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Curated by Tandazani Dhlakama
How can humor be used to discuss a recent social-political crisis which is threatening to recur?
How is braiding a form of re-establishing and celebrating roots?
How does public engagement on public holidays question the histories we commemorate?
Home-Sick is an exploration of the idea of being sick of home, having anxiety or exhaustion because of one’s environment, city, nation or state. However, this homesickness also denotes a yearning for a sense of belonging. Each artist in this exhibition is yearning for their idea of home, whether it is a specific location, a romanticized idea of having place or a desire to escape political instability. What connects all three artists is the idea of subversion of dominant narratives and a reaching out to the past.
Lucia Nhamo’s ‘Free Fall’ is a satirical reflection of the narratives surrounding Zimbabwe’s economic and political turmoil, particularly the years leading up to 2008. During this period, the nation endured a period of world-record hyperinflation and scarcity of basic commodities. At the same time, the national airline became very unpopular because of its unreliability. Through videos, performances and installations, using a fictional money and airplane scheduled to go nowhere, Nhamo invites us to make light of the situation, yet she shows the real anxieties that existed in the country at the time as well as uncertainties that may still exist today.
Nontsikelelo Mutiti’s ‘Ruka’ is an exploration of how hair braiding gives communities a sense of home. Whether it is Harlem, Harare, Coventry or Cape Town, intimate spaces like hair salons become places where the African diaspora construct identities. Old images depicting styles from the past, may become the primordial reference that influence new styles. Yet, in some instances, hairstyles from popular culture elsewhere are appropriated. The term kuruka means to braid or to weave. It is an art form that is mostly associated with women. Passing down this skill of weaving or braiding hair is also entangled with the notions of passing down and revising and revisiting stories. This body of work will be presented in the form of digital media, prints, photographs, and found objects.
Sethembile Msezane contests the irony of belonging but not seeing yourself in the cultural landscape of a nation. She questions the lingering presence of colonial monuments, by literally performing her own identity in public arenas. For her ‘Public Holiday’ series, she injects herself in civic spaces, and props herself up during significant national commemorative holidays such as Freedom Day or Heritage Day in South Africa. Though she performs silently, she confronts the historical architecture in her surroundings and begs audiences to join her in a quest for alternative narratives.
This exhibition will travel from Cape Town, South Africa, to Harare, Zimbabwe, since the issues highlighted by the artists are topical and relevant to audiences in both cities. There are large communities of Zimbabweans in South Africa, and at the same time when socio-political challenges arise in either state, the tremors are often felt by the other. Audiences will be able to relate to Nhamo’s work, as in the year 2016 Zimbabwe endured a cash crisis. In Msezane’s work, Cape Town audiences will recognize the historical monuments in her series, as her performances have taken place in that city. Furthermore, movements that have emerged from deep feelings of displacement, such as the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement, started in Cape Town. Diaspora communities as well as locals in Cape Town and Harare will be able to relate to Mutiti’s exploration of hair braiding as it is an integral part of those particular societies.
Images 1 - 3. Lucia Nhamo, Free Fall: A Chronology of the Zimbabwe Dollar, installation, 2015.
Images 4 - 8. Nontsikelelo Mutiti, part of Ruka (to braid / to knit / to weave) body of work, 2014-ongoing.
Images 9 - 11. Sethembile Msezane, part of Public Holiday series, 2014.
About the Curator
Zimbabwean born, Tandazani Dhlakama, is an assistant curator at Zeitz MOCAA. She joined the museum in 2017 and has been involved in the Zeitz MOCAA Centre for Art Education as Education Manager with special focus on public programming and tertiary engagement. She recently curated Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection at El Espacio 23 (2020), Five Bhobh: Painting at the End of an Era (2018) and co-curated Nobukho Nqaba’s Izicwangciso Zezethu… (2019) at Zeitz MOCAA.
Before joining Zeitz MOCAA, Dhlakama worked at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Harare where she held various roles between 2011 and 2017. Recently she held the position of Curator of Education and Public Programming. During her tenure, at the NGZ, she was the conference coordinator for the 2nd International Conference on African Cultures (ICAC 2017) which took place in Harare. At the NGZ, Dhlakama was involved in curating several exhibitions including, Engaging with “the Other” (2013), Women at the Top (2014), ZimbabweIN Design (2014 and 2017), Dis(colour)ed Margins (2017) as well as several annual schools and colleges exhibitions.
In Harare, Dhlakama co-curated These Images Are Stories (2017) in collaboration with British Council Zimbabwe, Zimbo Jam and Impact Hub Islington in Harare. Dhlakama worked as curator at Tsoko Gallery, an independent art space in Harare, where she curated their inaugural exhibition Beyond the Body (2016) and was involved in the establishment of the space. Dhlakama has worked as Gallery Assistant at the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University (2008-2011) and interned at Microspazio Disponibile Art Gallery, Italy (2009), Tizianos Art- Kreemart, USA (2011) and East Street Arts, UK (2015).
Dhlakama has participated in various curatorial intensives in Africa, including, the Independent Curators International (ICI) Curatorial Intensive in Dakar, Senegal (2016), the Zeitz MOCAA Curatorial Training Program in Cape Town, South Africa (2015) and the New Ideas, New Possibilities Curatorial Forum and Workshop in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (2013). Dhlakama has contributed to the following publications, Plasticity of the Planet: On Environmental Challenge for Art and Its Institutions, Something We Africans Got, Africanah, The Herald Newspaper, Panorama, Jewel, Stitch and Artlife magazines.
Dhlakama is Beit Scholar. She holds an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies from the University of Leeds, UK (2015) and a BA in Fine Art and Political Science, Magna Cum Laude from St. Lawrence University, USA (2011).