Zimbabwe: Maputo - a Tale of One City

A new exhibition, Maputo: A Tale of One City, which presents a selection of works ranging across a diversity of media issues such as photography, video, painting, installation and drawing, opened at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) last week.

The exhibition, co-curated by Bisi Silva from Nigeria, Marianne Hultmann and Daniella van Dijk-Wennberg, both from Norway, highlights the way artists explore and articulate the realities, histories, identities, energy and complexity of the city of Maputo in Mozambique.

Mutadzapasi said the exhibition, which is in the South and East Galleries, explored periods of unrest in Maputo that were not far from Charles Dickens' concerns in his book, A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

The book comments on a period of great unrest in Paris and London during the French Revolution.

The story begins before the revolution, describing how the aristocracy misruled over the rest of the population. It continues with the subsequent rage of the people against their rulers and ends with the way in which some of the revolutionaries get corrupted.

Like many African cities, Maputo has also been subject to similar trials and tribulations that impact on development.

"This gives a clear picture of the city's culture and history through the artistic styles and trends used by the seven artists exhibiting including Emeka Okereke (Nigeria), Mauro Pinto (Mozambique), Rafael Mouzinho (Mozambique), Angela Ferreira (Portugal/Mozambique), Pompilio Hilario Gemuce (Mozambique), Lourenco Dinis Pinto (Mozambique) and Berry Bickle (Zimbabwe/Mozambique)," said Mutadzapasi.

Maputo: A Tale of One City has been produced by Oslo Museum; Intercultural Museum and Oslo Fine Art Society in collaboration with the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design with support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and Fritt Ord.

Mutadzapasi said the exhibition was a travelling show, from Norway and its first port of call in Africa was Zimbabwe and would travel to Mozambique in 2012.

"Bisi Silva is an independent curator and founder of the Centre for contemporary art in Lagos. She is also on the editorial board of the N Paradoxa, an international feminist art journal," she said.

Marianne Hultmann was the director of Oslo Fine Art Society since 2007 and was curator at Norrkoping Museum of Art in Sweden.

She has contributed to books, exhibition catalogues as well as magazines mainly on contemporary art and architecture.

Daniella van Dijk-Wennberg is the curator of IKM in Oslo Intercultural Museum and has worked for the Arendal Kunstforening, widely renowned for its attention to the works of young contemporary artists.

Maputo was chosen as a curatorial reference point for the exhibition.

"Maputo is a city where old and new goes hand in hand," said NGZ Communications Officer, Rutendo Mutadzapasi. "The colonial past is still very visible in the cities' landscape and at the same time new buildings are erupting and being abandoned."

She said the city was a port city where international influence fluctuated in and out, and the exchange process was very visible in the contemporary art scene of Maputo.

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