What isUbuntu,anyway? Does it belong irreducibly to anybody? Who has the freedom or privilege of claimingUbuntuas their own, for their own? What determines the wayUbuntuexists and in how many ways doesUbuntulet us know that its legacy has been imprinted in the fabric of our identities?
The Standard Bank Gallery and renowned artist and curator, Usha Seejarim have worked in collaboration to curate the exhibition titled,I am because you are: A search for Ubuntu with permission to dream.The exhibition is an eight-week long odyssey and artistic enquiry intoUbuntu, and will show from the 2nd February to the 29th March 2018. Thami Mnyele, William Kentridge, Alan Crump, Chiurai Kudzanai and Diane Victor are a few of the many artists that have made important and valuable contributions to the exhibition.
The exhibition is a site of negotiation between the past, present and future about the ways whichUbuntuis pursued, attained and made sense of. From paintings of a buzzing Sophiatown set in the fifties, to sculptures of historic political figures in their youths, the pursuit forUbuntutransforms into an experience of nostalgia. The exhibition has a small section dedicated to artworks demonstrating the moment South Africa was freed from the institutional shackles that divided society on a racial basis for decades. From this point onwards, the exhibition takes one on a journey through the post-1994 moment, with a myriad of works by artists of various disciplines reflecting on different joys and pathologies of the new South Africa.
The definition ofUbuntuis constructed, demolished and reconstructed with every narrative encountered in each of the works. Patriarchy, blackness, wealth, poverty, feminicide, personal/collective agency and even Afrofuturism are some of the matters addressed in these contemporary works.
The exhibition introduces a new scope of the meaning ofUbuntuas a singular concept with an unbending definition. Without alteringUbuntu’score principle of kindness, unconditional love and community, the exhibition refreshesUbuntuwith new layers of meaning and perspectives to appreciate. Most importantly, the exhibition seeks to complicate the audience’s understanding ofUbuntuand what it means to be African.