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Translating Home: On works by Assaf Shoshan and Manyaku Mashilo

Translating Home’ is an online exhibition of artworks produced by artists from Southern Africa and France. Curator Bontle Tau, a participant of the 2021 Latitudes CuratorLab programme, reflects on the meaning of home and invites us to journey through works by two artists in her group exhibition.

An unwarranted existential crisis occurs when attempting to reconcile the thought of home. It is an ambivalent sense of familiarity that we seek after. A permanent space that will claim us; accept us and give us refuge. In a time where home has become a disassociation to many - whether it be a walled prison to some; a fortress to others; or even a distant memory that fades with time to others - one thing remains intact: the home is vital to our being. It is our space of belonging.

Assaf Shoshan – Moti (2018)

Assaf Shoshan, Moti, 2018, Archive Colour Print, Edition 2 of 5, 100 cm x 125 cm.

One is rarely able to approach Assaf Shoshan’s work without a sense of silence and devotion. The images are taken with utter technical brilliance, complemented by the alluring quality of the lighting and the gripping moments in which he seems to capture his subjects. Shoshan, as an Israeli photographer, who has lived in Paris for well over 20 years, is able to capture the concept of home that resonates in the most attainable way with his viewer.

His photograph, Moti (2018), is part of a series of portraits he made on a trip home to Jerusalem. The work depicts a man throwing a set of unknown papers into the ocean with complete abandon. The viewer is suspended in the air with the papers that no longer stake claim to the subject or the land they once found themselves in.

Manyaku Mashilo – Journeying towards what we know to be true (2020)

Manyaku Mashilo, Journey towards what we know is true, 2020, Acrylic paint on canvas, 92 cm x 130 cm.

Limpopo-born artist Manyaku Mashilo’s intricate piece, entitled Journeying towards what we know to be true (2020), reminds us of the beauty of journeying in its most simplistic sense. In this ode to travel, we leave the home altogether, carrying it with us into an external realm. The figure the artist has chosen evokes the hymn of spirituality that sings across the canvas. Here, we are grounded in a character familiar to us all. She is the mother, the grandmother, the aunt, the female figure that cares for us with an altruistic passion. It is without question that we are urged to follow her across the image, to all the unknown destinations to which she may lead us, remembering that home can resemble a person as much as a place. Mashilo’s work leaves us with a wanderlust for dimensions other than our own. It elevates our spiritual being and likens us to philosophers, or sojourners of the universe.

Click here to view more of Bontle Tau’s exhibition, Translating Home.

Further Reading In Articles

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