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WITNESS: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection

December 2020 – Winter 2021

One year after its grand opening, El Espacio 23 presents its highly anticipated second exhibition, Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection. Guest curated by Zimbabwean curator Tandazani Dhlakama, Assistant Curator, Zeitz MOCAA, in collaboration with Pérez Collection curators Patricia M. Hanna and Anelys Alvarez, the exhibition includes over 100 works by African and African Diaspora artists. Addressing themes of systematic oppression, intergenerational trauma, syncretism, identity and territory, Witness: Afro Perspectives invites visitors to be present in the current moment and bear witness to challenges carried from one generation to another

Installation views: Photos: Oriol Tarridas

To witness is to observe an act, to be present in a significant moment. It can involve seeing a single transgression, a series of cataclysmic episodes that beg for interrogation and introspection. Yet one can also witness a euphoric regenerative instant, a season of restitution. One bears witness.
The burdensome load of memory, lived experience, nostalgia, disillusionment, or anticipation can be carried on from one generation to another. At what point is the witness implicit? Is this dependent on proximity and distance from the matter? To what extent are time and space an intermediary, challenging the boundaries between truth, myth, imagination, and utopia? Could it be that landscape, the earth, is the most objective witness of all time? It can speak of politics, peoples, and pillages. It can testify to the cyclical nature of revolution, creolization, displacement, and humanity’s aching endeavor for legacy from epoch to epoch. Collectively, we witness from different vantage points. For whom do we testify?
We grapple with issues around origins, grasping onto romanticized narratives from the past, perhaps because we are unsure, since lines of communication have been cut, crossed, and entangled with other realities.
We witness profound encounters, a syncretism of ideas and cultures, often followed by systematic suppression.
We witness the reconstitution of nationhood, territories and belonging. As we disperse, diverge, and reconnect there is continuous reinvention and reassertion of self, place, and home. As we move, we fasten ourselves to values constituted by our multi-layered archaeology.
Yet, when we are most silent, when we are seeking, that is when we encounter metaphysical witnesses.
In an otherworldly manner, they whisper truths and fabrications mapping out multiple ways.

Artists included in the exhibition
  • Mequitta Ahuja
  • Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou
  • Maxwell Alexandre
  • Lhola Amira
  • Joël Andrianomearisoa
  • Belkis Ayón
  • José Bedia
  • María Magdalena Campos-Pons
  • Chéri Cherin
  • Virginia Chihota
  • Kudzanai Chiurai
  • Ibou Diouf
  • Chioma Ebinama
  • Tomm El-Saieh
  • Rotimi Fani-Kayode
  • Samuel Fosso
  • Kendell Geers
  • David Goldblatt
  • Tony Gum
  • Robert Hodgins
  • Masimba Hwati
  • Gavin Jantjes
  • Kcho (Alexis Leyva Machado)
  • Seydou Keïta
  • William Kentridge
  • Kiluanji Kia Henda
  • David Koloane
  • Dorothee Kreutzfeldt
  • Alf Kumalo
  • Moshekwa Langa
  • Houston Maludi
  • Cristiano Mangovo

  • Senzeni Marasela

  • Carlos Martiel

  • Arjan Martins

  • Gerhard Marx

  • Misheck Masamvu

  • Wangari Mathenge

  • Maurice Mbikayi

  • Khanyisile Mbongwa

  • Richard Mudariki

  • Christopher Myers

  • Cassi Namoda

  • Simphiwe Ndzube

  • Sam Nhlengethwa

  • Nobukho Nqaba

  • Boris Nzebo

  • J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere

  • Nnenna Okore

  • António Ole

  • Eniwaye Oluwaseyi

  • Oluwole Omofemi

  • Frida Orupabo

  • George Pemba

  • Thania Petersen

  • Pamela Phastimo Suntrum

  • Tracey Rose

  • Athi-Patra Ruga

  • Chéri Samba

  • Berni Searle

  • Ernesto Shikhani

  • Yinka Shonibare

  • David Shrobe

  • Mary Sibande

  • Bambo Sibiya

  • Malick Sidibé

  • Lorna Simpson

  • Penny Siopis

  • Buhlebezwe Siwani

  • Rowan Smith

  • Mikhael Subotzky

  • Barthélémy Toguo

  • Diane Victor

  • Francisco Vidal

  • Sue Williamson

  • Dominique Zinkpè

  • Portia Zvavahera

Virtual Tour
ABOUT THE CURATOR

Tandazani Dhlakama, is an assistant curator at Zeitz MOCAA. Prior to joining Zeitz MOCAA, she worked at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Harare where she held various roles between 2011 and 2017. In 2017 she was the conference coordinator for the 2nd International Conference on African Cultures (ICAC 2017) which took place in Harare.

In 2016 Dhlakama was 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.
She has contributed essays and articles to publications such as Something We Africans Got, Africanah, The Herald Newspaper, Panorama, Jewel, Stitch and Artlife magazines. Dhlakama is a 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).