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Immersive two-person exhibition featured in the South African Pavilion
Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2016. Featuring Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore. Right to Left: Farah Abdi Mohamed, José Maria João, Luis Ernesto Nava Molero 7-Channel Installation: 7 Hard Drives. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Outset Germany and Medienboard (Berlin-Brandenburg). Courtesy: Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), Kaufmann Repetto (Milan) and KOW (Berlin). Installation View: Kunstmuseum Stuttgart Photograph: Die Arge Lola.

VENICE.- The South African Department of Arts and Culture presents Candice Breitz + Mohau Modisakeng, an immersive two-person exhibition in the South African Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, running from 13 May - 26 November, 2017.

South Africa’s Commissioner, Titi Nxumalo, said she is delighted that Breitz and Modisakeng accepted the invitation to represent South Africa. “Experimental film provides a captivating environment for viewers, and it was with the intention of creating a multi-media installation that the artists were selected. Breitz is an internationally acclaimed artist, best known for her multi-channel video installations, while Modisakeng’s award-winning career is defined by his film, photography and sculpture. Their practices come together for South Africa’s first exclusively cinematic experience.”

Curated by Lucy MacGarry and Musha Neluheni on behalf of project lead, Connect Channel, the exhibition explores the disruptive power of storytelling in relation to historical and contemporary waves of forced migration. Breitz’s seven-channel installation, Love Story (2016), interrogates the conditions under which empathy is produced. Featuring Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore, the work is based on and includes dense interviews with six refugees. Modisakeng’s threechannel installation, Passage (2017), meditates on slavery’s dismemberment of African identity and its enduring erasure of personal histories.

MacGarry describes the artists’ works as articulations of our past and current state of “refugeeness” within a global context of exclusion and transience. What is it to be visible in everyday life, yet invisible at the level of cultural and political representation?

Throughout her internationally acclaimed career, Candice Breitz has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that community the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped, not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion, but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media like television, cinema and popular culture. Most recently, Breitz’s work has focused on the conditions under which empathy is produced, reflecting on a media-saturated global culture in which strong identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real world adversities. Mohau Modisakeng’s internationally exhibited photography, performance and installation work forms a personal and idiosyncratic exploration of a local narrative. Informed by a coming-of-age during South Africa’s violent political transition, his practice grapples with black male identity, body and place within a postapartheid context. Modisakeng presents critical responses to ideas of nationhood, leadership, inequality and migrant labour that manifest visually as poignant moments of grieving and catharsis central to the current lived experience of contemporary South Africans.

Commenting on the exhibition, South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, said that he is proud to support the promotion of Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng as leading voices in the country’s visual arts landscape. “South Africa has been participating at the Venice Biennale since 2011, after a long absence on the international platform. 2017 is the moment for our country to take an ambitious leap towards being amongst the very best pavilions in Venice.”

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