Mountains of My Youth:
Mountains of My Youth
Temporal Distance (with
Collage and mixed-media works
Faxed sketches of ideas
Portrait of the artist
Still in his early twenties, the visually articulate Moshekwa Langa is one of South Africa's most in-demand international artists. His installations, videos and collages are fresh and surprising, often provocative, yet exhibit a depth and sureness of touch astonishing in one so young. In her proposal for the 1998 São Paulo Biennale, curator Lorna Ferguson had this to say: "Langa is engaged in projects which seek to constantly dislocate the assumed centres of power from within. Through the use of his own mapping devices of erasure, annotation and recordings, he inscribes the cartography of his own identity on to that which previously sought to control through definition. Yet he resists the idea that one can possess one's own identity."
Materials for his drawings and installations are whatever comes to hand - bubble wrap, cigarette butts, toys, spools of cotton, street maps, advertisements - anything can be transformed into a marker in a world created by Langa. Titles are often literary, riddle like, alluding both to a personal history and universal experience. He is the subject of his own videos, producing work that is at the same time both funny and primal, like his True Confessions: My Life as a Disco Queen. Refusing to be classified as a black artist from Africa, Langa neatly sidesteps all attempts to package him as the latest art world commodity, forcing his viewing audience to set aside all preconceptions, and engage with what Langa chooses to set before it.
Before going to São Paulo, Langa wrote: "My intention in São Paulo is to invent an accomplice (working name: John Ruskin). Because Moshekwa has to answer stupid questions most of the time - 'Where is Africa in your work?' - we will both be able to answer and I think having this personage might go a long way to deflecting confining thinking. My/our work will be seen in an altered state and not within the limits of simply 'African art'. I am very keen to make this kind of confusion - whose work is which? which work is more authentically 'African'? In other words I want to show that there are multiple forms of influence and that I and other African artists meander and incorporate different forms." And some years earlier: "My work is not about anything. My work has to do with things."
On February 23, 5 000 square feet in the Centre d'Art Contemporain in Geneva will be given over to Langa's first museum solo show, curated by Paolo Colombo, with work that includes photographs, videos, large-scale drawings and paintings. The show will run until May 23, and travel plans are still to be announced.
Langa is currently exhibiting drawings in acryclic and nail polish in Bonn (see News).
Langa has just completed a two-year stint at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, his first experience in a tertiary art institution. During that time, he exhibited in four international biennales and any number of shows. Earlier last year, he was one of the six finalists for the 1998 Vita Art Prize (South Africa).
In March 1999, Langa will be part of a show called 'The New Worlds', involving artists from South Africa, Canada and Australia, at Canada House in London.
Born in Bakenberg, South Africa
1999 Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva
Selected group exhibitions
1998 'Memorias, Intimas, Marcas', Electric Workshop, Johannesburg
Johannesburg Transitional Metropolitan Council
Private collections in Johannesburg, London, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Sydney