Masimba Hwati. Dialogues with art. More insights into the 56th Venice Biennale 2015 Zimbabwe Pavilion. Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu. Exploring the social and cultural identities of the 21st century. When works or art are created they take on new meanings that keep the concept growing.Msimba Hwati’s ten piece series makes all our visitors appreciate who we are in this life. The way the symbols are instantly identifiable by children as young as two to three years old. These have truly become our urban totems. A totem being a symbol that identifies ones  existence in relation to that which is in our surrounding or that of mythical quality. Masimba Hwati’s series ‘Urban totems’ series has what has been described by some of the visitors as being ‘pop and yet at the same time being relevant to our digital era’The element of using denim as the material to print on has fascinated many visitors and artists. The idea of denim was raised by a visitor who spoke of how ‘this transcends into the realm of industrialism and how denim is so constantly been a part of it all but from behind the scenes because we wear it’. Denim has been a part of us for many years and is a fabric that is used in industry and fashion. Shaping our identity. The totems in the portraits give the visitor and impression of being under a form of hypnosis. Controlled by the totem and guided to see. Guided to see the world in a Whats app way, twitter way, Google way and KFC way. Most visitors relate with the concept of Ubuntu/ Unhu as they observe how people no longer speak to each other verbally/ directly. A pleasing series to walk through as the portraits look back at you and remind you that you too are on whatsapp and Face Book and also drink coca cola. Our urban self. 

Masimba Hwati is interested in the memory and energy of traditional objects and the space they occupy in the urban world. His work explores the transformation and evolvement of Indigenous knowledge systems.

The dialogue contained in his work questions the “thinking” behind today’s modern thought and explores the altruistic possibilities that exists in non-material cultures

Masimba Hwati
Masimba Hwati. An insight into the work on exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015 Zimbabwe Pavilion. Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu.Exploring the social and cultural identities of the 21st centuryMasimba Hwati has a series that is called ‘Urban Totems’. His series is the first eye catcher as you enter the Pavilion. His series has proven to be really connecting with the day to day technology and industry and how these are impacting on our perception of the world. ‘Urban Totems’ has successfully connected with a larger range of visitors in terms of age. From young children who can instantly decipher symbols such as twitter, yahoo and Bart Simpson to adults who can interpret the aggressive impact of super business powers. A true test on the actual impact these symbols have on globally. Hwati has an interesting element to his work and that is the buttons that are placed at the base of almost each of his ‘Urban Totems’ series. These have caused great curiosity in the visitors. Some from an older generation can relate to the games they used to play with buttons. The aim was to throw a button and aim for the marked circle. If one aims well then they win all the thrown buttons. The idea being to contrast the innocence of children with the aggressive approach of the social and consumer media. A very strong ten piece series that immediately relates to a current state of existence. In the name of what we call ‘progress’, and ‘development’ our Ubuntu/ Unhu is being challenged.

Masimba says, “I’m looking at how these systems co-exist with current paradigms .The idea of “Harmonic incongruence” and juxtaposition of esoteric cultural elements with Modern mainstream symbolism is an underpinning factor in this thought process.

His Urban totems series questions whether technology’s pixilating of our Ubuntu/Unhu has enhanced or distorted our humanity.

Credits: Story

Doreen sibanda- Commissioner
Raphael Chikukwa -Chief Curator
Tafadzwa Gwetai - Assistant Curator
Paul Bradley Venice Conultant

Gareth Nyandoro- Artist
Chikonzero Chazunguza - Artist
Masimba Hwati - Artist

Silus Matopa - coordinating team
Fadzai Muchemwa - coordinating team

Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe

Swiss Agency for Development and Coorperation .SDC

Culture Fund

European Union


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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