Oftentimes, an artist’s choice of material inflects the political shifts that dictate everyday life. In over a year since the ousting of the long-standing president Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe remains a country plagued by a crumbling infrastructure and extreme levels of unemployment. The challenges of regeneration, even in times of unimaginable repression, can be witnessed in the morphological sculptures of Harare-based artist Takunda Regis Billiat. Neither human nor non-human, sentient nor lifeless, Billiat’s sculptures are startlingly physical reminders of humanity’s fragility. Tied, knotted and woven into three-dimensional forms, they rise up from the ground and out of the wall like living creatures born to another dimension. Out of their tubular bodies emerge fang-like teeth, beady eyes and spools of fabric that trail across the ground like veins. Working in the neighbourhood of Mbare, a dense suburb characterized by its social vibrancy, Billiat’s works are loaded with personal and spiritual significations. The teeth are in fact cow horns symbolizing Zimbabwean signs of wealth, marriage and communion with the ancestral spirits; meanwhile, the use of discarded telephone-receivers, the life-lines of each sculptural organism, refers to the breaking down of infrastructures across the country. Perhaps the most significant materials are the simple cloth bindings used to compose each deconstructed form. Collected from sweatshops were locals can find off-cuts to sew their clothes back together, Billiat’s inventive use of this otherwise discarded matter speaks to the power of the tactile imaginary. -  Osei Bonsu in Tactile Imaginary: Contemporary African Art and New Materialisms

2017 - 2017

Takunda Regis Billiat, Mupangara Runhare | First Floor Gallery Harare

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