18 November 2012

Tanzania: Provoking Thought With Unique Art Pieces


VERY few artists, if any would be pleased to have finished an exhibition with all of the exhibits left behind. This would be taken as a sure sign that the public display was a success.

True but there are always exceptions to any rule or norm. This is where printmaker artist, Gadi Ramadhani, of Mbagala, Dar es Salaam, comes into the picture.

Not only were all of his 17 exhibits intact after his last solo exhibition, at the Alliance Française Hall, last week on Tuesday, all of them still belonged to him.

This seemed strange to the 'Star' when bouncing into him the following day, showing much pleasure, while collecting his exhibits of what he called his, "Male Female Intuition Exhibition". "My main concern was that all the pieces had a unique title, which was part of a brain teaser for those who wanted to know what it was or wanted more information.

At this point the curious exhibition goers had to open a teaser connected to my previous shows," Gadi admitted. In the explanation that followed he discovered then that when he puts a title and a price on his pieces, people would look at these two things then quickly move onto another piece.

They may make certain comments that a particular artwork is "nice" or "good" but they don't get in-touch with the actual pieces, as he would like to see happen. This is why he used a different method in this last exhibition. He told the 'Star' that he was extremely pleased with the result of this latest effort because it was more interactive and helped stimulate the audience's involvement with his artwork.

In fact there were 16 of his pieces in print and the "Installation", which had a special significance for him. The "Installation" consists of a small pink child's chair, surrounded with maize flour sprinkled on the floor. This idea he said comes from an aspect in some Bantu cultures, where on specific occasions, like if someone is getting married or loses a husband the bride or widow's face is painted with maize flour.

In front of the chair he placed a book, which he says represents the country's Constitution or any book of rules followed by the citizens. There was also a tape-measure, which represents borders that keep people within them. According to the artist, his main point was to bring to attention the plight of many children who do not get a quality education, which would help them earn a living.

Many children, he says play a key role in keeping their families together, and are denied an education. He sees very little is being done to rectify this condition. It does not end there either, a closer look at the education being offered in schools these days, he says is very limited and does not actually prepare youth for the current employment demands.

"This is something the Government and people within the community at large have to look at and make necessary changes. This is the statement that I was trying to give to the audience, who can relate to my artwork. It must be remembered that I don't have the answers and I'm just literally opening the discussion," he said.

That is why he had to be there every day throughout the eight-day display from eight in the morning until six in the evenings. The fact that many children from public and private schools in the City visited the exhibition increased his joy. Gadi had organised a series of training sessions for them, and the students write compositions on the "Installation." All of this meant it was a very busy week for him.

"My concern wasn't to make money as the show is moving to South Africa, under a different name that is why I had to secure all the pieces back. Presenting a mind teaser that stimulated discussions on topics that I feel action should be taken was enough for me," he said.

Of late Gadi, who runs a studio at the Nafasi Arts Space in the Mikocheni suburbs, is concentrating on multimedia art. This involves all aspects of art such as performance, installations, expressions, video art or simply paintings. In short "anything that can express the message to an audience," he maintains.

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