South African Mohau Modisakeng’s beautiful video Inzilo was an eye-catchers at VOLTA NY 2014. The slow-motion video opens up a theme of mourning from a personal point of view. Inzilo is a word that ”refers to a practice in some South African traditions around the loss of a loved one characterized by a period of mourning.” Dressed only in a piece of black garment and a hat, Mohau, as a solo performer goes through a process where he transits from one stage to the next. Sitting on a chair motionless, he first looks ethereal both arms stretched on his side, as the camera rotates slightly around the white room. Then he starts scattering, picking pieces of the burnt fabric (in this case wax) and ash from his hands. Gradually, it appears that as layers of burnt go, a new skin is revealed. The camera shows close-ups of his hands and feet covered with debris. Eventually, head bent down, he decides to get up, shakes and throws the remained pieces with a dust cloud in the air. His performance represents a rite of passage, a transition from mourning to normal.
Performing rituals is one powerful way to convey African indigenous, diasporic and post-apartheid messages via contemporary art. We have seen this happen in the dance works of South African choreographer Vincent Mantsoe, based in France. This similar kind of purity of emotions and thought comes across from Mohau Modisakeng’s video, which is a dialogue between a performance and the visual.
Mohau Modisakeng was represented at VOLTA NY 2014 by BRUNDYN + gallery from CAPE TOWN. The artist was born in Soweto. He 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 Masters degree at the same institution. He was awarded the SASOL New Signatures Award for 2011. The artist was presented at VOLTA NY also in 2013.
visit BRUNDYN + gallery http://www.brundyngonsalves.com/gallery/