The young Soweto-born Mohau Modisakeng is all for the coming together of the peoples of post-colonial Africa, but feels that this can’t be done at the expense of history. There are scores to settle, and better that they are settled in symbolic combat than blood. For the most part Modisakeng works as a sculptor, with recourse to performance, video and photography as the concept requires. In the triptych Untitled, the artist himself embodies that need for confrontation to resolve differences. His apron speaks for the hard, industrial labour that was the fate of his ancestors; the leopard print signifies high status among his fellow men (male members of Zulu royalty wore leopard skins to remind their enemies that this fierce animal hides, waits and attacks at the right moment); the bowler hat stands for the patriarchal white man, the ‘civilized’ oppressor. The body language is clear: this is a fighter come to seek justice. He emerges from a dark past, striding forward into the light, clothed in history.
Text by William A Ewing