawayo Annual Exhibition 2020, Artist Call Out.

  • THE BULAWAYO ANNUAL EXHIBITION Is an annual exhibition designed to celebrate the pinnacles of southern region achievements in the visual arts. A platform to experience the very best artwork Bulawayo has to offer, in the form of paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints and craft by from professional and emerging artists.
  • The Annual Exhibition is a curated project presenting artists whose work would have not been shown anywhere, seen alongside some of the best artists today. Through the Annual Exhibition, the Gallery will offer support and encouragement especially to the emerging artists through our local and international residency programs, Life Drawing Classes and workshops throughout the following year.
  • The National Gallery intends to use the Annual Exhibition to identify, support, promote and award outstanding talent such as Best Female Artists, Young Artist of Promise and Overall Outstanding Artists for 2020. Ultimately, the Gallery will collect and conserve contemporary masterpieces in several media that reflects the enthusiasm, relevance, originality, diversity and soul of the people of the region and beyond.
  • The emphasis is to encourage artists to produce their best works for the local and international community to see and collect talent, in so doing promoting the visibility and viability of art and playing a fundamental role in the positioning Zimbabwean artists in the world art market.
  • Locally, the Annual Exhibition will be didactic on the pedagogies of Zimbabwean culture, history, present reality, and futuristic envisions powered by digital formulae. The Annual Exhibition of Bulawayo will initially be held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, and also includes awards ceremony, related activities such as Friday Late and the Bulawayo Conversations between December and February 2021.  The annual exhibition will then incorporate Mat. South, North, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
  • In 2021 the Annual Exhibition will also incorporate private studios doted around the city creating space for art and culture professionals to meet and participate on various platforms like exhibitions, presentations and workshops pursuing and interrogating the current state of art and curatorial practice in the country.
  • It is the mission of the National Gallery to shape the curatorial practice in Zimbabwe and enable new players to occupy the creative spaces, spearheading the visibility of Zimbabwean art locally and across the globe. To facilitate the artists retuning back home to adapt, improve, transform and implement home grown solutions to our creative work. The Annual Exhibition reassures a solid base of direct interactions with local and international buyers in a friendly environment.

For entry form and more details please contact the Curator on 2922 70721 or email: c.zulu@nationalgallery.co.zw