AIR Exhibition

 

August 3-21, 2020

An exhibition celebrating the work of Clive Sithole, Mudflat's Artist in Residence, 2019-2020

“Ukulanda noku Ngenisa:

Bringing in the Language of the Goddess”

In-person visiting hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 am to 4 pm

Or by appointment; call 617-628-0589

Mudflat is following strict COVID-19 rules:

Masks must be worn in the building.

Exhibition space is limited to 4 visitors at a time.       

 

  

Zulu culture is centered around honoring one’s ancestors.  Our spiritual rituals facilitate connection with the ancestors and enable their guidance and cooperation in all aspects of life, from birth, marriage, death and burial to rain, harvest, livestock, and more. 

 

The land, which is home not only to the living, but also to the ancestors, is inextricably tied to these rituals, our culture, and our existence.  But to establish minority rule in South Africa, white colonists realized they must control the land.  The 1913 Native Lands Act slashed black land ownership to just seven percent, part of a series of policies designed to force non-whites off their land.  Subsequently, apartheid (1948-1994) brought an era of extreme institutionalized racism: segregation, dispossession, poverty, violence, dehumanization. 

 

I was born in 1971 into the midst this.  We lived in Soweto, one of the segregated townships for blacks.  My mother was a seamstress and my father was the leader of a renowned KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) band called “The Drive.”  I was born a triplet.  One sister, Ingrid, died at age two. When I was six, my father died in a car accident along with several bandmates.  My remaining sister, Annette, passed in 2014.  She and I experienced all of our childhood hardships together, and she was a major influence on my path towards becoming an artist. 

 

When I was 23, Nelson Mandela was elected President and the official end of the apartheid era brought great hope.  Yet 25 years later profound systemic repercussions remain. South Africa’s nine percent white minority population still own 80% of the land.  Ziphi Nkomo?  Where are the cattle?  Where is the land?  These are the questions we are still asking. 

 

Growing up, I was always drawn to and inspired by the material expressions of the Zulu culture.  As I discovered headrests, hairstyles, spoons, and clay Ukhamba (vessels), I was pulled to know more, to dig deep into their meaning and history.  What has given me strength and perseverance is ancestral guidance.  This is not something one chooses; it is like an initiation.  The ancestors do not ask you; they guide you.  You are given instructions; they tell you what to do.  This guidance has been knocking on my heart my whole life.  It is a huge responsibility.  I feel compelled to make time for quiet, to get in a zone through working in clay, so I can listen.  I have felt the weight of the vision for this show on my shoulders for years.  Only now have the right conditions, time, and place finally made it possible for this work to become manifest. 

 

Through my work, I interrogate issues of land in South Africa.  I aspire to make these connections in the language of the Goddess, to fetch and bring together the symbols of our culture in order to reconnect and heal the fragments.  The Goddesses bring luck and make dreams come true. The Goddesses in the show are like the headstones to the spirits.  The dream of this show is to mirror the beauty and struggle of black South Africa back onto itself, to reawaken us to remember where we come from in order to know the way forward