02.06 - 31.08.2021
‘Hutsanana’ – an online exhibition of 10 artworks by Pardon Mapondera – explores the idea of cleanliness as something that goes beyond the surface of wiping of desk or taking a bath. The artist recognizes that we live in a time where there are various ways of being unclean. His own practice is an attempt to cleanse himself of all the bad he has observed. His idea of being clean is connected to how we live our daily lives as much as our spiritual practices.
There are three works that allow us to explore this concept further. In Tsamba ye mayo, dish towels and old tent strips create a diagram of a large digestive system. The dish towels take us into the intimate space of the kitchen and ask us to consider how the material makes our dishes clean but also absorbs the food that we consume. For the artist, the state of the dish towels he used can tell him a lot about the hygiene of different homes, but also their food consumption. This observation that makes me think of the practice of uhambisa where medicine is used to cleanse the stomach after a certain period. The old tent material also carries its own narrative as tents are used for informal churches or traditional ceremonies. These sacred spaces illustrate the idea of cleanliness as spiritual, like the practice where people wash their hands outside the yard after returning from a funeral.
Zenze makes use of hundreds of cut plastic straws. Most of them are clear with a scatter of red. This work explores the idea of consumption on a larger scale and while Tsamba ye mayo focuses on the idea of being clean in the domestic and communal space, Zenze takes it further to the wider consumption habits of our society. The work resembles a plant or sea creature with open pores to inhale the oxygen or water from its surroundings. This suggests a critical observation on the products that people consume and the pollution in our atmosphere and oceans.
Duma rava gu mwa looks like a large dreamcatcher. The artwork is made from plastic straws, thread, glass bottles, cotton, and wool. The bead-like straws are predominantly black and silver, with some variation creating an impression of a Sangoma. It reminds me of the work done by traditional healers to help cleanse people of diseases or bad spirits. The use of colour in comparison Zenze reminds me of how initiates to sacred practices are said to become ill or face a spiritual crisis before responding to a calling that would allow them to heal themselves. So, the deeper colour found in Duma rava gu mwa as opposed to Zenze seem to illustrate the various forms of illness and spirits such people carry and also how the process of being a traditional healer means a continuous mastery or surrender to them.
‘Hustanana’ is very deep work with multiple interpretations, but what remains clear is how the artist asks us to consider the various ways in which we are unclean to ourselves and he allows us the space of confronting it. The central idea I retain is a return to self. I am thinking about all the various ways in which my energies are sapped that might not agree with my sense of a clean self. This could be related to food, media, people or beliefs. Hutsanana asks us to reconsider it all.