It must be an incredibly complex and long process to create a performance art piece of this nature. Could you run us through what the process is in terms of what your roles are and how you usually kick off the creative process and work together to produce the final piece?
Mzoxolo: As a duo Adilson and I understand the different elements we hold in our individual practices. Adilson has a vast knowledge of Western art history and the key figures that hold positions of acclaim within it. Adilson’s practice is then located in the notions of overturning the master narrative which exists in Western art history through the tool of burlesque parody.
Adilson: Mzo’s practice is located in exploring and interrogating the construct of the black body and its identity in relation to the experiences of African histories, culture, traumas, fragmented memories and representation whilst attending to the complexities of being ‘African’ – in the past, present and future. This is all within the context of confronting the Western supposed global histories that exist whilst inserting and rewriting a new African perspective.
His work is located in the utilisation of performance as the body is his primary tool to invocate conversation around different concepts of human identity. This then is mediated through our use of different mediums: print-making, sculpture, painting, performance, video art, etc. This therefore brings about a sense of an ever growing ‘multi-chotomy’ of perspective.
Mzoxolo: All of our concepts are conceived, nurtured and executed by us right through from start to end. We bounce ideas back and forth between us up until the last video is edited or final layer of silkscreen is pulled and framed.
Adilson: So too is our work located in the field of anthropological research. Every aspect and detail that exists in this exhibition echoes hours of engagement with reading materials, visual, and audio media information as well as critically engaging in conversation with diverse astute persons who are masters in their specific fields.
In terms of Magolide as a collective, could you tell us a little more about your collaborators and how you work together? Are they your regular collaborators, or do people come in and out of this collective as needed?
Mzoxolo: Hafiza Asmal, Vincent Baloyi and Gabriel Baard are the primary collaborators of this exhibition as they enacted and performed different roles and characters as a reimagining of Africa’s omitted histories and representations. Moreover, Hafiza brought in a unique voice with elements of her individual artistic practice in relation to our overarching concept as the Magolide duo.
Adilson: With regards to ubaba Vincent Baloyi and our collaboratively working with him, Mzo and I create, curate, and direct works and shows which aim to herald a call for inclusion, as well as the overturning of convention evident throughout art history of forgotten and omitted modernists. We are working with Vincent to ensure he is inserted and re-established into the South African history of art…
Mzoxolo: …and hopefully this partnership with Vincent will serve as a vehicle through which his artistic practice can have a well-deserved and hard-earned light shining upon it in the art world.
Adilson: Vincent Baloyi is a name that rarely comes up in conversation when one discusses Eduardo Villa, Sam Nhlengethwa, Rorkes Drift and many more crucial aspects of South Africa’s art history. Based on his timeline and geographical locations he was producing the same level of work as the artists mentioned above, and part of a collective of black modernists performing avant-garde gambits crucial to the formation of South African art history.
Mzoxolo: With regards to Zaire we collaborated on a series of metal sculptures in which his conceptual and technical mastery of the sculptural medium are in conversation with our performance video/3D-printed sculptures. Overall, there is a merging of his sculptural ideas into our broader concept of Zaire which talks to the erasure and forgotten histories and representation in the art world. Particularly, in the literal sense of a forgotten legendary artist such as himself.
Adilson: Going forward with future projects we’re looking forward to working with more practicing artists with regards to collaboration.
What are some of the biggest challenges in terms of converging the world of cutting-edge tech with the world of art?
Adilson: The biggest challenge is the lack of understanding around the medium of Virtual Reality (VR) and augmented reality, as it is still in its infancy with regards to how far it can be pushed in the artistic realm. In the South African art world, the medium is still perceived as a gimmick and thus most artists who have engaged with the medium do so with minimum understanding about how creatively expansive this medium actually is.
Many South African art collectors and art institutions are anxious about the medium as a collectable artistic object. So making money from this medium is still something many people are trying to navigate. As such, Ann Roberts (Director of TMRW) is one of the people at the helm of creating a market and a framework around this medium, and provides educational information around how this work can be used side by side with traditional mediums, informing the future with the past.
Mzoxolo: Adilson and I work to overcome any challenges that we encounter, and working as an artist working in this new medium of VR whilst establishing ourselves in the art world has been a big lesson. A point of reference is how we took something as ephemeral as a VR illusion, existing as a technological file, and then transcribed parts of it into something tactile and tangible by making the oculus (3D goggles in which you view the VR work) into sculptural objects. We did this by making the oculus part of a sculpture with which the audience must engage. This speaks directly to the alchemy of what Magolide is about and tries to do –transmuting materials from one form into another, a new gold standard of visual and virtual objects.
How do you go about creating your characters, such as ‘Colonial Bart’ (Silkscreen on Canvas), a gun-slinging Bart Simpson?
Adilson: Bart stands as a representation of a visual aesthetic language I grew up engaging with. Animators from the late 80s and 90s – specifically those which produced shows for MTV – nurtured my need to work with these popular culture icons as a tool of critique. The Bart character was inspired by Brett Murrays’ Africa, and thus became a parody of his work. The conception of the ‘Colonial Bart’ – or just the use of the Bart Simpson mask – comes from an inherent resentment I harbour towards the majority of white, post-apartheid South African artists, who used the language and guise of resistance art to position and assert their ‘value’ conceptually, technically and, as a byproduct, monetarily in the cannon of South African art history.
In many ways the ‘Colonial Bart’ speaks to the voyeuristic and consumerist implication of white homogeny in the creation of knowledge systems and cultural mechanisms which dictate the consumption of the value in art and other cultural spheres and histories. Locally and abroad, voyeurism is used as a tool that privileges the white artist and the white body in all respects and ‘Colonial Bart’ strives to expose those prejudices and biases through the use of humour and parody.