Gladys Kalichini 2019/20
Gladys Kalichini’s work explores representations of women in relation to dominant, national colonial histories. Her ongoing project focuses on notions relating to the (in)visibility of narratives of six women in relation to the official independence narratives of Zambia and Zimbabwe (formerly known as Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia).
In her previous project ChaMoneka: UnCasting Shadows / FyaMoneka: Exploring the Erasure of Women Within Zambian history, she explores the erasure of women from the Zambian history and collective memory. As a point of entry into the broader conversation of women marginalised from certain historicised events, she analyses the narratives of Julia Chikamoneka (1910 - 1986) and Alice Lenshina (1920 - 1978) in relation to the official narration of the independence struggle of Zambia as recorded in the National Archives of Zambia and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) Archives. She conceptualises erasure as a complex notion that encompasses (mis)representations, (mis)positioning, removals, absences and blind ways of seeing.
Exhibition at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin: 19th June - 12th July 2020.
“.... elo taba labikwa... bala moneka... kutila fye bamoneke.
... there seems to be an insistence to make some people, things and events unseen, to render them invisible... essentially to archive a peculiar kind of erasure. But they are here, their presence... traces of their memories linger in spaces ... in these gestures... yes, their residuals are protesting to disappear.” (Gladys Kalichini, 2020)
“Memory takes root in the concrete, in spaces, gestures, images, and objects... memory can also be selective; insofar as it is affective and magical, it sometimes accommodates only those facts that suit it.”
(Pierre Nora: From Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire, 1989)
In the exhibition ... these gestures of memory Gladys Kalichini focusses on the duality of memory and history, and considers ideas about mourning, remembering and forgetting in relation to the commemoration of stories about specific women within the larger picture of the narration of resistances against the colonial rule in Zambia and Zimbabwe (then Northern and Southern Rhodesia) in the 1960s and 1980s. The starting point of this exhibition project is the artist’s critical engagement with the erasure, absence and invisibility of particular female freedom fighters within the collective memory of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The exhibition challenges the singularity of dominant liberation narratives, complicates and expands freedom struggle histories by piecing together different memories about women, and provides a multi-layered and complex picture of national independence.
The three multi-media installations in this exhibition draw largely from research material and archival photographs of women in the independence struggles acquired from the National Archives of Zambia and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) Archives in Lusaka, and the National Archives of Zimbabwe and the (ZANU – PF) Archives in Harare. Some of the women included are Julia Chikamoneka, Elizabeth Mulenje (Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II), Bessie Chibesakunda Kankasa, Alice Lenshina, Amai Misozi, Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana and Joice ‘Teurai Ropa’ Mujuru. The intricately designed installations are created with video, fabrics, paper, text and paint to present spaces and gestures of memory. The installations can be viewed on one hand as a place to honour female freedom fighters and on the other as counter-monuments that present the complexity, fluidity and at times fragility of memory.
Gladys Kalichini is a contemporary visual artist and scholar from Lusaka, Zambia. Her work centres around notions of erasure, memory, and representations and visibilities of women in colonial resistance histories. She is currently a PhD candidate at Rhodes University in South Africa and a member of the Arts of Africa and Global Souths research programme, supported by the Andrew. W. Mellon foundation and NRF. She participated in the Àsìkò International Art Programme (Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Lagos) in Maputo, Mozambique in 2015, the Fountainhead Residency in Miami, USA in 2017 and the second iteration of the “Women On Aeroplanes” project in Lagos, Nigeria in 2018 themed “Search Research: Looking for Collete Omogbai”.
ARTIST TALK between Gladys Kalichini, Martha Kazungu and Igor Vidor, Friday July 17, 6 pm online.
Link to ZOOM-Meeting:
Meeting-ID: 924 7771 7812