'Things Fall Apart' is an exhibition staged as part of the Red Africa season by Calvert 22. The exhibition will take place from 4 February - 3 April 2016 at Calvert 22.
Things Fall Apart is the third exhibition in a series curated by Dr Mark Nash focusing on the post-communist world. The first, Reimagining October (with Isaac Julien, Calvert 22 2009) attempted to make connections between artists embedded in Soviet visual culture across the ‘break’ of 1989. The second, One Sixth of the Earth (MUSAC Leon and ZKM Karlsruhe 2012-13), performed a similar excavation for former Eastern Bloc countries.
This exhibition draws on the research project Socialist Friendship (2014-15), which traced the work of African artists and filmmakers who trained in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. It continues Nash’s exploration of the wider effects of communism, and the legacy still felt in the post-Soviet world.
Forming the centrepiece of the Red Africa season, Things Fall Apart will feature artists, filmmakers and groups from across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Drawing on film, photography, propaganda, and public art, the exhibition presents interdisciplinary reflections on African connections to the Soviet Union and related countries.
Curated by Mark Nash, the show gathers the responses of contemporary artists to different aspects of Soviet and related nations’ interests in Africa, particularly focused on ambitions to influence the development of political structures through film and art.
The exhibition reaches back to the beginning of the Soviet era through the work of Russian-American artist Yevgeniy Fiks. Fiks explores representations of black people in Soviet press and propaganda as early as 1920, which he presents through The Wayland Rudd Archive . The exhibition also re-examines relationships built during the height of the Cold War, including Tito’s 1961 visit to Africa.
Contemporary traces of communist street art and propaganda are captured by Jo Ractliffe and Kiluanji Kia Henda, revealing the lasting legacy of liberation struggles on the continent. In addition, the work of Onejoon Che critically examines the legacy of North Korea’s Mansudae Art Studio which produced socialist realist artworks such as The African Renaissance.
Things Fall Apart is a collaboration with Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth, where it will travel in May 2016. The exhibition takes its title from Chinua Achebe’s 1958 classic of post-colonial fiction, seen by many as the archetypal modern African novel in English which reflects on the devastating impact of colonialism in Africa. Our exhibition uses this association to focus on a similar loss of utopian perspective following the end of the cold war and collapse of the Soviet Union and eastern bloc.
Participating artists: Filipa César; Onejoon Che; Radovan Cukić and Ivan Manojlović (Museum of Yugoslav History); Angela Ferreira; Yevgeniy Fiks; Kiluanji Kia Henda; Isaac Julien; Stevan Labudović and Milica Tomić; Tonel; The Travelling Communiqué Group; Jo Ractliffe