Atang Tshikare in ‘Still Here To High Five You Yesterday’ at Zeitz MOCAA

Two sculptures and a series of ink drawings on paper by Atang Tshikare are featured in Still Here Tomorrow To High Five You Yesterday at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) from 30 January until 22 September 2019.

Legae (‘home’ in Setswana), produced for Extra Ordinary at Southern Guild in 2018, is exhibited alongside an earlier sculpture by the artist, Itjhebe (‘self-reflection’), a multimedia piece made of wood, beads and woven reeds. Legae is a massive standing sculpture made from sand and inspired by the biomorphic forms of wasp nests and African vernacular architecture (in particular, the homes of Nguni people and tribes living in East Africa). The structure mimics two lovers holding onto each other and its rounded shapes evoke the sensual physicality of the human body. Unconventional storage compartments are hidden in the holes puncturing its surface.

“His design voice is an Afrofuturistic identity using a primal future as a source of direction,” says the Zeitz MOCAA’s exhibition statement. “Each form he creates emphasises a sense of touch with its vibrant texture which extends between natural and man-made materials. The tones of colour are kept to natural and minimal so as to maximize the raw object and capitalise on the sense of sight.”

Curated by Azu Ngwagbogu, with assistant curators Precious Mhone and Gcotyelwa Mashiqa, Still Here Tomorrow To High Five You Yesterday features work by 37 contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora. It takes its title from Pendleton Ward’s animated television series Adventure Time Vol. 1: “This cosmic dance of bursting decadence and withheld permissions twists all our arms collectively, but if sweetness can win, and it can, then I’ll still be here tomorrow to high-five you yesterday, my friend. Peace.”

The exhibition explores the different ways in which artists, performers, writers and architects tackle the complexities inherent within the dual concepts of utopia and progress. Exploring emergent spaces that exist both in the realm of the mind and in the physical unknown, the exhibition points critically to the mirages, metaphors, stereotypes and matrixes of progress. It engages with the phenomenon of travel and migration through imagined, alternative realities that reference both fixed and immaterial locations.

The artists in this exhibition propose many different concepts of time, a time that is no longer linear but cyclical, inter-dimensional and experiential. The artworks suggest an infinite realm of potential transformation — where past, present and future collapse into one. Evoking a place yet-to-be-known, the exhibition challenges the idea that utopia is synonymous with escapist pursuits. Instead, the works of the artists on exhibition offer a poetic critique of the norms of existing societies.

Born from notions of space travel and the tropes of Afro-futurist movements, the exhibition is conceived in chapters that unfold and progress presenting a plurality of post-colonial futures. In this way, the exhibition shapes and shifts in the gallery, disrupting and distorting the constructs of utopia and its opposite: dystopia, encouraging more nuanced perspectives on our shared futures.

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