Archive: Issue No. 104, April 2006

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Bad for your health, but good for your soul: Mustafa Maluka at the VMCAA
by Carine Zaayman

The Virtual Museum of Contemporary African Art in the Netherlands, has been hosting (since 2001), Mustafa Maluka's Bad for your health, Wrong Colour (, among a number of other online projects. This is an interactive work that extends Maluka's painterly aesthetics (most commonly known locally) into the realm of digital media. It offers a multi media experience, in which his paintings are combined with digital image and text, and another of Maluka's loves, Hip-Hop.

After a somewhat lengthy download time (the project is rather heavy for South African bandwidth), we are told to 'participate and observe...' as a row of images rolls in for the viewer to peruse. Upon clicking any of these images, new windows are opened to reveal what might be described as kinds of 'interactive paintings'. These paintings include Money is of no use in the jungle, Who am I? and The weight of being a minority role model.

Maluka combines the kinds of imagery and surfaces we frequently find in his paintings, such as portraits, textured fields and so on, with line drawing, photographs and interactive Flash elements, to bring his material to online life. Central to Maluka's work are concerns around race, identity, consumer culture and role of music in social development and expression, all of which are present in this piece. At the VMCAA site, Mieke Bal, from the University of Amsterdam, provides a guided tour of the project, in which she expounds on some of these issues and they way in which they are addressed in the project.

The irreverent and challenging attitude apparent in his other painting remains intact in this project. As he explains in his statement: 'i fart in the face of commodification with my unique bouquet of sweet revolutionary perfume A punch in the face of illusion I FART IN THE FACE OF COMMODIFIED REPRESENTATION ignorant masses listen up i am a figment of your imagination I DO NOT REPRESENT TRUTH illusions of oasis I am not a circus monkey. I am not entertainment.'

Maluka has, however, been very active since the time of this project, and one can find information on his activities on his webpage: This page includes a gallery of work, as well as a blog, where one can learn more about Maluka's activities in the arenas of art, music and performance, and his social and cultural concerns.

More information on Maluka, as well as an interview with Sophie Perryer, can be found on the Michael Stevenson Contemporary website:, where the artist is frequently featured. Maluka is also currently the Spier Arts Trust Visual Artist for the 2006 Summer Arts Season ( The artist's musical activities can be followed on African Hip Hop Radio a platform on which Maluka is highly active.