Material, metaphor and the black body are the tools that Mohau Modisakeng uses to explore the influence of South Africa’s violent history that has been ignored in today’s society, on how we understand our cultural, political, and social roles as human beings in post-colonial Africa and in particular post-apartheid South Africa.
Represented through film, large-scale photographic prints, installations and performances, his “work doesn’t start off with an attempt to portray violence but it becomes mesmerising because although we might recognise history as our past, the body is indifferent to social changes, so it remembers.”
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 Master’s degree at the same institution. His work engages race, the militarisation of society and the deep divides of post-apartheid South Africa and the post-colonial continent. He interrogates the collective narratives that inform our experience of the world, in particular those that evoke the black body as a site of fragmentation and distortion.
Modisakeng was awarded the Sasol New Signatures Award for 2011. He has exhibited at VOLTA NY, New York (2014); the Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar (2012); Focus 11, Basel (2011); and Stevenson, Cape Town (2010). In 2013 he produced an ambitious new video work in association with Samsung as a special project for the 2013 FNB Joburg Art Fair. His work is included in public collections such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town and the Saatchi Gallery, London as well as in significant private collections such as Zeitz MOCAA.
Click here to find out more about Mohau Modisakeng.
Read on for an exclusive Q&A with Mohau ahead of the Summit:
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Well being means for the body, mind and spirit to be in a state of balance with the surrounding environment, where elements of the individual and collective lives of people are in harmony with the societies they inhabit.
Why are you looking forward to being part of The Wellbeing Summit?
I’m very much looking forward for the opportunity to present a new work to new audiences
How does your work connect to wellbeing?
My work revolves around social trauma and healing in the postcolonial African context. There is an inherent concern to portray the harmony or disharmony of spirit body and land in our history.
How does your work for the summit bring you and your audience closer to wellbeing?
The work is an invocation or incarnation that invades audiences to witness and participate in a meditative artwork. “The water drummer” concept is steeped in traditions of healing through communing with ancestral spirits through INGOMA, the drum.