24 Aug Met Ander Oë: Using collage to challenge colonialism
African masks have been revered, exoticised and appropriated by Western artists since the beginnings of colonialism and continue to be appropriated in pop culture. For Larita Engelbrecht, the multifaceted meanings and functions of these masks cause unease because the lens of colonialism has framed them within a specific socio-cultural ideology.
Her upcoming exhibition at EBONY, Met Ander Oë, uses collage and painterly techniques, juxtaposing imagery from ethnographic African art books of the 1960s with elements of contemporary culture to challenge preconceived ideas relating to African art and artefacts.
“I am drawn to collage as a medium because it enables these stark juxtapositions. The best kinds are the ironic ones: an African mask is remixed with shopping bags (it’s ‘crying consumerism’), another mask is ‘trapped’ in an upmarket house. These uncomfortable juxtapositions challenge the masks’ appropriation as mere decorative items. By remaking and remixing found images, I challenge viewers to question their own assumptions about culture – and aesthetics – in our time and place,” she says.
Met Ander Oë opens on 1 September and runs until 29 October.