Kudzanai Chiurai: We Live in Silence

13 September - 3 November 2018

Drawing from the previous series - Revelations (2011) and Genesis [Je n’isi isi] (2016) - as well as Mauritanian director Med Hondo’s seminal piece of cinema Soleil O (1969), the film-based works presented an introspective journey into colonialism at the dawn of independence. Incorporated religious and populist iconography, Chiurai’s work emancipated symbols from pre-existing propagandist values - previously used to serve and democratize colonialism and racism - to re-stage a Black experience indoctrinated by religious fundamentalism and political corruptions.

 

This re-appropriation of codified aesthetics worked to create an uneasy environment which compeled the viewer to become less an observer, more a participant, within the space. Referencing Med Hondo’s cinematic masterpiece, Chiurai’s intersecting narrative positions race and colonization against the backdrop of migration, religion, and gender.

 

The film presented a compelling narrative and visceral imagery of “colonial futures,” with Chiurai particularly revisiting the contributions made by women in early post-colonial struggles. Within the works, Chiurai reflected on the role of Nationalist figures in the emancipation of women during liberation, and the statement by revolutionary Thomas Sankara that ”There is no true social revolution without the liberation of women.”

 

Within We Live in Silence, Chiurai intentionally presented ideas which blured the lines between past, present, and future. Immersing the viewer into a non-linear experience of being, the artist employed this trans-generational perspective to explore the persisting effects of colonial dominance. Here his black protagonists dissolved their inferiority by enslaving and enchaining the ‘other’, to satisfy a dominant stature.