Madness and Civilization is a solo exhibition by Kudzanai Chiurai (born 1981, Zimbabwe) featuring mixed media works on paper, photographs, film, and installation. The exhibition reflects on Chiurai’s politically-driven research and creative projects over the past three years. Taking its title from Michel Foucault’s seminal 1964 text Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, the exhibition is in keeping with Chiurai’s practice of revisiting and rejecting the post-colonial nation state and ‘colonial futures’, which fuel the notion that Africans should think, speak, and act like their colonizers. In so doing, he interrogates the role of religion, language, history, national archives, commerce, capitalism, patriarchy, as well as the visual language and tropes that help construct myths, history, and ultimately, power.
Tracing political histories in Zimbabwe and neighbouring Southern African countries from the early Christian missions, through colonialism and the struggle for independence, Chiurai foregrounds the notion of music as an important tool for resistance and communication. Beyond experiencing the work visually, mobile listening stations invite visitors to listen to a selection of Chiurai’s vinyl records, which include Zimbabwean Chimurenga and South African anti-apartheid struggle music, as well as rare recordings of speeches by Ian Smith, Kwame Nkrumah, Mobutu Sese Seko, Dr Martin Luther King, author Alex Haley, and a dramatic re-enactment of the trial of Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale. Finally, the acclaimed film We Live in Silence: Chapters 1-7 highlights the innovations – through a unique commissioned soundtrack and visually striking filmography – that have characterised Chiurai’s practice in recent years.
With special thanks to the Goodman Gallery, South Africa.