The Zeitz MOCAA presents until September 03, 2023, an exhibition that examines black self-portraiture in painting. Entitled “When We See Us”, this exhibition celebrates the subjectivities of the world and black consciousness from the perspective of the African diaspora.
The “When We See Us” exhibition will include works by artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Zandile Tshabalala, Jacob Lawrence, Chéri Samba, Danielle McKinney, Archibald Diverse, Ben Enwonwu, Kingsley Sambo, Sungi Mlengeya, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Cyprien Tokoudagba, Amy Sherald, Mmapula Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, and Bliss Labinjo, among many others.
With a focus on painting, explicitly works created from the 1920s to the present, When We See Us celebrates how artists from Africa and its diaspora have envisioned, situated, commemorated and declared African encounters.
The title of the exhibition is prompted by the film “When They See Us,” by Ava DuVernay, a 2019 American drama series. It depicts different types of brutality against dark bodies as they are still seen around the world today.
The shift from “they” to “we” is a persuasive shift that focuses the discussion on a differential view of self-composition, according to Achille Mbembe’s hypothesis.
“When We See Us“ is the largest exhibition of this extension to hang on the African continent and includes more than 200 masterpieces from the past 100 years.
The exhibition is related to the affirmation of organization and self-confidence in the black world. Therefore, the flexibility, embodiment, and political charge of black joy and black ordinariness are essential to this exhibition.
The exhibition highlights how the different ages of artists have appreciated and fundamentally participated in the expansion of different ideas of Africanness that are self-intelligent and challenge the imposed view of Black cultures.
“When We See Us” presents the creative genealogies, art schools and developments from the Nsukka School in Nigeria, the Dakar School in Senegal, the Kumasi School in Ghana and the British Black Arts Movement to the Expressive Arts Division of Makerere University in Uganda and the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in South Africa, to give a few examples.