Friday 14 January 2022

Tracey Rose shows over 30 years of retrospective art at Zeitz

DESCRIBED as the largest retrospective of the artist’s work, spanning 1990 to 2022, the exhibition include performance and the use of the human body, which are central to Rose’s work. But the exhibition, titled Shooting Down Babylon, which runs from 18 February to 28 August 2022, at Zeitz of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), Cape Town, is not recommended for those below the age of 16.

Derived from the title of Rose’s iconic installationShooting Down Babylon (The Art of War)(2016), which reflects on varied exorcist and cleansing rituals, the retrospective will interrogate several themes, including repatriation, recompense and reckoning, and epitomises the wide-ranging medium and concerns prevalent in Rose’s practice. This body of work is an important investigation around post-apartheid legacies and liberation movements, and uses the body – often Rose’s own body – as a site for protest, outrage, resistance and pertinent discourse. For the artist, the body is a channel for the demonstration of exasperation, aggravation, disruption and paradox.

“Very few artists have the genius and thematic agility that South African-born Tracey Rose has. She is able to probe pertinent issues in ways that are sometimes satirical, paradoxical and multifarious all at the same time,” says Koyo Kouoh, Executive Director and Chief Curator at Zeitz MOCAA. “Her versatility in choice of medium and material dexterity is evidenced through her bold performative practice, immersive installation, video, photography, sculpture, painting and drawing.

“Her profound visual lexicon, whose complexities reflect our current time, will be highlighted at Zeitz MOCAA across three floors in an exhibition that celebrates her contribution to the canons in art.”

Born in Durban, South Africa in 1974, Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and a master’s degree in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London in the United Kingdom. She was also trained in editing and cinematography at The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance in Johannesburg.

As part of a generation of artists who have reinvented the artistic gesture, Rose’s rich characters inhabit worlds that act interrelatedly while challenging the prevalent aesthetics and emergence of dominant cultural narratives of struggle and reconciliation that can be found in South Africa. To this end, the show will also introduce 10 new commissions that are part of the artist’s Mandela Balls series and will include a programme of performative interventions throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Assistant Curator Tandazani Dhlakama says: “ShootingDown Babylonwill be Rose’s largest comprehensive retrospective to date. It is important to celebrate the work of black women artists from the continent, and to acknowledge the immense contributions they are making to contemporary art discourse. Through this exhibition, visitors will be able to gain in-depth insight into three decades of Rose’s practice. The themes in the exhibition, which stem from post-colonial entanglements, are relevant to our present times. Rose’s work highlights her critical vision and social commentary.”

Zeitz MOCAA will also host a two-day symposium centred around Rose’s work in June 2022, which will mark the launch of an extensive monograph on Rose’s practice. The 400-page publication will include contributions from Adrienne Edwards, Kellie Jones, Gabi Ngcobo, Khwezi Gule, Simon Njami and more, and will expand on significant themes in Rose’s work such as absurdity, religion, spirituality, gender and sexuality, race, and the body.

“We are thrilled to finally launch this profound exhibition, which was originally intended to open in 2020 but was pushed back due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” adds Kouoh. “The day has finally come and we cannot be more excited for this show.”

Shooting Down Babylon by Tracey Rose will open onFriday, 18 February 2022 on Levels 0, 2 and 3 of Zeitz MOCAA.

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