Born 1975, Bakenburg, South Africa

 

collage and mixed media, 2004-9

 

Moshekwa Langa was born more than a decade before the official end of apartheid. As a black South African, he experienced first-hand the injustices of racial segregation and the effects of the vast government program known as "grand apartheid."

The traumas associated with racism, dislocation, displacement and alienation are themes in Langa's autobiographical work, though he is careful to avoid the documentary impulse and political polemic. The artist works with images filtered through memory and tinged with sentiment and nostalgia. Moshekwa Langa developed his own composite and astute arsenal of photos taken from family albums maps he has collected, pages ripped from rough notebooks and pages stolen from the directory.

Incorporating every kind of material, he disfigures the official geographic maps recomposing a personal mythology. His use of a wide range of (mainly second-hand) materials is initially due to precarious living conditions and to "making the best of what you've got", an economy of means transposed to the artistic field. Layered abstractions that recall the African landscape contain tattered fragments of South African maps that have been reorganized in unfamiliar, confusing and disquieting ways. They hold melancholy references to travel - leave-taking in particular. Moshekwa Langa retraces the fragile contours of a reinvented world. For the artist, the map is not an aesthetic or philosophical argument, but rather an identity issue.

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