KIN is a solo debut presentation of an immersive body of work of the dramatic but poetic photographs and videos of contemporary artist Mohau Modisakeng (South Africa, 1986). There is a growing expectation of sophistication when considering the work of contemporary artists from Africa and few can lay claim to leading this stylistic and aesthetic quality than Modisakeng. There is a deliberate atmospheric, esoteric and aesthetic cruelness in Mohau’s work with an underbelly of sardonic cruelty finely disguised.
In this exhibition, Mohau's new film KIN (2018) is premiered. Half-nude black men are draped in white undergarment, sometimes sitting all together, other times all laying on the floor, one man standing while others are seated, a performance. There are horns. There is a man holding a large feather. In each frame the men are almost faceless. There is a deliberate obfuscation that is revealing. The show is completed with five large photographic prints.
Mohau Modisakeng uses his body to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history on how we understand our cultural, political and social roles as human beings. Represented through film, large-scale photographic prints, installations and performance, Modisakeng’s work responds to the history of the black body within the (South) African context, which is inseparably intertwined with the violence of the Apartheid era and the early 1990s. His images are not direct representations of violence, but powerful yet poetic invocations where the body is transformed into a poignant marker of collective memory.
Mohau Modisakeng was born in Soweto in 1986 and lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town in 2009 and worked towards his Masters degree at the same institution. His work has been exhibited at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town (2017); PERFORMA17, New York (2017); IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2014); Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); and the Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar (2012). His works is part of prominent public collections as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, IZIKO South African National Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, the From Cobra to Contemporary Collection, EKARD Collection, Dommering collection, and Zeitz MOCAA.
Modisakeng has been awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2016. As part of a two-person exhibition, Modisakeng also represented South Africa at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017).
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