Critics’ Picks

Loyiso Mkize, Exodus: The Heroic Age, 2018, ink on paper, 11 1/2 x 21'.

Loyiso Mkize, Exodus: The Heroic Age, 2018, ink on paper, 11 1/2 x 21'.

Cape Town

“Still Here Tomorrow to High Five You Today”

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
V&A Waterfront, Silo District, S Arm Road
January 30–June 30, 2019

The wall texts for this exhibition of work by nearly two dozen artists engaging with African time, myth, and futurity draw from a durable pantheon of speculative thinkers—among them Ben Okri, Sun Ra, and Octavia Butler—to elaborate thematic displays spread throughout seven rooms. Curator Azu Nwagbogu extracted his title, however, from an eccentric monologue by the Royal Tart Toter, an aging gingerbread man in the animated series Adventure Time. The reference is fitting. Western pop flotsam has been washing up all across the globe for decades, including in pre-independence Senegal.

Senegalese artist Abdoulaye Ndiaye’s twenty-three paintings from the 1940s and ’50s reproduce, in loose, signwriter’s freehand, buff superheroes, B-movie monsters, and, joyfully, the outraged moon first described by Georges Méliès. Abdoulaye’s panel paintings are installed adjacent to South African Loyiso Mkize’s ink-on-paper mural Exodus: The Heroic Age, 2018, a hagiography that includes Nelson Mandela, Mad Max-era Tina Turner, and Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby Atepa’s puzzling African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, here tweaked so that the central figure appears as a black Superman.

Comics also inform the work of American Kumasi J. Barnett, whose neon text sculpture The Amazing Black Man, 2018, is a Pop counterpoint to South African Atang Tshikare’s seven painstaking drawings of hybrid animal-plant forms based on Tswana myth: Leano la polao (Underhanded Preying), 2018, depicts two subterranean figures with cloven hoofs. These headless beings resemble Tshikare’s biomorphic sculpture Itjhebe, 2018, made from wood, beads, and woven reeds. Two nearly canonical Afrofuturist works anchor the show: Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu’s dystopian fantasy Pumzi, 2010, a short film about a dreamy botanist, and fourteen photographs from Cristina de Middel’s The Afronauts, 2012, a fantastical, multimedia retelling of the space age’s impact on Zambian science teacher Edward Makuka.