Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sun Never Sets
Kapwani Kiwanga’s first solo exhibition in Africa, The Sun Never Sets runs at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg from October 21 to November 18, 2017. The exhibition offers a contemplative analysis of nature and the human histories it belies. Kiwanga’s anthropological background informs the research methodology in her practice. In recent work, the artist deploys archival material to look at how the natural world has been used in human endeavors and how that use (and abuse) is reflected in the physical landscapes left behind. In this way, Kiwanga’s work serves as a comment on colonialism, a project that, by its intent and definition, was about the use of the land and its resources.
The film The Sun Never Sets is a montage of the sun setting in multiple locations, through collaboration with videographers around the world. The foremost significance of the chosen locations is that they are in countries that were once, or are still, under British subjection, evoking the saying from which both the exhibition and the video draw their title: ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’. The work sets up the temporal notion that colonialism persists even after independence in various contemporary forms, a notion echoed by many living and observing post-colonial experiences.
This motif is heightened in the Flowers for Africa series, where the reconstructed flower arrangements are left to wilt during the course of the exhibition, speaking to the thwarted hope experienced by African countries post-independence.
Through subtle metaphor, careful investigation and weaving together various materially rich elements, Kiwanga creates a quietly impactful exhibition where history is immediate and nature is an earnest witness to human experience.
Kiwanga (b. Hamilton, Canada) whose multinational identity includes ties to Tanzania, studied Anthropology and Comparative Religion at McGill University. Earlier this year, she participated in Documenta 14 in Athens and featured in Goodman Gallery’s major group exhibition New Revolutions. Kiwanga has exhibited at museums around the world, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Glasgow Center of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art of Dublin and the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris.
April 08, 2021