By Panashe Chigumadzi (@panashechig)
A must see exhibition that explores ‘black love’ in complex urban settings.
When I received word on the ‘Corner Loving’ exhibition by MADEYOULOOK, I was immediately excited and rushed to open a book I had just read, ‘The Stone Virgins’ where the author, Yvonne Vera, immortalises the corner and it’s place in black love:
“Ekoneni is a rendezvous, a place to meet. You cannot meet inside any of the buildings because this city is divided, entry is forbidden to black men and women, you meet outside buildings, not at doorways, entries, foyers, not beneath arched windows, not under graceful colonnades, balustrades and cornices, but ekoneni. Here, you linger, ambivalent, permanent as time. You are in transit. The corner is a camouflage, a place of instancy and style; a place of protest. Ekoneni is also a dangerous place, where knives emerge as suddenly as lightning. Death can be quick and easy as purses and handbags are snatched, discarded, and pockets are emptied. Tomorrow is near and forgotten.”
“Ekoneni. Here, love soars or perishes when lovers meet. The purpose of the encounter is to establish which one of the lovers is the survivor, which the quiet mind – which one is imbue with disasters, which is the channel of forgiveness, which one is the accuser, the architect of guilt.”
Though her book is set in 80s Bulawayo, there is no doubt that she speaks so beautifully to a history of the corner that is quite universal in much of black life. If the stated intent is anything to go by, I believe this exhibition by MADEYOULOOK will do the same.
Corner Loving is “an exhibition on the practice of lovers meeting on street corners, is an exploration of love and ‘black love’ in complex urban settings. Exploring the nature of everyday public practice, artist collective MADEYOULOOK is interested in unpacking ordinary acts that may be overlooked as simple and inconsequential, but through deeper reflection, act as vehicles for multi-layered conversations.”
It is an intertextual exhibition that features amongst others, a three-part lecture series by Ashraf Jamal, Danai Mupotsa and Thembinkosi Goniwe; drawings of corners and texts from historical archives and by contemporary writers.
MADEYOULOOK is made of Molemo Moiloa and Nare Mokgotho, who aim to create thought-provoking exhibitions and artworks “that encourage a re-observation of and de-familiarization with the ordinary.” They have roped in more young black talent by collaborating with Pandeani Liphosa, Nolan Dennis, Buyani Duma and Pamella Dlungwana.
After a history and present where aspects of black life generally, and black love specifically have been pathologised, problematised and othered, the fact that the the exhibition is one where the story of black love is being told and explored by young black creatives is the most exciting and important thing to me.
Definitely ones to watch.
I definitely can’t wait to check it out. Hope to see you at the last lecture this week. For more information on this week’s lecture by Thembinkosi Goniwe, see the Facebook page here.