Stone Flag, 2004, mounted chromogenic prints, 9 parts,
each: 30.6 × 45.8 cm (12 × 18 in), overall: 109 × 154.9 cm (43 × 61 in), Museum of Modern Art, New York
Thrifty invention and masquerade, along with a commitment to drawing, painting, sculpture and performance, underpin Rhode’s remarkable photographic tableaux variously showing the artist or his collaborators attempting to negotiate inanimate forms. Initiation rituals at high schools in Johannesburg, in which new students were forced to interact with chalk drawings for comic effect, suggested the basic premise for this work. During his final year of art school, in 1998, he introduced a camera to record his performative engagements, producing pacey, sometimes slapstick narratives concerned with play, rebellion and urban alienation. A durable feature of his formally diverse output, Rhode’s photographs have since recorded his interest in the carnivalesque, Black figuration, abstract painting, colour theory and Euclidian mathematics. Despite living in Berlin since 2002, much of this work has been produced in Johannesburg, including Stone Flag. It shows Rhode wearing white overalls, repurposed from a 2001 collaboration with rap group Black Noise, struggling with a brick flag. Made in the jubilant year of the tenth anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, the artist’s celebratory gesture is aspirational rather than actual; the weight of freedom is palpable.
This text is adapted from Phaidon’s publication 'African Artists: From 1882 to Now', with introduction by Chika Okeke-Agulu and glossary by Joseph L Underwood.
As featured in the New York Times, ARTnews, Colossal, Metropolis and New York Magazine’s The Strategist - the book is a groundbreaking A-Z survey of the work of over 300 modern and contemporary artists born or based in Africa.
Latitudes Co-Founder, Lucy MacGarry consulted on the selection process for the artists featured within the publication.
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African Artist Directory