Witch Craft: Rethinking Power
October 3, 2021 — January 9, 2022
Moffat Takadiwa transforms post-consumer waste – such as used toothbrushes, bottle tops, and computer keyboards – into lush, densely layered sculptures and tapestry-like wall works that embody the complexities of contemporary Zimbabwean politics, culture, and reference his Korekore heritage. For his first solo museum exhibition, Takadiwa has produced new works that borrow from traditional Korekore language and material culture, such as baskets or mats that would be used in the home, and the myths and colonial beliefs that associate Africanness with sorcery and witches. In this exhibition, Takadiwa created new works that defy gravity by floating in mid-air and cascading off walls. Although he is referencing specific beliefs and myths about witchcraft, Takadiwa is using “witchcraft,” and the charged associations its carries, as a touchstone to construct a decolonial understanding of African beliefs and cultures and to think about power more broadly:
I am playing with reverse psychology and the notion of how power was achieved and manipulated by the West, the darker side of modernity was entertained to achieve their dominance of the world. Rethinking Power is my intervention and mind travelling to the possibilities of the [spiritual] side of Afrika and further imagine it as a possibility for Afrika’s growth.Moffat Takadiwa
Most of us recognize, and quite possibly use, the brands that appear in Takadiwa’s work. These materials are the remnants of everyday consumer products produced by global corporations that have infiltrated daily life in Zimbabwe, replacing traditional cultural practices with Western notions of consumerism. After collecting these materials from dumping grounds in Harare, Takadiwa and his team go through an intensive process of cleaning, sorting, drilling, and joining each of these items together. This becomes an act of metamorphosis where Takadiwa transforms these products of Western corporate profit into malleable building blocks in which he imparts his own narratives. His works in this exhibition are so potent that they hover in mid-air and glide across walls, transmitting knowledge and power that distinctly define Africa’s past and present and create a narrative which challenges Western influence. His work highlights how global corporations are the continuation of Western cultural and economic influence in Zimbabwe.
Curator: Holly Jerger
This exhibition is funded in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance.
Photo Credit: Moffat Takadiwa, Three little witches, 2021 (Detail). Found toothbrushes, computer keys, 177 x 98.4 x 2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery Los Angeles. Photo: Taylor Tschider.
Also be sure to check out The Craft of Poetry: Poets in response to the work of Moffat Takadiwa.