MARTE-C debuts Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s recreation of the last supper

Video still from “Iyeza.” Image courtesy Goodman Gallery.

Video still from “Iyeza.” Image courtesy Goodman Gallery.

San Salvador/New York, Aug 2014: Kudzanai Chiurai’s epic 11-minute video work “Iyeza (State of the Nation, 2011)” is an allegory of Christianity’s last supper. Although the video mimics the format of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting “The Last Supper,” Chiurai presents the central characters as African. Chiurai explores the present context of violence and civil war on the continent, as well as what it means to be African within the context of mainstream history. Created in 2011 and exhibited internationally, “Iyeza” opens at MARTE on November 20 at 7pm, and is presented by MARTE Contemporary (MARTE-C) in partnership with Zeitz MoCAA, Cape Town.

Based in Zimbabwe, Kudzanai Chiurai is no stranger to international attention exhibiting in Finland, the United Kingdom and as part of MoMA New York’s 2011 exhibition “Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now,” to name a few. Since graduating from the University of Pretoria with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts—the first black student to do so—Chiurai has become a respected figure of the African art community and was voted one of the “10 African artists to look out for” by the Guardian in March this year. Chiurai’s film “Iyeza” is arguably his best-known work and has been shown at museums and galleries internationally, as well as at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. In addition to exploring matriarchal and gender relations, Chiurai also explores what Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor describes as “Afro-pessimism,” that is, the negative and derailed depiction of Africa in the media. Chiurai addresses this desensitization to African imagery and activates his characters in an extended action that unfolds throughout the duration of the video against an overtly romanticized backdrop that has a strong religious and social undertone.  

 Chuirai explains: “We live within a given temporality, almost as we talk within a language. The powers that create and enforce temporalities are institutions, governing the organizations of life and production. The temporality they promote serves first of all their self-preservation. Religious churches and gods postulate a temporal structure of eternity and immortality, state and democracy rely on a linear historical temporality allowing for progress and individual action.”

 Although the videos characters appear foreign to El Salvador, the work’s themes are relevant against the backdrop of Salvadoran political elections, and history of civil war.  Mario Cader-Frech, Chair Emeritus of MARTE-C comments: ” By partnering with world-class institutions like Zeitz MoCAA, MARTE-C is able to bring this work, and others like it, to San Salvador, with the aim of cultivating critical conversations around key social issues that are pertinent to our contest. Under the guidance of chief curator Claire Breukel it is our goal to expand the programs reach to new borders.”

 Roberto Galicia, Director of MARTE, comments: “MARTE is proud to be an institution that showcases artists’ work from around the world. This exhibition, like many of the modern and contemporary exhibitions we host, makes an important contribution to our education program, and affords the many school groups we invite to the museum exposure to ideas from another part of the world.”

 “Iyeza” will be on view at MARTE from November 20, 2014- January 18, 2015.

 Kudzanai Chiurai is represented by Goodman Gallery in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information and high-resolution images please email claire@martecontemporary.org or call +1 917 704 5319 (USA).

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MARTE Contemporary staff with university students at the exhibition opening/ Personal MARTE Contemporáneo con los estudiantes universitarios en la inauguración de la exposición

MARTE Contemporary staff with university students at the exhibition opening/ Personal MARTE Contemporáneo con los estudiantes universitarios en la inauguración de la exposición