The Sunday Mail
OVER the years, Zimbabwe has produced many talented artists who have gone on to lift the country’s flag on the international stage.
Installation artist, Anne Zanele Mutema, has joined this cast of flag bearers with her exhibition at the ongoing Toronto Biennial of Art.
The fete started on March 25 and will run up to June 5.
The Toronto Biennial of Art is Canada’s leading visual arts event focused exclusively on contemporary art from around the world.
For 10 weeks, every two years, artists transform Toronto and its partner regions with free exhibitions, performances and learning opportunities.
Mutema’s installation titled “Systemic Necropolis” is part of an exhibition project “Ngozi: We Might Listen for the Shimmerings” that is being organised by Zimbabwean-born and Canada-based curator Chiedza Pasipanodya.
This is also part of the 2022 Curatorial Fellowship programme, made possible by the TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment, with support from the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council.
“‘Systemic Necropolis’ is a glorified memorial site for my memories. Mitsvairo (brooms) functions as a time capsule, an object embodying an event,” said Mutema while describing her exhibition.
“The red string represents a bloodline that connects the memories. Stitching serves as a cathartic process in my life. The plastic cocoons are different from one another just as each memory embodies and occupies a different space, a distinct point in time. Systemic Necropolis is a congregation or coming together of the event.”
The broom in Shona culture is often seen as an ordinary but sacred object, one that is not left outside at night. It is often hung or kept carefully in a designated place in the home.
It is also used by traditional healers as a tool for cleansing energies.
In this work, Mutema uses the ordinary to explore and build upon the memory of an event, and to understand the relevance of the human body beyond presenting it figuratively.
She is a conceptual installation artist preoccupied with ideas of space, memory and phenomenology.
The artist studied cinematography at the Zimbabwe Institute of Photography and Cinematography in 2009 and graduated from the National Gallery Visual Art Studio in 2010.
Mutema creates immersive installations focused on an event, defined for her as a phenomenon located at a single point in time in the context of self, culture and history.
Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
Before travelling to Toronto, the artist also opened her first major solo exhibition at the First Floor Gallery Harare titled “Ranezuro Rangu Ngariziye”.
The exhibition which attracted many art lovers in the capital gave audiences a gift of an inspirational immersive installation.
Built around the idea of challenging the push by media, politics and commerce to reduce people’s decisions to black and white, the installation creates experiences that coax each person towards focusing on their being and feeling, to recapture their personal vision and belief, not one they have been taught or sold.
In the exhibition text, Mutema explains further: “We are raised to believe in certainties. Our education relies on certitude. 2+2 = 4, always, we are told. February follows January, the dry season follows the rain, 60 minutes always makes an hour.
“We are also taught to believe in certain immutable values, rights and wrongs, the good and the evil. Then real life comes in and we are taught to be realistic, which means, starting with our values. These ‘realistic’ shades of grey are less about nuance and more about compromise, less about engaging with complexity and more about cognitive dissonance…”