We just want to be closer shows work by two South African artists from different generations: Singarum Jeevaruthnam Moodley and Neo Image Matloga. The exhibition portrays a multi-layered narrative about freedom and self-determination.
Despite having no training in photography, Singarum J. Moodley (1922-1987) opened a photo studio in Pietermaritzburg, eastern South Africa, in 1957. His clients were people of color of Indian and African descent who, being non-whites, were systematically oppressed and disadvantaged by the government. For many, the studio offered a refuge off the political radar, a place where they could experiment with various forms of self-expression. The fascinating portraits reflect longing, pride, conformity, defiance, and playfulness.
The notion of a black identity devised by the colonial gaze is quite literally torn to shreds by Neo I. Matloga (1993) in his collaged paintings. Matloga grew up in the post-apartheid era. In his works, characters far removed from conventional notions of identity and gender come together in exuberant scenes that are nevertheless full of references to a system of oppression. The playful scenes in his work often take place in the private sphere, but nevertheless refer to a system of oppression.
The exhibition, based on an idea by curator Wiebke Hahn in Berlin, is a travelling show from Museum Marta Herford. It takes place within the framework of the ABN AMRO Art Award. Neo I. Matloga is the winner of the tenth edition. His exhibition along came your eyes can be seen at the Hermitage Amsterdam from 18 May onwards.