Meleko Mokgosi : The social revolution of our time cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the poetry of the future + Pan-African Pulp
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, United States01 Nov 2019 - 21 Dec 2019
Jack Shainman Gallery presents ‘The social revolution of our time cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the poetry of the future’. and Pan-African Pulp, two solo exhibitions of recent paintings by Meleko Mokgosi. Mokgosi’s third exhibition with Jack Shainman Gallery, these new bodies of work will span both of the gallery’s Chelsea locations.
The title of Mokgosi’s 20th Street installation, The social revolution of our time cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the poetry of the future., is taken from Karl Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. This text points to the limits of revolutionary discourses and proposes that it is only through disavowing the past that revolutionary action can occur. Similar to this argument, this body of work argues both for a disavowal of past grand narratives as well as the recuperation of non-Western forms of knowledge that were not privileged to coexist with conventional or established discursive frameworks. All twelve paintings are paired with a text that is taken from the writings of women either from Africa or the African Diaspora. The texts and paintings examine a wide range of issues, from African feminism and the struggle for liberation by African countries, to love, solidarity, and aesthetics. By pairing text and image, Mokgosi’s work aims to further questions around the politics of representation and strategies of resistance.
Pan-African Pulp, Mokgosi’s body of work at 24th Street, uses popular southern African pulp magazines or photo-novels to examine, broadly, the history of Pan-Africanism. These photo-novels, colloquially referred to as look-books, were first printed in the 1960s as an off-shoot of Drum Publications. Unlike Drum magazine, which addressed politics and issues of race in South Africa, photo-novels such as Lance Spearman avoided engaging with debates around politics, instead choosing to offer entertaining James Bond-like episodes of crime fighting. The photo novels—a less expensive alternative to filmmaking—are composed of staged photographs depicting action scenes, and follow a script conveyed with speech bubbles written in English, combining elements of comic books, films, and magazines.
Mokgosi has appropriated this trope and created new dialogue and plots within the existing imagery. By specifically focusing on Pan-Africanism, Mokgosi hopes to find meaningful ways of reconceptualizing the importance of a movement that sought to build alliances towards Black consciousness and foregrounding the rights and aspirations of Africans to self-determination and self-governance. Mokgosi reflects, “There is no doubt about the injustices, inhumanity, exploitation, violence, and racism caused by and associated with the Euro-American slave trade, European imperialism in Africa, and institutionalized racism in the Americas; the effects of these are ongoing and reflected not only in cultural and geopolitical contexts but also in the very reproduction and circulation of capital.” This work is the first of many stages through which Mokgosi intends to engage with and ask urgent questions around Pan-Africanism and solidarity.
Jack Shainman Gallery
The social revolution of our time cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the poetry of the future.
at 513 West 20th Street
at 524 West 24th Street