Mohau Modisakeng: Beyond the Liminal Space

Key information

10:30 am to 5:00 pm
Brunei Gallery
Exhibition Rooms
Event type

About this event

Mohau Modisakeng uses the strong and impenitent presence of his own body to poetically portray collective memories that respond to the history of the black struggle within the context of South Africa. Mohau’s photographic work is layered, complex, and rich in symbolic references to mechanisms of violence, stressing on notions of inequality, capital, wealth, labour, race and ritual. His powerful images envisage liminal spaces of latent violence wherein black South Africans have inhabited since the Apartheid era. Mohau’s work focuses particularly on the issues of violence and the role it played and continues to play in colonial as well as post-colonial African societies.

The Centre of African Studies in collaboration with Tyburn Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of selected pieces by the South African artist Mohau Modisakeng at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS. The exhibition is part of the first SOAS Africa Conference ‘Imagining Africa’s Future: Language, Culture, Governance, Development’, as the closing event in a series of activities that have celebrated SOAS’s Centenary.

The works selected for display at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS are part of Modisakeng’s acclaimed series Metamorphosis and Frame. They are large photographs in black and white, ambiguously suggestive of sacred rituals, spaces for re-invention and for reaching beyond the liminality of the in-between. The artist’s work stands as a stimulus to create awareness of the past and to open up a new era for reflection and change. Vastly in line with the spirit of the first SOAS Africa Conference, Mohau Modisakeng, through his work seeks ‘the representation of a more assertive black subject, one that is unapologetically present in the frame’.

Mohau Modisakeng was born in Soweto, Johannesburg in 1986 and lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town.  He studied at Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town.

Mohau Modisakeng is currently representing the South African pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. In 2016 he was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art, the most prestigious award in Africa.  He contributed to the group exhibition of the South African pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

Modisakeng’s work has been exhibited at Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2015); MoCADA, New York (2015); Museum of Fine Art, Boston (2014); 21C Museum, Kentucky, Massachusetts (2014); IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2014); Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); and the Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar (2012), among others.

His works form part of large public collections, such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, the Saatchi Gallery, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) and The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) USA.

Curated by Raquel Villar-Pérez for the Centre of African Studies (SOAS) and kindly supported by Tyburn Gallery.

Sample images from the exhibition