Multidiscilpinary artist Victor Ehikhamenor is currently on a residency program in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a part of his residency activity line up, he is presenting a live performance & installation show at one of South Africa’s renowned art space, Gallery Momo in Johannesburg. The one day event is titled “Mapping The Landscape Within” and it is scheduled to hold on Thursday April 14th, 2016.
The premise and context of the presentation as stated by the curator, Beathur Mgoza Baker arises from various experiences of violation and discrimination of Africans by Africans. According to her, “Mapping the Landscape Within critically examines the confusion of displacement, inequity of discrimination, and the effect of alienation on the self as ‘other’.”
Victor Ehikhamenor narrates his personal experience and inspiration behind Mapping The Landscape Within.
“I was inspired by my own harrowing experience one night, not long after I arrived in Johannesburg for an art residency. I knew of and have heard about it – but I did not believe it could happen to me until it did. I had gone to a book reading, an evening celebrating pan-African authors and had done so with a good friend, fellow artist and author Niq Mhlongo – a likeable and streetwise South African who offered to drop me off at my hotel afterward. I gratefully accepted and off we went to Braamfontain where, as we drove we noticed that a police van was tailing us. We stopped to park and the two officers stopped behind us and asked us who we were.
I told him I was an artist and a writer in South Africa on a residency, I also showed him my ID and a copy of my book “ Excuse Me” with my name on it as the author, yet the officer asked me to raise my hands and did a body search, emptying all my pockets and wallet, as well as my laptop and camera bag.
The same thing was happening to Niq on the other side of the car.
I felt violated and the ground shifted from my feet, bringing to reality my current visual treatment of Alex La Guma’s celebrated book: “A Walk In The Night” on canvas, a text I first read as a teenager during my undergraduate studies in Nigeria.”
“How do we expect racism to stop when we are even discriminating against our fellow Africans?” This comment on a blog that examines social issues in Africa brings into focus a bigger picture on the above experience of Victor Ehikhamenor in an African city. The performance is a timely and important social and artistic and intervention to open up dialogue around the uncharted areas of daily life and overall compromised existence most South Africans will never experience, but which many Africans across the continent do.
Explaining further on the purpose of the performance and installation, the artist states: The performance is not necessarily a reenactment of that fateful night, but to look at the space of the black man in his own continent, acceptance and rejection and that consistent shifting of the landscape within, from colonialism to apartheid to post-colonization hangover and brutalization of citizens by the “native sons” who find themselves in power and uniforms.
The most important question the presentation poses is “who determines where we belong and why?”
A discussion between Ehikhamenor and celebrated South Africa author, columnist and outspoken media commentator Ndumiso Ngcobo follows the 20 minutes performance. They will discuss the artist’s body of similar works and outlook on the issues raised.