The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town is presenting “Gilt,” a solo exhibition by Nigerian-British contemporary artist Mary Evans (b. 1963). Gilt, which means gold paint applied in a thin layer to a surface, is pronounced the same as “guilt,” a sense of shame. The artist exposes her sense of guilt as a survivor of the historical persecution of black people, slavery, colonization, apartheid, and even the late capitalist life.
For decades, the artist has been attaching paper silhouettes of people to walls. She relates the cheap, transported, discarded, broken, and shunned nature of the disposable materials she uses to the way black bodies have been treated. The shapes cut out of the light brown paper, like hieroglyphics, allude to the history of black people, and to all anonymous beings. The exhibition in Zeitz MOCAA reinterprets the history of Cape Town.
Zeitz MOCAA, a public art museum housed in a former grain silo in Cape Town, is the largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora. It was founded in 2011 by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and German executive Jochen Zeitz.
William Kentridge’s (b. 1955) ‘The Head & the Load’ premieres in Joburg Theater on April 21. Kentridge is a South African artist of Lithuanian descent, best known for his printmaking and drawing-animation works dealing with apartheid and the colonization of Africa.
Based on the Ghanaian proverb “The head and the load are the troubles of the neck,” the play tells the story of Africans who were forced to work as porters for the British, French, and German armies during the First World War. During the war, colonized people were recruited and killed in large numbers, but their deaths were buried without mention. Kentridge attempts to recognize and record their stories.
‘The Head & the Load’ weaves together several genres of art, including drawing, video projection, dance, theater, pantomime, shadow play, moving sculpture, and music. Images, movement, and sound overlap on a long axis stage spanning 50 meters across, creating an experimental performance. ‘The Head & the Load’ premiered at London’s Tate Modern in 2018 and has since traveled to New York, Amsterdam, and Germany to great acclaim. The show is now set to premiere in Africa after being postponed for several years due to the pandemic.
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Cairo is presenting its first contemporary art exhibition, “Traces of Egypt.” The German-Egyptian artist Susan Hefuna (b. 1962), who has collaborated with local artisans to create textile works, presents costume pieces that utilize the ancient Egyptian Khayameya appliqué. The exhibition runs through June 15.
GEM is a world-scale archaeological museum designed by the Egyptian government in 2002 to showcase the cultural heritage of the ancient Egyptian dynasties. It launched as a 500,000-square-meter building near the Giza Pyramids. More than 5,000 treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb will be on display. The project has been repeatedly delayed after the 2011 Arab Spring anti-government protests and due to national financial problems caused by the decline in tourism. But it plans to open later this year, and “Traces of Egypt” is the first contemporary art show at the partially open GEM. It reflects the institution’s emphasis on continuing Egypt’s cultural traditions.