Enfilade

Exhibition | Senses of Time: Video and Film-based Works of Africa

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 5, 2016

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Yinka Shonibare MBE, still from Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), 2004, high-definition digital video, 32 minutes
(Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York)

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Now on view at LACMA and the National Museum of African Art:

Senses of Time: Video and Film-based Works of Africa
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 20 December 2015 — 2 January 2017
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., 18 May 2016 — 2 January 2017

Our hearts beat to the rhythms of biological time and continents drift in geological time, while we set our watches to the precision of naval time. Time may seem easy to measure, but it can be challenging to understand. The six African artists featured in Senses of Time explore how time is experienced—and produced—by the body. Bodies stand, climb, dance, and dissolve in seven works of video and film—or ‘time-based’—art. Characters and the actions they depict repeat, resist, and reverse the expectation that time must move relentlessly forward. Senses of Time invites viewers to consider tensions between personal and political time, ritual and technological time, bodily and mechanical time. Through pacing, sequencing, looping, layering, and mirroring, diverse perceptions of time are embodied and expressed.

History repeats itself as Yinka Shonibare MBE’s European ballroom dancers in sumptuous African-print fabric gowns dramatize the absurdities of political violence, while Sammy Baloji choreographs a haunting exploration of memory and forgetting in the ruins of postcolonial deindustrialization. Sue Williamson sensitively highlights the generational gaps wrought by time, while Berni Searle addresses genealogical time in one work as ancestral family portraits are tossed by the winds and focuses on the slippages and fragility of time and personal identity in another. Moataz Nasr’s work treads upon identities distorted by the march of time as Theo Eshetu draws us into a captivating kaleidoscopic space where past, present, and future converge.

Senses of Time was co-organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

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Yinka Shonibare MBE, excerpt from Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), 2004, high-definition digital video, 32 minutes (Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York). As noted by the NMAfA: “In Un Ballo in Maschera, Yinka Shonibare MBE interweaves and subverts the geographies and temporal assumptions that shape narratives of tradition and modernity. The artist draws on Giuseppe Verdi’s 1859 opera of the same name about the 18th-century Swedish king Gustav III, who was assassinated at a masked ball while his countrymen fought a war far from home. In Shonibare’s rendition, the event is an allegory for political hubris—with the artist specifically thinking of the Iraq war—and a playful attempt to reveal that the Western world has its traditions, too. . .”

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