This exhibition is a continuation of the projects developed as part of the KfW Stiftung residency program in collaboration with the Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin between 2019 and 2020. It features two contemporary African artists Gladys Kalichini and Talya Lubinsky at Villa 102 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, through September 26, 2021.
The exhibition by these two artists investigates ideas of memory in relation to Southern Africa’s colonial past and is based on a documented exploration, transforming authentic interconnections into large-scale sculptural installations.
The initial phase of the exhibition… « these gestures of memory » by Zambian artist Gladys Kalichini is the basic assessment as it tends to the erasure and intangibility of certain political dissidents in the narratives of freedom in Zambia and Zimbabwe during the 1960s-1980s.
In this unique circumstance, Gladys Kalichini is interested in ideas of mourning, memory and neglect. Her visual and sound installations dramatize the hallucinatory cycles of recognition and remembrance.
South African artist Talya Lubinksy‘s « Marble Dust », meanwhile, is related to the artist’s search for compensation for the human remains of political activists in the context of racial segregation in South Africa in the 1960s. Through her work with gradually decaying authentic materials, the innate tension between this fading and transient idea of human bodies on the one hand, and the immutability of cemeteries and places of memory on the other, has become the focus of her work.
Gladys Kalichini focuses on the duality of memory and history and addresses ideas of mourning, remembering and forgetting, as well as the celebration of women’s singular narratives within the larger framework of histories of protection from colonial rule in Zambia and Zimbabwe between the 1960s and 1980s.
She is fundamentally interested in the erasure, non-appearance, and intangibility of particular women political dissidents in the global memory of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Her work challenges the particularity of prevailing histories of freedom, separates and expands the narratives of battles by uniting the memories of multiple women, and draws a complex and diverse picture of public autonomy.
Her current project focuses on six women’s ideas of imperceptibility in Zambian and Zimbabwean independence narratives. In her previous projects, « ChaMoneka : Uncasting Shadows » and « FyaMoneka : Exploring the Erasure of Women Within Zambian history », she has explored the erasure of women in Zambian historiography and collective memory.
As an introduction to the issue of women’s marginalization in the description of certain events, she examines the narratives of Julia Chikamoneka and Alice Lenshina and then compares them to the history of Zambia’s struggle as recorded in Zambian public documents and in the records of the United National Independence Day Party.
Intricately designed installations are created using video, fabric, paper, text and paint to introduce spaces and symbols of memory. These installations can be seen on the one hand as a position of praise for the politically dissident ladies and on the other as counterpoints representing the complexity, ease and in some cases delicacy of memory. For Gladys Kalichini conceptualizes eradication as a perplexing term including distortions, misplacement, distance, non-appearance and blind perspectives.
Marble dust is as resilient as it appears to be ephemeral – much like our bones: the works of Talya Lubinsky reflect on the conjunction of perpetual quality and decay, typical of memorials and cemetery scenes. In these places, the enduring appearance meets the transience of the decaying body. In light of this innate tension, artist Talya Lubinsky‘s work asks questions about doom and restitution, non-appearance and presence.
Her work investigates basic materials that turn out to be undeniable signifiers of wondrous messages, shaping frames and stories. In her exhibition, « If we burn, there is ash » in Johannesburg in 2016, the materials debris and concrete are used to investigate the expected impacts of fire and ignition and their relationship to provincial collections of material culture.
The work « Floating Bodies » created in Bayreuth in 2017 is inspired by a story from a family chronicle and uses barricades as a similitude of the human base to assemble boundaries against the power of a flood, which is here seen as a historical power.
For her exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Talya Lubinsky followed the shapes of these decaying pages and cut them into pieces of marble, which she then, at that moment, organized in space.
The delicacy of the archive is rearranged in marble, a stone regularly used for gravestones.
Talya Lubinsky sees the method used to unearth and restore the completely erased material as a startling image of what has been lost: the inconceivability of reconstitution and compensation on the one hand, and the deeply felt pledge of compensation as an affirmation of submissive shame on the other. Originally from Johannesburg, she is a doctoral student at the Center for Humatities Research in the Faculty of History at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town.