IN her first solo exhibition at an Austrian institution, Zimbabwean artist Kresiah Mukwazhi will present a new body of textile paintings next to video works.
In her mother tongue Shona, the show’s title ‘Kirawa’ describes a place of sacred resistance: “In this body of work, I am interested in creating moments of an imaginary safe place where we go to seek healing, fight battles, and find answers. I present a society that is at disharmony and disease because the life-bearers of this world are raped and abused every day. I ask who is responsible. When will it end?”
Trained as a photographer and visual artist in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Mukwazhi works in a variety of media, including mixed-media collage, sculpture, performance, and video.
Her vibrant textile works are often loosely hung on the walls or suspended from the ceiling. Mukwazhi combines materials including canvas, satin, or petticoat, stitching and glueing them together with applications such as sequin.
Painted with acrylic and fabric dyes, female figures emerge from the ground. They perform seemingly vulgar and obscene gestures, hinting at the artist’s inquiries into the arduous working and living conditions of female sex workers in her native Zimbabwe’s patriarchal society.
Often their last resort for supporting themselves, prostitution further exposes them to exploitation and violence.
Against this backdrop of precarization and marginalization, Mukwazhi’s work scrupulously carves out forms of resistance and self-empowerment.
Mutual support and encouragement, together with humor as a weapon and means of resistance, are recurring themes in the artist’s work.
Mukwazhi was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1992, and lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Cologne, Germany.
The exhibition by Mukwazhi is a collaboration between the Secession and Nottingham Contemporary, where it will be presented from 27 May to 3 September 2023