Gcotyelwa Mashiqa (South Africa), AKO Foundation Assistant Curator of Photography, Centre for Photography, Zeitz MOCAA
Bafana Zembe (South Africa) Wendy Fisher Assistant Curator of Photography, Centre for Photography, Zeitz MOCAA
Independence from colonial rule came with a responsibility for African leaders to construct new democratic symbols of nationhood. Chiurai’s work invites us to consider how the symbols of an African heroic male figure can be challenged. It also reflects on the role of women as victims, observers, witnesses and sometimes initiators in the violence that ensues during conflict and power struggles.
The attempt of nations to find a resolution to the political, religious, and cultural cycle of conflict in the post-colonial era is depicted throughout Chiurai’s work. He challenges the fallacy of an independent state and reimagines a feminist nation where female empowerment is admired by men. Women are no longer subjected to political violence but represented as the country’s decision makers–revolutionary leaders and holy saints–all in control of their own symbolic power.
The alternative nation states in Chiurai’s work are transformed as places where the marginalised can envision a hopeful future with women being recognised participants in the building of democracy.