2017 - Omang
The Association For Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town
Ann Gollifer and Shepherd Ndudzu
“OMANG?- WHO ARE YOU?”
An exhibition of lino print and embroidery on fabric
and sculpture in wood and marble.
9th March to 8th of April 2017
The English translation of the Setswana question 'OMANG?' is 'WHO ARE YOU?'
The phrase also refers to the printed ID card that all citizens of Botswana must have.
The question of citizenship has many more subtle depths of meaning, bringing up issues of belonging or not belonging within society in general.
The fabric used in the making of the work in this exhibition is called 'Leteisi' in Setswana. The fabric has a history embedded in Colonialism. “Native truck” or “Kaffir truck” shops selling this cloth and other European factory-made goods toured Southern Africa, supplying women with cheap cotton print and household utensils, replacing their traditional dress and craft. The cotton prints were manufactured in Holland, Germany and Great Britain for African patrons who quickly began to call the shots in terms of design and colour. This history has resulted in the cloth’s special place in the contemporary dress of Southern African women, particularly those of Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The foreign fabric introduced to advance control over the “native tribes” was adopted by African women and turned into a celebration of their own culture, femininity and power. The resulting attires worn at special occasions are now deemed almost a National Dress. The fabric in this exhibition is overprinted with linocuts, originated specifically for this project. Linocut is a simple method of block-print making, which is employed by schools, grass roots art initiatives and individual artists throughout Africa and has an interesting history of use in the representation of resistance to oppression. Many of the pieces in this exhibition have been embroidered with images that allude to imbalances of power world wide; social, economic, cultural, racial, gender based and environmental. The human figure and portrait are juxtaposed and overlaid with images of the flora and fauna of the natural world to create narratives on the human condition. The motif of tribal totems describes one aspect of belonging or not belonging within a society, as does the Mynah bird marching through some of the pieces, an unwanted migrant worldwide. The work in this exhibition is a response to the forces that are beyond most ordinary peoples’ spheres of influence, forces that challenge, disrupt and destroy lives daily. Humanity endures on both a physical and spiritual level but often like the grains of sand in a high tide we are washed headlong into directions we did not mean to take.