15th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art: Lá oú les eaux se mêlent

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Exhibited Artworks: Untitled (Journey to Asazi), mixed media, 2019. In the Land of the Blind the One Eyed Man is King?, mixed media, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery, Bucarest/Los Angeles; STEVENSON, Le Cap/Johannesbourg/Amsterdam.

"Mythical narrative," wrote historian and anthropologist Jean-Pierre Vernant, "is not the stuff of individual invention or creative fantasy, but the transmission of memory." These characteristics apply equally well to the hybrid pictures and sculptures of Simphiwe Ndzube. The artist interrogates post-colonialism and the history of Apartheid by creating dreamlike political landscapes that transgress borders. "I've attempted to create the genesis of a cosmology that finds itself in the 'uncharted lands and trackless seas' I call the Mine Moon. It emerges from the tradition of magical realism and is expanding to currently unknown points."

 

For the Biennale, he plunges us into an immense theatrical forest where he stages a carnival-like procession with two opposing groups of sculptures: spiritual people and gravediggers, caught between the fight against exploitation and the desire for change; their clothes are given special attention. "I'm interested in uniforms or uniformity in fashion and the labour class, as silent but visual makers of social identities and relationships." Here, the artist continues to explore the themes that haunt his work, while also making connections with the 1786 silk-worker uprising in Lyon and a much large one, the "révolte des canuts" (1831), which are both landmarks in the city's political and social history, and find fresh resonance in the history of the Fagor factory.