The summer group show pairs photographic work with sculptural paper pieces, to create a vision of desolation and minimalism, a nameless, placeless space of slow urban decay and shifting history. This sense of blankness quietly strips bare the grand guiding narratives of history to reveal whispers of disappointment - an unnamed unease which pervades the present moment.
Paper and textiles are recurrent elements in Joël Andrianomeariso’s work; split, folded, creased and woven, he creates a myriad of compositions from his materials. In Passion Labyrinth (2014), Andrianomearisoa creates a three-line grid of fragile folded black paper. The different folds of the paper overlap, blend and contrast, creating a fluid enquiry into the notions of fantasy and reality, emotion and truth; the varied textures and monochrome, repetitive nature of the work invoke a multitude of meanings and emotions.
Edson Chagas’ photo series Found Not Taken (2009) explores physical and cultural displacement by documenting the everyday objects of Luanda, the city in which the artist was born. The work arises from Chagas’ interest in the emergent culture of disposability and his hometown’s developing consumerism in the face of economic advancement. Having grown up in a culture where everything had traditionally been re-used or repurposed, the presence of these found objects - which range from litter to dumped household goods - are the focus of the artist’s attention. In their re-location by the artist, the discarded objects indicate a lack of connection to the physical space, becoming apathetic, ‘private’ fixtures in public settings.
Hailing from the historic seat of the Benin Empire, Victor Ehikhamenor draws inspiration from the dual aesthetic and spiritual traditions which infused his upbringing, using imagery and symbolism from both Edo traditional religion and Catholicism. His signature is the use of semi-abstract patterning which creates a hypnotic experience, a sense of both meditative repetition and an ongoing narrative being told. Storytelling is an important element of his practice, whether the magic realism of memory and nostalgia, or biting criticism of history and politics. The unique perforated works on paper commissioned for the show, including The Palace Singer as a Historian (2017), reflect this preoccupation, referencing political issues in Nigeria both contemporary and historical.
In the series Murmurer (2007), Mouna Karray photographs walls - abandoned architectural barriers that increasingly characterise the cityscape of her hometown Sfax, Tunisia. Karray’s work documents the reality of urban neglect – images of the dilapidated partitions become a metaphor for the state of affairs, arousing the hope of the imminent collapse of the walls, presaged by the heavy cracks, the ripped-up fences, open doors and a flight of steps. In the artist’s words: “From the beginning I was fascinated by the stories the walls seemed to whisper to me. Some of them have been subject to alterations over time. […] The traces of time mark them like scars. It is their status as faulty that suits me”.
Mónica de Miranda’s series Hotel Globo (2016) features an Angolan hotel built in the 1950s. Rich in history and once considered the best in Luanda, de Miranda’s photographs capture a place stuck in time, reflecting the contrasts that define the city itself. Hotel Globo is a meditation on the need to preserve places as symbols of the construction of collective memory. Micro-histories of emotional geography, these structures play an essential role in setting each city and its history apart. The work also stresses the urgent need to rethink models of development and for these models to address the relationship with the past.
In her series Linetrap (2014), de Miranda explores how colonised lands were frequently defined and divided by dominating powers that imposed artificial limits and boundaries. The artist uses a line to rework a fixed and unique landscape, by stitching over the images. Moving between the interior and the exterior of the piece, these lines do not divide, but mend the rifts between the colonisers and the colonised, between the present landscape and lost archipelago of the past.