The settler makes history and is conscious of making it. And because he constantly refers to the history of his mother country, he clearly indicates that he himself is the extension of that mother-country. Thus the history which he writes is not the history of the country which he plunders but the history of his own nation in regard to all that she skims off, all that she violates and starves.
-Frantz Fanon, ‘The Wretched of the Earth’
Awarded the Bag Factory Young Female Artist Residency in 2018, Malebona Maphutse presents her solo exhibition Mmamoloi, Moloi, Mamoloyi, Ba Re WaLoya: Fuck Your Fake Ass History (presented by Mamoloyi Healing Ministries) at the Bag Factory this Thursday. Recognising the binary created from the demonization of African traditional beliefs and spiritual practices stemming from colonial frameworks, and the preference for Western-dictated Christianity, this exhibition takes as its starting point the crossovers between these two seemingly different structures of existence. Both place a heavy reliance on the presence of the supernatural, and both offer spiritual guidance, healing and the possibilities of a better life.
Malebona constructs the character Mamoloyi as an expressive and relatable guide into the complex themes present throughout the show. Drawing on her own experience growing up in a Christian home, the idea for Mamoloyi was birthed from how religion has influenced Malebona’s own limited understanding and reconciling some of her spiritual, paranormal gifts. As a way to respond to the continued othering of non-Western ways of viewing and experiencing the world, Mamoloyi’s purpose and lifelong mission is to correct the linear timeline that is presented as history by travelling through time stopping at important events and altering specific moments, changing the landscapes of time. Mamoloyi takes on these time-traveling missions with the help of an advisory Board consisting of “(which consists of matriarchs Lebo Mathosa the queen of sound and Queen Modjadji the Rain Queen) where she presents ‘true’ recollections and premonitions of the past and future to indicate the falsity and fluid nature of history and their recollections within a number of institutions and their claim to truisms.” Malebona’s use of multiple mediums to drive one narrative provides viewers with experiential layers to peak back for themselves, with each layer deepening the story of Mamoloyi.
In this show Malebona also makes a strong connection between time and physical space, expressing that this is where racial, economic and other social tensions and discomforts manifest, often overtly but sometimes in spite of insistence towards their nonexistence. Referring to how she unpacks the politics of space, Malebona explains that she speaks to “these politics through my video work, poster work and pamphlets that I post all over Johannesburg that speak to how Mamoloyi will help aid in such situations or moments when we are confronted with micro-aggressive behaviours… I do believe that there are more accounts of history that need to be foregrounded and it is my job to start the conversation about how that has already been, is being done and can be expanded in future.”
Mmamoloi, Moloi, Mamoloyi, Ba Re WaLoya: Fuck Your Fake Ass History (presented by Mamoloyi Healing Ministries) will be on show from 28 March – 18 April.