Zanele Muholi, Zeitz MOCAA Rooftop, Cyrus Kabiru

The Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa(Zeitz MOCAA) officially opened its doors to the public last week on the 22nd of September and as expected it was an event that drew in massive crowds and dignitaries but beyond all the sparkles, the opening was intended to signify the expansion of the art world to the general public.

The mammoth structure houses 100 galleries with contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora, mostly from the Zeitz collection. The broader exhibitions are each so unique that walking from room to room is like discovering different narratives from all over the African continent, and of course, the artists’ works are what bring the museum to life.

Here are 5 must-see solo exhibitions currently showing at the museum: 

Nandipha Mntambo – Best known for her sculptures, video and photographic works, Nandipha’s exhibition is about the connection humans have with animals in how they relate to with. The Namibian born artist organic materials such as cowhide and manipulates it into shapes that mimic the female body, although her focus is not on feminity but rather challenges the representations of the female form in mainstream culture. The relationship between the cowhide and the human presents an interesting paradox for her, a subversion of power because of how difficult it is to manipulate the cowhide. Her collection is a must-see.

Nandipha Mntambo
Nandipha Mntambo’s work with cowhide.

Kudzanai Chiurai – Kudzanai’s work is deeply inspired by his activism, the use of mixed media carves out an alternate reality in which he critiques the socio-political issues in Zimbabwe. Often deemed as “controversial”, Kuzanai’s work “We Live In Silence” explores Africa’s post-colonial landscape of Africa and how the legacy is one that cannot be escaped, speaking to the corruption of power hungry leaders in 3rd world states.

We Live In Silence: Kudzanai Chiurai
State Of The Nation: Kudzanai Chiurai

Athi-Patra Ruga- Specializing in mixed media in a vivid contemporary style, Ruga’s work seeks to challenge the confines of heteronormativity using his own body as the subject. One will find it a cross between reality and fantasy where culture, ancestry and so-called nuanced topics such as queerness and gender identification are delved into. Ruga’s vibrant work is housed in global museums and his personal though non-onbvious critique of political and positionality will give you something to think about.

Athi- Patra Ruga- Proposed Model for Tseko Simon Nkoli Memorial
The Knight Of Long Knives – Athi-Patra Ruga

Zanele Muholi – The South African artist and activist creates deeply evocative photographic work that is primarily focused on the queer black identity in this country, specifically in marginalized communities. Zanele is best known for her black and white self-portraits in which she takes on different personas, playing on stereotypes and juxtaposition of the Eurocentric male gaze on a queer black body such as herself.  The work is a telling performative that critique’s people’s ideas of blackness and making herself darker reclaims it. One need not even be up-close with her “Sonyama Ngonyama” portraits to appreciate how poignant  o and imaginative it is, shifting the power dynamic and making one question the implications of a forced white-washed heteronormative society.

Somnyama Ngonyama – Zanele Muholi
Bester IV, Mayotte, 2015. Zanele Muholi

Cyrus Kabiru – Described by some as Afrofuteristic, Cyrus’ work explores the possibility of Africa in the future. The Kenyan artist creates glasses that he then puts on and takes self-portraits. The imagining of a continent steeped in colonial history takes on a more extravagant and fashion-focused point of view in Cyrus’ work and complemented by the museums’ brown walls, the portraits are strikingly beautiful.

Macho Nne. Cyrus Kabiru


Macho Nne. Cyrus Kabiru

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